Senior Alex Ruppert leads boys’ soccer with assists and attitude

By Cynthia Leung

Originally published on December 4, 2014

Senior forward Alex Ruppert jumps up for a header in the Cardinals’ 2–0 victory over Galileo in the championship match on Nov. 8. Photo by Karina Huft

When the boys’ soccer team needed an assist or goal this year, they knew they could count on senior forward and Athlete of the Month Alex Ruppert to pull through and lift the squad’s spirit.

During the season, Ruppert switched from a lone striker to an underneath forward, the player behind the striker, in hopes to make more thorough passes and create more attacks.

“It seemed as if we had let our heads drop but Alex just kept going and going, never letting up.”

This switch was successful. On many occasions, Ruppert contributed assists, which helped during crucial moments in close games. During a home game against the Gateway Gators on Sept. 4, the Cardinals conceded two unanswered goals, allowing their opponent to tie the game 2–2 in the second half. “It seemed as if we had let our heads drop but Alex just kept going and going, never letting up,” sophomore forward and midfielder Cian O’Dwyer said. “He got his reward as he created the winning goal for us.”

In addition to his assists and goals, Ruppert displayed leadership skills that encouraged his teammates. “Anytime he saw players with low energy or intensity, he would push and refocus them,” head coach Juan Lopez said. “Sometimes players recognized his ability to work hard and would do the same.”

According to O’Dwyer, Ruppert had an infectious attitude that affected his teammates and the game. “He pulled us through playoffs by showing a determination and energy that should be admired by everyone,” he said. “His first goal in the playoffs was from more than 25 yards out and it set the tone for the rest of the postseason to come. Without his energy and determination, our winning the championship would’ve been as an incredibly difficult task.”

But Ruppert constantly tried to improve. During a preseason game on Aug. 29 against Lick Wilmerding, he missed a penalty shot, something that sparked more practice. “Everyone always expects penalty shots to be converted, so when I missed, it was a huge blow to my self-confidence,” Ruppert said. “To get over it, I took it one game at a time. I worked on doing the little things right and then worked up from there. I also worked a lot on my shooting so if I was given another chance at taking a penalty, I would score it.”

“He became a leader and with that came a higher respect for the game and good work ethic.”

Ruppert’s hard work paid off as the Cardinals came back strong this season, beating the Galileo Lions 2–0 in the championship. “His best moment was when he scored the first goal in the championship because it had a big impact,” Lopez said. “It summarized his season and how he worked so hard and tried not to let his teammates down. He became a leader and with that came a higher respect for the game and good work ethic.”

The final game served as a high point for Ruppert’s milestone season.“Finally being able to win the championship my senior year is incredible,” Ruppert said. “Knowing that all of our team’s hard work in the past years finally paid off was one of the best feelings ever. What happened after the referee blew his whistle felt like an out of body experience. Almost euphoric.”