HARKER HEIGHTS Nick Merutka won two district goalkeeper of the year honors and set three Harker Heights school records for saves. Still, Mary Hardin-Baylor head soccer coach Brad Bankhead and the Cru soccer team had to convince the Knights' senior goalie to not hang up his gear. "I had initially looked into the school. I had applied and got accepted, but it was just in the back of my mind as I looked for other places because and I didn't know if I wanted to play soccer, honestly," Merutka said. "Then (UMHB head soccer coach Bankhead) talked to me and I said, 'Maybe I can do it.' And, I practiced with them and it was a good feeling."
After making such an integral and lasting impression in just two years at Harker Heights, Merutka committed to play for the Cru on Monday morning at a ceremony in the Harker Heights cafeteria.
Merutka, who moved from Virginia prior to his junior season, owns Heights' single-game, single-season and career saves records and was twice voted the District 12-5A most valuable goalie.
"His reaction time, reaction speed," Heights soccer coach Jared Cruddas said of Merutka's initial impression. "It's unbelievable how his body bends and he can get to a ball most teenagers could not reach. Decision-making it's rare that you get a goalie that moves into the area that understands the game."
Merutka set the Knights single game saves record with 19 against A&M Consolidated on March 24. He had 231 saves in his two-year career at Heights, including 164 as a senior to help lead the Knights to their second straight postseason.