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Synergy is defined as when the combined value and performance of two people will be greater than the sum of the separate individual parts.

McAllen High’s Savannah Ruiz to Julianna Millin, high school’s version of Montana to Rice (for you old-schoolers) is the perfect example.

Ruiz, a midfielder who can score but whose golden foot sets up even more goals, is a senior. This season alone, 30 of Ruiz’s 43 assists have gone to Millin, a junior who led District 31-5A with 50 goals during district play.

One coach’s defensive strategy early this season was the cliché “cut the head (meaning shut down Ruiz) and the body will follow.”

It didn’t work.

Now, as the Bulldogs prepare to face Gregory-Portland at 6 tonight at McAllen Memorial Veterans Stadium in a UIL Class 5A regional quarterfinal, they’re looking for that dynamic duo, speed demon Gabby Gonzalez and the rest to find the back of the net. The winner advances to a regional semifinal, where McHi defeated Leander 2-1 a year ago in a thriller.

“It really is a trust thing,” said Ruiz, the team’s all-time assist leader for a season and career. “We find each other her to finish and me to get her the ball.”

Playing against a tough offsides trap against Corpus Christi Veterans on Friday, Millin and Ruiz connected with perfect timing to disrupt and break the trap, and Millin scored one of her four goals on the day.

While it already seemed like the two stars were connecting via satellite or through eyes in the back of their heads, now they’ve successfully added another weapon to their artillery.

Ruiz, who takes the Bulldogs’ corner kicks and has scored three Olympic goals this year, now looks for Millin to connect on a header often from the corner.

“There’s definitely a lot of trust there,” Ruiz said. “I just try to get the ball as close to the net as possible and let Jules have a shot to finish it.”

Millin said it was a part of her game that she knew would need to work on and improve. She’s done just that, earning the moniker “Air Jules.”

“I was never really good with my head until this year,” Millin said “Savannah was somebody where we immediately had a connection and built on it. She passes me the ball, and I do my best to finish it.

“Savannah picked up on the way I moved and it became easier for her to know where I would be, and she puts the ball on the money every single time.”

Ruiz said it’s more than just practice on the field that aids that connection, but studying film helps her deliver the ball in a different way to her different attackers.

“I think it’s pretty unspoken, and more of an understanding of the game and a lot of our game play has to be unspoken,”Ruiz said. “Gabby and Jules, they are two different types of players. I try to give it to Gabby in the air and farther in front to use her speed. Jules wants it on her foot.

“The good thing about all that communication to me, it’s really helpful when you have to make a split-second decision.”

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