By Matthew DeWitt/NPSL.com
The locker room for Saturday’s final will have more familiarity to Tulsa Athletic’s Ruben Carrasco than most. The local hero will have one more opportunity to play in front of family, friends, and even some collegiate teammates at Rogers State’s Soldier Field.
Hailing from Tulsa and playing his collegiate seasons with the Rogers State Hillcats, Carrasco will have a unique home-field advantage when Tulsa Athletic takes the field. After playing a 2022 NPSL National Semifinal on his high school home turf, the 2023 NPSL National Championship gives him a chance to play one more time in his collegiate stadium.
“It can have a different feeling,” he said. “It just comes down to me being grateful to be able to put on the jersey for Tulsa or RSU and be able to create more memories.”
A native to the area, Carrasco graduated from Union High School in Tulsa. He spent his freshman year at Murray State College in southeastern Oklahoma before making the move back closer to home.
Carrasco spent his sophomore, junior, and senior years with the Hillcats. In his junior and senior seasons (2021 and 2022, respectively), he tallied a total of seven goals and four assists in 33 games for Rogers State. In his junior season, Carrasco received All-Central Region Second Team honors from the D2 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (D2CCA) and All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA)/Great American Conference (GAC) second team.
“It really felt like I belonged all along at RSU,” Carrasco said. “We’re with each other a lot. They actually help you out when it comes to the good times and the bad times. Coach [Derek] Larkin encourages you to be together a lot, and I think that helps us on and off the pitch.”
As part of Tulsa Athletic in 2022, Carrasco came on from the bench in the national semifinal played at his high school alma mater of Union HS in Tulsa.
“It’s always nice to play in your old school ground,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories from when I was a kid. I just wish it was a different outcome.”
Tulsa Athletic fell to eventual champion FC Motown in the semifinal on two late goals by the visitors.
In 2023, he notched a game-tying goal late in a 1-1 draw against Demize NPSL on June 3 and has made three playoff appearances.
“It’s a special feeling – especially with the ones that I can share with those close to me,” he said. “Especially playing in the national tournament. The whole club as well. The team has been working so hard for this. For us to work for this and share it with the Tulsa community will be great.”
Photo Provided by Tulsa Athletic and Lori Scholl