The Clinton Cardinals soccer program completed a 6-16 season after a first round overtime loss to St. Paul Lutheran (Concordia) in the Class 2 District 6 tournament back in the end of October.
The Cardinals were led by just four seniors in Matteo Calabrese, Garrett Ethridge, Gage Ross and Gavin Tennal. The seniors did their part to help re-establish the program after posting back-to-back winning seasons as recently as 2020 and 2021.
When they return in the fall of 2024, Cardinals head coach Zachary Adams will rely on several returning players who gained valuable experience this year. We caught up with Coach Adams recently to talk to him about the season.
OS: What was your record this season?
ZA: Our record was 6-16 this year.
OS: What are your thoughts on the season?
ZA: Our record was not great, but we were a young team with not a lot of varsity experience. We continued to improve throughout the season and we gave ourselves a chance to compete in districts.
OS: What goals did you accomplish as a coach?
ZA: We accomplished my goal of getting better as the season went on. We also took care of business in the classroom and hopefully will have a good amount of academic all conference players.
OS: In what ways did the athletes grow as a team?
ZA: They grew together and became a family. Like many families, there were some tough times, but in the end, they always played hard and had each other's backs.
OS: How did the team perform at districts?
ZA: Though we lost our first district game, I was very proud of our performance and effort. We had to play St. Paul for the third time and lost in double overtime. It was a hard fought game that could have gone either way.
OS: What is your favorite moment from this season?
ZA: My favorite moment from the season would be senior night. It was our second time playing St. Paul after they had beaten us earlier in the season during the Clinton Cup. We had just lost our goalie the day before and Garrett Ethridge stepped up to play goalie for us on his senior night. With the energy of the other two seniors, Gage Ross and Gavin Tennal, the team played hard and were able to come away with a 2-1 win. We were also able to recognize our senior foreign exchange student, Matteo Calabrese, so it was an exciting night even with all the rain.
OS: Did the team improve from the start of the season?
ZA: Yes, I believe we improved from the start of the season. Our passing and ability to possess was our biggest improvement throughout the season.
OS: Did team morale remain high after the loss at districts?
ZA: Losing the last game of the year is tough. But only one team can win it all. The boys played hard though and were able to walk out with their heads held high knowing they gave it their all.
OS: How did the senior players react to playing their last game?
ZA: Like the rest of the team, they seemed upset about the loss. It's the last time that the team will play together.
OS: Are you hopeful for next years season?
ZA: While we will miss our seniors, we will return 14 players who started at least one varsity game this year. The senior class next year will have five guys playing their fourth year for the school and another playing his third year. Between the leadership of the senior class, the returning underclassmen, and the upcoming freshmen class, we can continue to build and improve off this year.