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Experienced 'D' leads West Hempstead

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In 2018, West Hempstead boys’ soccer had one of those seasons where nothing seemed to go its way. The Rams were competitive in every match, but an unfortunate bounce, a bad break, or a missed assignment would inevitably lead to them losing a tight contest.

With some talented returnees and experience on the backline, things should be better for the Rams in 2019. Competing for a playoff spot isn’t unrealistic in Conference AB4. Island Trees, Wheatley, and Seaford are expected to be among the teams fighting for the league crown.

The Rams are off to a good start in non-league play. After dropping a match at Valley Stream North 2-1 in the season opener, West Hempstead took it to visiting Elmont 6-0 last Saturday morning. Gerardo Maldonado scored a pair of goals and assisted on another to lead the Rams to their first victory. 

Coach Chris Van Kovics is hopeful that the skill level of his players with compensate for size mismatches. “We’re not gifted with height, but we have guys who handle the ball real well,” Van Kovics said. “We’re banking on our defense keeping us in matches. So far, we’re doing a nice job of keeping the ball out of our own end.”

Maldonado will be relied on heavily. The senior captain has speed, toughness, and talent, and can find the back of the net, but it’s his ability to distribute the ball that sets him apart. Maldonado will play both midfield and forward.

Forward David Cadet is a very talented player who can score from anywhere on the pitch. Cadet is a scoring threat whenever the ball is on his foot. Fellow junior Jalen Jean is quick on the wing and does some real good things for the Rams. Van Kovics will use Jean at midfield and forward. 

Junior Ellean Maldonado, another player who can perform in multiple positions, is the fastest player on the team. After being called up to the varsity early in his sophomore season, Maldonado never looked back. Junior Edwin Gutierrez, a first-year varsity player, is a solid midfielder who is great with the ball. Seniors Carlos and John Lombaido round out the midfield.

Defense should be a strength. Senior captain Danny Torrentes, a returning starter, can play anywhere on the backline, likes to make runs, and is a throw-in specialist. Centerback Luis Zavala is quick, fearless, and is terrific at controlling the ball. 

Mohammad Zkout is the biggest player on the team. He wins balls, crosses to the box well, and has the versatility to play midfield. Senior Samuel Brioso is a steady defender and excellent communicator. Junior George Meyer will see plenty of time on defense.

Freshman keeper Bryan Burgess is quick and athletic, but is new to the position so there will be growing pains. Senior Justin Duran and junior Chris Garcia are in the forward rotation. 

The Rams will host Island Trees next Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m.