High expectations could be the undoing of a team with less fortitude — and talent — that No. 1 Calvert Hall brought to the pitch this fall.

Yet the Cardinals rose to the occasion in every facet of the game, melding skill and spirit to complete an unbeaten season in the rugged Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference with Player of the Year Ben Madore and Defensive Player of the Year Josh Nagy leading the way on the field and Coach of the Year Rich Zinkand piloting the program with a firm and steady hand from the sideline.

Here are there stories:

Calvert Hall senior Ben Madore, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Boys Soccer Player of the Year. (VSN Staff)

Player of the Year

Ben Madore, Calvert Hall College

It’s not easy picking one player to stand alone among a group with such a dynamic profile as the 2022 Calvert Hall Cardinals, who averaged nearly three goals per match while posting a 24-0-1 record.

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Yet Ben Madore was the obvious choice to be selected as the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Player of the Year for his ability to excel all over the pitch, giving the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champions the extra push required to withstand challenge after challenge in a long and successful campaign.

In the second game of the season, it was Madore who saw to it that the No. 1 Cardinals would not fall prey to an inspired McDonogh squad intent on pulling off an early upset. The Penn State commit’s “Golden Goal” at the 2:14 mark of the first overtime doomed the Eagles to a 1-0 setback.

Madore praised the Eagles, who “came out pressing us — props to them. They’re a great team with a great coach.” This prompted McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta to say that he’s seen Madore’s scoring skills many times while coaching the star midfielder for the Pipeline Soccer Club.

The Penn State commit would have several other clutch goals among his 14 scores this fall, and would help others do the same numerous times while producing a whopping 22 assists this season.

Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand, whose team tied with New Jersey’s St. Benedict for the top spot in the prepsoccer.com national rankings, said that Cardinals’ central midfielder has it all.

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”He’s a big-time player, and big-time players make big plays,” he said. “He plays with great energy, has great vision and is great with the ball at his feet so he can take guys on.”

Other Madore highlights included an absolute 30-yard bomb on a direct kick against No. 2 John Carroll in a rematch of the Cards’ only blemish of the season, a 3-3 deadlock in Bel Air.

He would add another goal and assist junior Rocco Pastore on the game’s first goal in a 5-1 triumph.

Madore was just as good, if not better, on a much-anticipated trip to Cleveland in early October to take on national power and four-time defending Ohio state Division I champion St. Ignatius. Trailing 2-0, he scored late in the first half to settle the Cardinals down before slotting a shot into the net in the 69th minute to equalize, giving his teammates the confidence they needed to secure a 4-2 victory.

”With our team, we have a lot of trust in each other,” Madore said. “We have a lot of grit and talent. We knew we could come back and that game showed that we could.”

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And while he didn’t score in a 2-1 championship win over John Carroll, his one-goal, three-assist performance in a 5-0 triumph over Archbishop Curley in the semifinal round was another big Madore moment.

Regardless of how many goals or assists he provided in a particular match, Madore’s play-making ability helped Calvert Hall to reign supreme in the MIAA Conference for the second straight year and the Baltimore Banner/VSN Top 15 rankings.

”Ben stands out among so many talented teammates due to his ability to consistently make the right decisions throughout the game,” said 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Defensive Player of the Year and Calvert Hall classmate Josh Nagy said. “He is an unselfish player with a high IQ, skill and athleticism.”

Calvert Hall senior Josh Nagy, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Boys Soccer Defensive Player of the Year.
Calvert Hall senior Josh Nagy, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Boys Soccer Defensive Player of the Year. (VSN Staff)

Defensive Player of the Year

Josh Nagy, Calvert Hall College

The 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Boys Soccer Defensive Player of the Year Josh Nagy stood tall for Calvert Hall’s championship soccer squad this season in more ways than one.

At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, the Naval Academy lacrosse commit took command in the air while also buttressing the Cardinals’ backline on the pitch — and in the locker room — with a commanding presence that demanded respect.

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”What makes Josh such a standout on a team with so many good defenders is that he’s a leader on and off the field,” said Ben Madore, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Player of the Year and Naggy’s Calvert Hall classmate. “He’s always positive toward the team and helps calm someone down when needed.”

His peers can’t help but to look up to Nagy for his skill and keen sense of being where he was needed most.

That usually means the center back is charged with taking on the opponents’ top scorer, game after game, while using speed and athleticism to maintain the Cardinals’ tight defensive contour.

”He covered the best player on the other team — and never disappointed,” Madore added. “He’s a great role model for other center backs who want to be great.”

With Nagy and fellow defenders Ben Ramsey and Gabe Glikin stationed in front of senior keeper Nate Jones, Calvert Hall recorded 14 shutouts and boasted a gaudy 0.6 goals-against average this fall.

