When the boys soccer season got underway in September, West Hempstead coach Chris Van Kovics was cautiously optimistic. He expected the Rams to be strong on the back line, but wasn’t sure if his team would be able to find the back of net often enough.
As expected, the Rams have been stingy in their own end, but their output on the offensive end has been a bit of a surprise. In last Saturday’s 4-2 road victory over Wheatley, David Cadet scored three goals and fellow junior Ellean Maldonado added another to lead West Hempstead to its fourth consecutive win. The Rams, who are unbeaten in their last eight matches, improved to 7-1-1 (6-0-1 in Nassau Conference AB4.)
“We have a real good bunch of guys,” Van Kovics said. “We look to cross the ball into the box, follow up shots, and, of course, get after loose balls in our own end. They’ve bought into the blueprint, and done a real nice job.”
The center backs, a tandem of juniors Luis Zavala and Mohammed Zkout, have been the backbone of the defense. In addition, Zkout has handled most of the team’s corner kicks and free kicks.
“With a young, inexperienced keeper playing behind them, it’s important for the defense to be a strength,” Van Kovics said. “Zavala and Zkout have been dominant in the box. The defense has been as good as any I have had here at West Hempstead.”
Senior captain Danny Torrentes, who scored a goal in a 3-0 victory over Academy Charter, has been very good on the left side of the defense, and Sam Brioso and George Meyer have proven to be interchangeable on right. Sophomore Kevin Decristoforo has been an X factor for the Rams since getting the call up from JV.
Cadet, who leads West Hempstead with a dozen goals while assisting on two others, is a threat every time he’s on the pitch. He has a phenomenal first touch and creates an inordinate amount of scoring opportunities. Cadet’s performance at Wheatley marked his second three-goal effort in 2019.
Senior Gerardo Maldonado, who has three goals and five assists, has developed terrific chemistry with Cadet. Maldonado has assisted on three of Cadet’s goals. Ellean Maldonado has four goals and a pair of assists on the season. West Hempstead has outscored its opponents 33-10.
Bryan Burgess has gotten stronger in the net as the year has gone along. The freshman keeper has posted three shutouts. Burgess had six saves while shutting out Academy Charter.
“If we keep defending well and working from the back line up, we’ll be fine,” Van Kovics said. “We have big ones coming up with Friends Academy, Seaford, and Carle Place. We need to keep it going for a couple more weeks, and see where that leaves us.”
The Rams will honor their seniors when they close out their home schedule against Friends Academy on Thursday afternoon at 4:30.