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There’s a lot more to junior Zach Chandis than simply being an intense soccer defenseman. He also plays lacrosse.
Being a two-sport athlete is rare in Division I, let alone being a standout like Chandis on two fields of play.
Known to his lacrosse team as the “Chanimal,” Chandis brings a certain level of intensity that many who play with him describe as infectious. As a center midfielder in soccer and a defensive midfielder in lacrosse, Chandis has been valuable both as a player and teammate.
“He combines an incredible intensity with complete commitment in a way that sets the bar high for others on his team,” said soccer captain Andrew Old.
Ever since his freshman year, Chandis has been an impenetrable force against Ivy League offenses in both the fall and spring.
“Zach always comes ready to play,” said Harvard soccer coach John Kerr. “We always put him against their most creative player. People can’t get away from him—he’s too fast to go by and too tough to push out of the way. Physically, he’s incredibly fast and strong.”
Chandis’s lacrosse team notes similar strengths, both of body and character.
“Zach is possibly one of the most fierce competitors I’ve ever met in my life,” said lacrosse captain Jake Mckenna. “He’s the type of kid that you’d pick first if you were going into battle. He’ll stand up to the biggest gun on the other team and go after him until the last whistle blows. He’s truly an amazing individual.”
Chandis started in several contests as a freshman on both squads. In fact, there was only one game his freshman year that he didn’t appear in, between both sports. His sophomore year was much of the same, with Chandis being an everyday contributor.
Balancing two sports is a daunting task at any school, but Chandis feels that always being in season gives him discipline which helps him balance Harvard’s rigorous academics.
Chandis says he chose Harvard not only for its academic opportunities, but also for the fact that it was the only Division I school where he had the opportunity to play both soccer and lacrosse.
When he began looking at colleges, Chandis worried he might have to decide between the less-competitive world of Division III sports, or being able to only play one sport at the Division I level. Harvard was the only school that guaranteed him the chance to play both. He followed in the Ivy-league footsteps of his older sister, Vanessa, who played field hockey at Brown.
He also cites growing up that, “Pele was a real hero of mine. I never really watched him play but the fact that he was out there playing, I really respect that.”
Ever since he came to Harvard, Chandis has endured both the joys and difficulties of his particular situation. Considering he is only out of season for a few months in the winter, Chandis finds himself frequently hurt but always dealing with the pain.
Last spring he suffered through the lacrosse season with two bulging discs in his back, and he is currently playing through the soccer season with a broken toe. However, none of this affects him come game time.
“He gets out there and he’s like a bull in a china shop,” Old said.
At times this aggression can take him a little too far, as Chandis missed the game against Maine due to a red card he had received in a game against Hartford for tackling.
Currently Chandis is looking at the remainder of his soccer season and his spring lacrosse season expectantly. When asked his goals for his teams he blatantly responded, “Win everything.”
Despite soccer’s loss to Yale this past weekend, Chandis is very positive regarding his team’s ability to win Ivies as well as earn an NCAA berth.
“We’re a very underrated team. I’m confident in what we’re capable of. With regards to Yale, our team believes in the motto, ‘Cut us down, and we’ll grow back stronger.’ Quite stronger.”
He has similar good faith in the lacrosse team.
“We’re a young team with a lot of potential. Our veterans will do a good job of showing the young guys the ropes,” Chandis said.
Certainly any success either team has will be partially attributable to the vicious 5’10” defenseman in the backfield. And with the high standards Chandis sets for himself as well as the way his intensity pushes his teams, there’s a chance that Chandis could have two different Ivy League titles before he graduates.
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