Drew Ruggles voted as Defender-of-the-Year in Major Arena Soccer League

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. – His first season as a member of the Florida Tropics couldn’t have been much better for Drew Ruggles.

And after earning Major Arena Soccer League First Team all-star honors earlier in the week, Ruggles added the MASL’s Defender-of-the-Year honors as well, the league announced today.

Ruggles set a career high in goals with 14, and was second on the Tropics in total blocks for the season which came to a premature end in mid-March because of the Coronavirus outbreak. At the time, the Tropics were 18-3, atop the MASL’s nine-team Eastern Conference.

“Drew was someone we heavily recruited this past off-season. He was fresh off winning a championship with the Milwaukee Wave, so we knew he would bring that pedigree with him, and help change our culture, which he did almost immediately,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “His composed play and obvious skills were invaluable on the field, and his leadership and accountability off it were equally as fantastic.”

A native of Fayetville, N.C., Ruggles has been in the league since debuting in the 2014-15 season with the Baltimore Blast. He spent four years with the Wave, and in 103 career games has 44 goals and 30 assists.

Roberts said much of the team’s success this year came from his approach to the game.

"Even going back when I played in Philadelphia, we had a similar type player in Pat Morris, who won championships in Philadelphia and Baltimore and was a big attacking defender," he added. "Drew Ruggles is very similar, has the same qualities, has great leadership qualities and pushes the group. Kind of sets the tone defensively as well. that balance, the ability to get forward it's crucial in the indoor game and has helped us to a lot of our success this year." 

Florida has done very well in the league’s post-season balloting. Awards were picked on a vote of coaches, players and front office personnel. Roberts was named Coach of the Year; Victor Parrieras and Hugo Silva were second-team picks and Ricardo Carvalho was a third-team All MASL selection.

The Tropics are expected to start their fifth season of professional indoor soccer in Lakeland late this fall.