Rusnak and Rueter see their Division I dreams come true
With family members, coaches, school administrators, and even some classmates watching, Holy Ghost Prep lacrosse captains George Rusnak and Matt Rueter signed national letters of intent on November 10 to play Division I lacrosse at Siena College and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), respectively.
For the duo, it only seemed right to share their signing day moment with some of the people they care about most.
“Signing to play Division I lacrosse at Siena is a dream come true for me,” says Rusnak. “That dream wouldn’t have become a reality without many of the people in this room, from my parents who drove me to countless practices and games when I was younger, to Matt (Rueter) who has been a great teammate here at Ghost and also with the Bandits travel program, to coach (Ryan) Tessler who has brought out the best in me as a player.”
Says Rueter: “A moment like this, signing with a Division I school, happens because of surrounding yourself with others who push you just as much as you push them every day. I’m so grateful to my family, my coaches, and George who are here to share this with me. I owe a lot to Coach Tessler who has been so crucial in helping me improve as a faceoff guy. He’s always eager to get me and Ghost alum Andrew Rose together during the offseason to get some extra reps in. Coach Tessler and the rest of the coaching staff truly love what they do and their passion is contagious.”
Rusnak and Rueter both played vital roles in HGP’s bounce-back 2017 season last spring. After managing just one win in 2016, the Firebirds fashioned an 11-8 mark against a tough independent schedule and were the number 8 seed in the 2017 District 1 playoffs. Rusnak notched 30 goals and 23 assists and picked up 58 groundballs last season, while Rueter set school records for percentage of faceoffs won (73%) and groundballs (185).
“Siena and NJIT are getting great young men. These two will represent the HGP community very well,” says Holy Ghost Prep lacrosse coach Ryan Tessler. “They are two great leaders that never gave up during a one-win season and then helped change the culture back to the winning ways of HGP lacrosse with an 11-win season last year.
“They are positive and demanding leaders that will do all the behind-the-scenes work that makes a team come together.”
The duo isn’t resting on its laurels, either. They are two of the unquestioned leaders on Tessler’s team—getting up while it’s still dark out to lead the squad in its early-morning workouts.
“This offseason, they have led workouts two times a week at 6:20 a.m.,” says Tessler. “This is another addition to the offseason regimen that we hope becomes tradition. Building a legacy and leaving the program stronger than how they found it is very important to George and Matt. We are blessed as a coaching staff to have these guys as our leaders.”
The two Division I signees firmly believe that the early-morning winter workouts will pay dividends come spring.
“Our goal is to win a district title,” says Rusnak. “And that won’t be easy as we play in a pretty loaded district. But the team is working extremely hard, and I think we’ll have a special season in 2018.”
After that, it will be off to college for Rusnak and Rueter, who will both major in business and who both signed with colleges within a reasonable driving distance from Holy Ghost, which will allow their parents to see them play often in college.
“It’s great that I’ll only be three-and-a-half hours away at Siena, so family and friends can definitely come see me play in college,” says Rusnak.
“Playing at NJIT will have lots of benefits,” says Rueter. “My family will be able to easily come up and see me play college lacrosse, and I’ll be just a short train ride away from New York City, which will provide plenty of possible avenues for me as a business major in college.”