Christian Cardenas is hoping to go 3-for-3.
But right now he’ll settle for just another chance.
Cardenas is a senior at Northeast High School, and during his career he’s collected a pair of Public League soccer championships.
During his freshman year, he saw a little time on a senior-heavy team that went on to win it all. And in his junior year, Cardenas led a defense that helped spark a championship run last year.
This year, he wanted to help his team repeat as the best in the Public League, but coronavirus had other ideas. He’s not going to get a chance to win another title until at least 2021, if ever, at Northeast.
“When I heard things were canceled, we were all heartbroken because we wanted to play, but now we just have to hope we can play soon,” said Cardenas, a Mayfair resident. “It was hard for everyone. We knew we probably weren’t going to play on time, but now we’re just hoping we get to play next year. I’ll play in January.”
Cardenas knows the pain of sitting out a year at his high school. After a promising freshman year that saw him see time on an experienced team, he decided to focus on club soccer. During that year, he improved his game, but he missed being with his friends.
“I didn’t play because I played for (Academy Soccer), and I couldn’t play that and high school, but I really missed playing, so I came back,” Cardenas said. “I’m happy I did. I changed positions, and it worked out pretty well. Last year, I mostly played defense.
“I like defense. I’m a physical player, so playing (center back) is good because I get to do a lot of different things. I’m usually the last guy back. And I like it. I don’t really care about stats. I could be last in scoring on the team, but if we win, I’ll be happy. I just have fun when we’re winning, and if we’re going to win, I’m not going to score a lot because I have to focus on defense.”
That’s exactly what happened last year.
Cardenas did score five goals for the Vikings, but his biggest responsibility was making sure the defense kept opposing teams off the scoreboard. And he did that well, including helping Northeast defeat Franklin Towne Charter 2-0 in the championship.
He knows for the Vikings to have a chance at a repeat if the season is rescheduled for 2021, it’s not going to happen without a lot of effort. That’s why he’s making sure his teammates are staying ready. He has no idea how much advance notice they’ll get before a restart, and that could be an advantage or a disadvantage.
“We’ve been getting together a few times over the summer to run because we spent a lot of time during the shutdown not working out,” Cardenas said. “I stayed in shape by working out on my own, going to the gym or running at the park. But the first few times we worked out, a lot of guys were out of shape. It’s because they weren’t working out. It was hard to find places to work out, nobody was going out.
“Now we’re working out together a few times, and I’m staying up on everyone on text. We’re all making sure we’re ready. We really want to get a chance to play and if we get a chance, we want to be ready.”
It’s that attitude that made Cardenas a perfect captain last year. He is slated to be one this year, too. Another year as a player and leader should help Cardenas reach his goal of playing soccer in college.
Like all seniors, having a season canceled won’t be easy for Cardenas, since college coaches won’t get an opportunity to see him play. But he’s already heard from some schools and he hopes his resume will be strong enough to at least get an opportunity to play at the next level.
“I really want to play in college, but I have to talk it over with everyone to see what the best fit is,” Cardenas said. “I really don’t know what I want to study, but I think I like business, so that could be a possibility. I really like math, so business would be something I’m interested in.
“I think teams will like me because I’m a physical player and I’m able to play a lot of different positions. I can play anywhere they need me. I can play anywhere but goalkeeper, and if they need me to, I’ll do that, too.”
Cardenas sees soccer in his future, but right now the focus is on getting another chance to play in Black and Red.
Another banner would mean everything.
“Winning as a freshman was pretty cool because it’s always great to win a championship,” Cardenas said. “But winning last year was even better because I had a bigger role. It’s always fun to win a championship, but it means a lot more, I think, when you play.
“We really want to try to win another one. We’re all trying to stay in shape and ready. I think we have a good team. I just hope we get a chance to play. We’ll be ready whenever they say we can start playing.”