By Justin Haggerty

WHITEHALL – The Reeths-Puffer girls soccer team entered the 2015 season as defending district champions, and with six returning starters expected to compete at a high level.

lsj-fb-logoBut on Thursday it was a brand new player who led the Rockets to victory over Whitehall.

RP #21 Haley Ruiter scores late on Whitehall #8 Sophia Stevens photo/ Tim Reilly

RP’s Haley Ruiter scores late on Whitehall goalie Sophia Stevens. Photo/ Tim Reilly

Freshman Haley Ruiter scored three goals, including two in the first 10 minutes of the game, to lead Reeths-Puffer to a convincing 6-0 non-league victory.

The Rockets improved to 2-1-2 on the season. They collected their second win of the week after beating Western Michigan Christian on Tuesday.

“She (Ruiter) is just a solid player,” said Reeths-Puffer Coach Jeremy Tjapkes. “She plays big in the air, she plays big holding the ball and she’s got a great finishing touch and a knack for scoring.

“She’s just kind of our leader out there. Even though she’s only a freshman, she does a lot of nice things for us. I know our girls all recognize that and appreciate it.”

R-P's Jenna Stolzman drives to the goal. Photo/Tim Reilly

RP’s Jenna Stolzman drives to the goal. Photo/Tim Reilly

Whitehall, unlike Reeths-Puffer, brought back an inexperienced team this season, with no returning seniors. The Vikings dropped to 1-2-1.

“That was really what we were hoping for, just be competitive,” said Whitehall Coach Dan Nichols. “We’re super young, we’re athletic, but we just tip our hats to them. They did what they needed to do to win, they had a game plan and put it in place.”

Ruiter opened the scoring with two early goals to set the tone for the game. Amber Blaski, a fellow freshman, scored on a penalty kick to put the Rockets up 3-0 at halftime.

Ruiter completed her hat trick just over three minutes into the second half when she tapped the ball into the right side of the net to put R-P up 4-0.

RP #7 Amber Blaski scores on the penalty kick photo/Tim Reilly

Amber Blaski scores on the penalty kick for the Rockets. Photo/Tim Reilly

Jenna Stolzman and Briana Bush capped the scoring for the Rockets.

“They’re putting the pieces of the puzzle together, they’re executing a little bit better,” Tjapkes said about his team. “Today was a good game to get some players some playing time and chip away at the things we need to work at a little bit at a time.

“We don’t have a superstar this year. We have just a bunch of solid girls that are learning to play as a team. We’re deep on the bench this year, we’re just trying to get all of them to elevate their level of play.”