He's our guy," West Chester Henderson soccer coach Sean Ryan said of highly respected senior Max Zandi. "It's been that way for a while. We are comfortable with him. He's our guy."
He's our guy.
The statement is unequivocal, resolute, kind of like the way Zandi has helped lead the Warriors as a captain the last three years. Because of the way he confidently but quietly captained the PIAA District 1 Class 4A champions as well as many intangibles that are extremely difficult to quantify, the defender is the 2016 Southeastern Pennsylvania boys' soccer player of the year.
"He knits the rest of the team together," Ryan said. "He gave confidence to the guys to the side of him, the guys in front of him. Just knowing he was there and would cover for them. Other coaches equated him to having another coach on the field for us."
Zandi played a variety of roles with the Warriors, including starting his career in the midfield. But Ryan soon moved him to center back to help out the team. The change solidified the unit, and he quickly became one of the most consistent and dependable backs in the area. Never prone to make mistakes, the Villanova recruit also helped jump-start the attack serving balls in, whether through getting it forward or off a restart. Solid in the air, smart on the ball, and a good tackler, he made it tough for opposing players to get by him.
As a result, Henderson earned 14 shutouts and went 23-2-1, allowing more than one goal in a game only three times on the season.
"The big question we have to solve is how do we move on without him?" Ryan said of next year. "I don't think we replace him. I don't think we get anyone like him again."