A year of rebuilding, after an MIAA A Conference crown, has Cardinals eager to prove themselves
by Joe DiBlasi
Calvert Hall soccer coach Rich Zinkand has eight starters returning and he expects the Cardinals to be back in the in the chase for the MIAA A Conference soccer crown this season.
Zinkand led the Cardinals to a championship two years ago, when seniors Ben Alexander, Brady O’Connor, and Seth Walker made the difference. Alexander is a sophomore at Catholic University, O’Connor is playing at George Washington University, and Walker is at Mount Saint Mary’s, all D1 programs.
Zinkand was named VSN Coach of the Year that fall, but the hard work occurred last season as he re-tooled the team without his graduated stars and laid the foundation for 2018 and beyond.
The 2017 Cardinals struggled early, but showed great promise towards the end, falling to eventual league-runner-up Mount St. Joseph, 3-2, in the MIAA quarterfinals.
“Last year was a great learning experience,” said Zinkand. “We started a lot of young players and they got a lot of valuable minutes which should transfer into some quality minutes this year.
“We have more experience than last year and will be a more physical team. Things look real good so far in the preseason.”
Zinkand will count on senior goalkeeper Spencer Nattans, a second-year starter, to anchor the defense.
Nattans’ dad played at the Hall for legendary coach Bill Karpovich. Zinkand also won two championships as a player under Karpovich when he was a student-athlete at Calvert Hall.
Senior Cam Ohrin, a three-year starter, junior Ben Bender, also a three-year starter, and senior Bobby Wells are expected to be key players this season.
Zinkkand said, “Ben is one of the best players in the league as a center-midfielder.”
Bender will get help from midfielders James Garfink, Luke Ferrarease and Dylan Burress, as well as Dan Corona and Hayden Lim.
“We will be rotating a lot of players up top,” said Zinkhand, who is now in his seventh year as the head coach at the Hall.
“We will be good enough to challenge the top teams again this season, with eight solid returning starters on the field.”
Pictured above: (from left) Spencer Nattans, Cam Ohrins and Ben Bender will help Calvert Hall take another run at the MIAA A title.