Two Men's Soccer Players Suit Up For New Semi-Professional Cleveland Team

Senior midfielder Kurt Raney and junior All-OAC Forward of the Year Danny Ruple
Senior midfielder Kurt Raney and junior All-OAC Forward of the Year Danny Ruple

By: Cannon Dees '20

BEREA, Ohio- In its inaugural year as a National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) team, Cleveland Soccer Club has called up Danny Ruple (Berea/Berea-Midpark) and Kurt Raney (Mentor) of the Baldwin Wallace University men's soccer team to help find success in the 2018 season.

A record-breaking 2017 season for Ruple featured his first Ohio Athletic Conference Forward of the Year selection and his second All-OAC honor, which all led up to his NPSL debut. His 19 goals and 45 points not only broke two single-season school-records, but also topped the OAC leaderboards. He tallied seven assists on his way to becoming an United Soccer Coaches All-Great Lakes Region first-team selection and D3soccer.com nominee for "Most Impactful Player in Division III in 2017."

For his first game in the orange and black, Ruple started and played the full 90 minutes of the match. In that time, he scored the first goal and notched an assist in a 5-0 win over Greater Binghamton FC. Following his performance, Ruple earned more playing time as he came on as a substitute in the next contest against Fort Pitt Regiment and scored his second goal of the season.

"I hope to learn from players who have been playing at such a high level these past few years," Ruple said. "Just from training and a few games, I feel more comfortable on the ball and better tactically and technically than I did at the end of last season." Ruple also mentioned that his favorite part of the whole experience is being able to play the sport he loves while representing his city. 

Raney will also be on the field for Cleveland SC this summer. However, this isn't his first time taking the pitch for a semi-professional team. Last summer, the midfielder played for the Dayton Dutch Lions of the Premier Development League, where he played in 14 games and earned himself two goals and an assist.

He has also already logged minutes for his new team in the first match of the season as a substitute, coming on in the 65th minute in a 2-0 win over the Rochester Lancers. Out with injury during the 2017 season for Baldwin Wallace, Raney hopes to use this summer as an experience to come back stronger and better than ever.

"Coming off of a serious injury this past season, I hope to be able to get myself to the level I was playing at last summer in Dayton," Raney said. "I hope to bring back a high standard of play that can be filtered into the team at BW. Every player is great at what they do at this level, so you always have to be on your toes in anticipation for the unexpected". Raney was sure to add that he loves the semi-professional atmosphere at the game and always appreciates the overwhelming fan support on the road.

Although they have proven themselves thus far into the season, this opportunity wasn't just handed to the two Yellow Jackets. In order to make the new Cleveland team, Ruple and Raney had to showcase their talents in two try-outs attended by over 80 local players. It also helped that Baldwin Wallace men's soccer head coach, Reid Ayers, has been around the soccer community long enough for his word to have an impact.

"Both Ruple and Raney had indicated their interest in pursuing opportunities at the next level. After looking at all the possibilities, Cleveland SC was a good challenge based on the success of the previous Cleveland clubs and I was very comfortable recommending them," Ayers said. "I had a brief discussion with the head coach, Ryan Osbourne, and they received an invitation to try-outs, which they were prepared for by the culture and player development strategies of our soccer program at BW."

Ruple and Raney are the eighth and ninth Baldwin Wallace soccer players to play in an American semi-professional league under Coach Ayers' regime.

Cleveland SC is the third semi-professional soccer team Cleveland has had in the past 12 years and plays at John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium. As of June 13, the club has compiled a 3-1-1 record and currently sits in third place of seven teams in the Midwest East Conference. For more information on Cleveland Soccer Club, visit their website at www.clevelandsc.com.

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