Ben Rubeor of St. Mary’s (Annapolis, Md.) has been selected the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year. The selection was made by Casey Vock of 3d Rising in conjunction with the ALL-USA teams.
Name: Ben Rubeor
School: St. Mary’s, Annapolis, Md.
Experience: Third season
MIAA A Conference champions
Super 25 No. 12 final ranking
An MIAA dark horse entering the season, St. Mary’s of Annapolis shook up the Maryland lacrosse scene this season by winning the program’s first conference championship since 1996 and the first under the direction of Ben Rubeor, who took the reigns before the 2013 season.
It was the culmination of a season that senior attackman Timmy Hardy described as “ups and downs, all over the place. It was a roller coaster,” a season that saw perhaps one of lacrosse’s brightest young minds pull off somewhat of a coaching masterpiece.
The Saints came out of the gate in March with two losses to powerhouse programs, a 14-5 setback to Landon (Md.) and then a 12-10 loss to the Hill Academy out of Ontario. Collecting three good wins against Malvern Prep (Pa.), Kent Island (Md.) and St. Anne’s-Belfield School (Va.), the Saints entered MIAA play with a 3-3 record.
With losses to St. Paul’s (Md.) and McDonogh (Md.) already on the Saints’ resume, few projected St. Mary’s as conference champions following an April 25 loss to Gilman, an ugly 10-goal setback to a Hounds team that entered the game at 3-7.
But behind the scenes, the game became the turning point of the Saints’ season.
“The kids bought in,” said Rubeor, a star himself in the early 2000s at the MIAA’s Loyola Blakefield in Towson. “They took one on the chin losing by 10 to Gilman and we really decided to commit to each other. … They bought into the idea that everyone has a piece of this thing.”
And just 20 days after that tough one-sided loss to Gilman, Rubeor was getting drenched with ice water by his howling players as they celebrated in the wake of their convincing 13-8 win over McDonogh for the MIAA A conference championship.
The win against McDonogh followed an impressive showing just three days earlier, when the Saints upended a deep, talented St. Paul’s team 9-5 in the semifinals. It showcased the marked improvement of St. Mary’s, a team that became the most balanced squad in the conference. In April, the team averaged 10.2 goals per game, while allowing 9.3 In May, it averaged 14.2, while giving up just 7.4.
“We took smarter shorts,” Hardy said, talking about the evolution of the team. “We didn’t have to get the first shot off right away. Longer possessions. Smarter plays. Different offensive sets. That helps us.”
Patient offense helped a strong defense stay fresh, Rubeor said. And it didn’t hurt the Saints to have Alex Woodall on the roster. The “Big Cat,” as his teammates call him, is a stock, physically strong athlete who won more than 72 percent of the face-offs he took.
An American Family Insurance First-Team All-USA selection, Woodall was instrumental in the Saints’ efforts, which Rubeor is quick to point out in any discussion about St. Mary’s success.
“Alex Woodall is a momentum starter and a momentum stopper,” Rubeor said following the historic victory against the Eagles as Homewood Field was turned into a sea of royal blue and white.
St. Mary’s families and fans cheered deep into the night, with coaches and players posing for countless photographs, embracing in hug after hug. And there was no shortage of affection for Rubeor, who currently plays professional lacrosse for the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse.
“Best coach in the MIAA,” the High Point-bound Woodall has said of Rubeor.
The title seems fitting for Rubeor who, in just his third season, helped return the coveted MIAA A conference championship to Annapolis, a trophy that evaded him in his time at Loyola Blakefield despite his All-American performance as a senior. And the Saints did it by defeating McDonogh, a team that Rubeor himself never won against in four high school games.
“He’s turned the program around, especially the last two years, getting to the playoff the last two years and winning the championship this year,” said Hardy, who will play at Villanova.
Rubeor wasn’t so sure about that mid-season, as the Saints were struggling and simply hoping to make the MIAA playoffs.
“There were certainly some times this season where I questioned whether I was a good coach or not,” Rubeor said on the turf at Johns Hopkins. “The reason I say that is because I knew we had the talent. And I thought we were one of the better teams.
“I think when that happens and you meet some adversity – no question you’re going to push through it – but I was questioning whether I was the right guy for this job. Leave it to the boys to make me look better than I am, and I think that’s what they did tonight.”
Rubeor insists the seniors deserve the credit for adding a new chapter to the St. Mary’s lacrosse saga – a continuation of a story served as inspiration down the stretch this season.
Victor Lilly, the Saints’ defensive coordinator, recently wrote a book on the history of St. Mary’s lacrosse program. Passing around copies of the book, the players and even coaches alike, Rubeor said, were moved by the rich history of their program and what past teams had accomplished.
“I think we all got a sense for, one, how difficult this was, and two, how much history St. Mary’s lacrosse has, and three, you can create something special if you’re willing to go for it.”
The seniors, Rubeor said, understood the weight of the situation – the last chance they would ever have to play for the prestigious MIAA A conference title.
“We just kept rolling with seniors. They’re the guys who understand that this thing, it’s fleeting, and you have to take advantage of the opportunities you get. Those 20 seniors, the guys that played and the guys that didn’t play, really made this thing happen.”