Brian Ruppel and Cardin Stoller have watched many Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Boys Senior Games over the years, both well aware of what draws the most attention in the prestigious summer showcase: Goals.
In last year’s game, the North and South teams combined to rack up a mind-boggling 50 of them.
As the goalie tandem representing the South in the 17th annual game — Ruppel earned All-Metro first-team honors by The Baltimore Sun in his final season at Catonsville and Stoller claimed second-team honors for Boys’ Latin — they are excited and honored to be part of the event.
Most importantly, they feel prepared for the heavy workload ahead.
The game is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field and will be televised live on ESPNU. The South, coming off a 28-22 win last year, has a 9-6 edge in the overall series. No game was not played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s kind of an offensive show, so it’s going to be tough with a lot of great shooters. But there’s a lot of great defenders, too, so it will be fun,” said Ruppel, a Maryland commit. “There’s definitely a lot of shots coming my way, but I’m just going to do what I can to talk to my defense and make as many saves as possible to help keep my team in it and hopefully the South squad will come out with a win.”
Stoller plans to take a simple approach, sticking to what got him selected.
“Playing against the best guys in the country, that’s the fun part. It’s going to be challenging,” he said. “I just want to play my game, try not to do anything too crazy and stick with what’s been working for me ― nothing too flashy.”
Ruppel and Stoller closed out fine high school careers with sensational senior years that warranted selection for the big summer game.
For a second straight season, Ruppel led Catonsville to the Baltimore County crown and a trip to the state tournament. The Maryland commit stopped 140 shots while allowing just four goals per game in the Comets’ 18-1 season. He is the fifth public school player from the area to be named an Under Armour All-American.
Picking up where he left off in his junior year, when he helped lead Boys’ Latin to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, Stoller, a Rutgers commit, turned away 222 shots to lead the Lakers (14-3) to a first-place finish in the regular season and the semifinals of the league tournament.
Inside Lacrosse’s director of recruiting and high school content Ty Xanders, a St. Paul’s graduate, said the goalie talent pool gave the selection committee plenty to consider.
“When it comes to the Class of 2022, I would go as far to say it’s the best goalie class I evaluated in my 12 years doing this. I think that’s pretty clear with the amount of depth there is,” he said. “In this class, because there’s a lot of kids out there that have the ability to start for three or four years in college and that’s even harder to do in an era of fifth-year transfers. So it really speaks volumes about these two particularly goalies that they were just a cut above in edging out some other talented guys.”
The 44 players selected to play in the game — 22 on each roster — are announced in four waves over the spring months. Stoller was named in the fourth and final wave. The phone call he received informing him he made the team proved icing on the cake for his senior season.
“They only take four goalies, so to be one of them is pretty special to me,” he said. “I remember watching the game last year thinking to myself how awesome it would be to play in that game. So that was a goal for me this year, to try and get that recognition and get a chance to compete with the best competition in the country.”
Ruppel and Stoller took familiar paths to becoming top-notch goalies. Both started out as attackmen, but during their respective middle school years playing for club teams, coaches were looking for somebody to stick in goal. It didn’t take long for both to be sold on the position and the challenges it presented.
On Saturday, playing in front of a live national television audience, the duo will have an opportunity to make a difference against the country’s finest in a bid to keep the South team rolling.
“I just think it’s so much fun because you have such a huge impact on the outcome of the game,” said Ruppel, who also played goalie for Catonsville’s soccer team. “There’s so many aspects to the position. I just love being the last line of defense and being able to make game-changing plays.”
Under Armour All-America Boys Lacrosse Game
At Johns Hopkins’ Homefield Field
Saturday, 8 p.m.