College Lacrosse

Gaining confidence from his father, goalkeeper Ruston Souder having career year for UMBC lacrosse

Depending on which member of the Souder family you talk to, father Rudy has attended all but two of son Ruston's games as a goalkeeper for the UMBC men's lacrosse team. The only discrepancy is which two he missed.

But the point is that for 50 of the 52 games that Ruston Souder has either stood in front of the net or on the sideline, the senior has been able to look into the stands and spot his dad, who joked about wondering if his son notices him.


"It's a confidence booster," Ruston Souder said. "He's always had faith in me and tells me that I can do anything. He texts me before every game, 'Achieve your dreams.' To be able to work my way to the top is fulfilling that dream. But having him behind me really helps me, really pushes me, gives me the confidence to be the best I can be."

Souder, 21, is having one of his best seasons. In 10 starts, the Pasadena resident and Chesapeake-AA graduate has a 9.30 goals-against average, which would be the lowest of his career. His .516 save percentage is tied with his career best set in 2016.


Souder has been a key cog in the Retrievers' (4-6, 2-1 America East Conference) winning four of their past seven games after an 0-3 start. His play in Saturday's showdown with No. 20 Binghamton (9-1, 3-0) at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville at 7 p.m. could go a long way in determining whether the program will return to the conference tournament for the first time since 2014 or stay home for the third consecutive year.

Junior defenseman John Tornabene said Souder provides the defense with a sense of comfort.

"He's a brick wall back there," said Tornabene, a Havre de Grace native and Archbishop Curley graduate. "He gives the presence that he's always going to have our backs and that he's going to make a stop when we need it. … I know that if I make a mistake and I let a guy get a shot off, he's going to always have my back to make the save that a lot of other goalies might not be able to do."

Souder's path to this stage in his career has not been smooth. After a quiet freshman campaign, he sat on the bench for the first six games of 2015 before replacing Connor Gordon for the final seven, finishing with a 10.69 goals-against average and .524 save percentage.

But he lost the job to Gordon at the beginning of 2016 for four games and watched David Pisanic (Boys' Latin) make two starts before starting the final eight games.

Souder was not sure what to expect when former Loyola Maryland offensive coordinator Ryan Moran replaced Don Zimmerman as head coach after last spring. But Moran tabbed Souder as his starter and has not strayed from that decision, even as Souder surrendered a combined 42 goals in losses to No. 17 North Carolina, No. 13 Johns Hopkins, and No. 12 Richmond.

Souder said he's grateful for Moran's faith in him.

"The position is all about confidence, and the confidence stems from the coaches," he said. "They have the confidence in me. Struggling early, they never pulled me. The biggest thing I saw was they were going to let me sit in there and figure it out. So having that confidence and knowing that I'm the No. 1 makes it a lot easier."


Moran said Souder has not given him a reason to consider benching him.

"I think Rusty's play is what we expect and hope for from all of our players," he said. "It's that constant improvement. Every week, he's holding down the fort really well, especially the last four weeks where he's come out of games with more saves than goals allowed. That's what you're looking for in a goalie."

Tornabene said Souder's best showing may have been his seven-save effort in a 6-4 win at Marist on March 11 because of how many of those stops were jaw-dropping. One was his last save on a shot by midfielder Kyle Quinn with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

"I remember the guy got a pretty good shot off, but Rusty made just an incredible save," Tornabene said. "That kind of sealed the deal after we cleared it."

Souder said his goal is a .600 save percentage for the season, which he believes will give UMBC the best chance of playing in the America East tournament in May. If that happens, Rudy Souder will be along for the ride.

"Since he was in the seventh grade, people told me he was good enough to play wherever he wanted to play," said the elder Souder, who has two other sons; 22-year-old Rutger and 20-year-old River. "Until we got here in his senior year when he has been playing really well, you're wondering in the back of your head, 'Are we good enough to be here?' He played some in his freshman year, played in his sophomore year. So it's a dream come true. We're living the dream. I do text him that sometimes."