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All of that happened after the Cardinals came into the season as a heavy favorite to repeat in the ultra-competitive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference while also living up to being ranked third nationally by prepsoccer.com.

With all eyes on the Cardinals, and a huge target on their backs, Nagy and his buddies in the back came ready to play.

After allowing just one goal in its first three wins, Calvert Hall was stunned when second-ranked John Carroll scored in the opening minute of the first encounter between the two heavyweights in early September.

The Patriots would eventually lead, 3-2, in the second half when Nagy found the net by heading in a Madore corner kick for the equalizer. He also showed his versatility by netting a tying goal in another key match, a 3-2 triumph over No. 3 Loyola Blakefield later in the season.

While the initial game against John Carroll ended in a 3-3 deadlock, the Cardinals would only allow only 11 more goals during their ensuing 21-game winning streak, culminating in a 2-1 verdict over the Patriots in the championship match.

In that battle, John Carroll surged ahead on an own-goal, an event that could have rattled a team with less resolve.

Nagy and company, however, buckled down to blank the high-powered Patriots’ offense over the finals 77 minutes of regulation and 15 minutes of overtime — until senior Rich Monath’s “Golden Goal” completed a 2-1 comeback.

“Our coaches helped to take the pressure off us this season by telling us to take it game by game,” Nagy said. “We would focus solely on the team we were playing. Personally, in the championship game, I wasn’t worried. I knew we would come back.”

It was the same way when the Cardinals faced their biggest deficit of the year, 2-0, against four-time reigning Ohio state Division I champion St. Ignatius in Cleveland.

Calvert Hall’s defense again stepped to the fore by shutting out the Wildcats in the second half as the visitors mounted a four-goal run to win going away.

“Never once did I think we were going to lose that game,” said Nagy, exuding the kind of confidence the defense needed to prevail against so many skilled opponents.

Pointing to Nagy’s versatility and athleticism, the standout lacrosse midfielder said that he is also seriously considering the opportunity to play soccer for the Midshipmen.

Calvert Hall coach and the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Soccer Coach of the Year Rich Zinkand said that Nagy is definitely capable of playing the sport at the Division I level.

”Josh is a phenomenal athlete,” Zinkand added. “He closes space very quickly. He’s very strong and had a couple of big goals for us this year on set pieces.”

Calvert Hall soccer head coach Rich Zinkand, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. (VSN Staff)

Coach of the Year

Rich Zinkand, Calvert Hall College

It’s difficult to imagine a team having a better year than the 2022 Calvert Hall Cardinals.

At least that’s what Rich Zinkand, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Boys Soccer Coach of the Year, believes after leading his alma mater to its third Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship in his 11-year tenure at the Towson school.

After winning the 2021 title with a junior-laden squad, this year’s team was loaded with returning talent and enormous expectations.

With Zinkand’s steady hand on the tiller, and assistant coaches Frank Assaro and Geoff Foltyn as key allies, the Cardinals never faltered while producing a 24-0-1 record and finishing atop the prep soccer.com national rankings with St. Benedict’s of New Jersey. They also went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the the Baltimore Banner/VSN Top 15 rankings.

”Geoff really keeps the guys up,” Zinkand said. “And Frank makes sure that everybody’s in the right place at the right time — that everyone knows their roles.”

While the coaches bounce ideas off one another, Zinkand makes final decisions on everything from the system to substitutions.

Yet he does so with a low-key profile that is as calm as it is commanding.

”I think it’s good to keep your composure,” Zinkand said, knowing that players — he played for the Cardinals’ legendary coach Bill Karpovich before graduating in 1987 — often follow the demeanor of the sideline staff in the heat of the battle.

In the end, though, as much as Zinkand would like to move the Cardinals the way a chess master moves pieces on the board, he refrained from being overly controlling.

Instead, he allowed his players plenty of leeway to excel.

”It’s a players’ game,” Zinkand said. “Those guys control the ball and they have to trust their instincts.”

In almost every situation, his deft touch affected a deep and talented squad in a positive manner, particularly when the Cardinals faced a 2-goal first-half deficit against Ohio powerhouse St. Ignatius in Cleveland.

“When we were down at halftime to St. Ignatius, Coach Rich told us to keep our composure and to just play our game,” said Calvert Hall senior central midfielder Ben Madore, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Player of the Year. “We are a team with a lot of heart and desire, and he knew that. He always had belief in us even when we were down and knew we could come back from any deficit.”

Earlier in the season, No. 2 John Carroll stunned the Cardinals by scoring in the first minute of a match that would end in a 3-3 deadlock. Through those perilous moments, Zinkand never lost his cool.

”Coach Rich’s composure provides my teammates and I with confidence and focus throughout the course of play,” said Calvert Hall senior center back Josh Nagy, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Defensive Player of the Year. “He holds our team to a high standard and has faith in us as a group.”