Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24: A Player with “Finesse”

Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24 started his soccer career following in his brother’s footsteps. At three years old, Matraji was signed up to play with a local North Andover team, which sparked a passion for the sport. Now, Matraji also plays for the MLS-Next Seacoast United team, and he looks to integrate leadership skills with his strong technique.

“In terms of how much time I spent playing, that’s why I was able to be really technically good [from] a younger age… [As] I got older, the leadership comes and you are able to combine the two things, which helps me [become] a more dominant player on the field,” said Matraji.

According to Paul Gichana ’25, Matraji is a strong leader both on and off the field. Gichana highlighted how Matraji is an approachable teammate that people can easily talk to and look to for advice, especially on the field and during practices and games.

Gichana said, “He is really super supportive when we’re playing. He is always there to celebrate with you, he’s always there to cheer for you when you score, when you do something good. But, he also gives you constructive criticism and advice that could help someone play better for the next game or practice.”

As a newcomer to the team, Kai Myles ’27 appreciated the connection Matraji quickly established with him, which helped him feel at ease not only in a new school setting but also in a location far from his home in Jamaica.

“Zane was actually the first player to reach out to me when I was going to Andover. He offered to do a campus tour with me when I came here and to move in and everything,” said Myles.

Myles stated that Matraji’s composure in the game plays a crucial role in maintaining energy during difficult moments. Matraji is able to reunite the team with confidence and help the players strategize ways to overcome challenges.

“On the field, Zane is one of the guys who helps rally up the boys, especially when we are in tough moments when we can’t get a goal and we need one, or we need to defend all the match, or somebody is having an argument. He always makes sure that everything is good and [makes] sure that we do it as a team and not as individuals,” said Myles.

Matraji’s soccer career has shaped his leadership style, as his various experiences on a team helps him to empathize with his teammates. Matraji explained how he strives to set a positive example for the team through his actions.

“Sometimes using words isn’t enough, and oftentimes you come off as demeaning and a little too harsh…but doing what you want other kids to do is the best thing to do in my experience. The manner in which I lead allows me to feel like I can understand people. As a player, personally, I have seen a lot of different stages of my career. There were times when I wasn’t playing at all on my team, so I understand how that feels and I am able to use that perspective to better communicate with kids on the team,” said Matraji.

Spencer Salhanick ’24 noted how Matraji’s creative tactics are impressive, especially through their time playing together on the team. Salhanick highlighted Matraji’s keen soccer sense and field awareness, as well as how entertaining his abilities are.

“Zane has the most finesse on the team. I am always mesmerized by the way he can receive the ball, and I think his playstyle is the most exciting out of anyone on the team as you don’t really know what will happen. Also his crosses are the best on the team. He always finds a way to get passes into the box and into the right spot. He scores a surprising amount of headers which means he can put himself into the correct positions. He is very fun to watch and just impressive overall,” said Salhanick.

Matraji looks forward to leading Andover at the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) championships. With one of the strongest teams in recent years, he has faith that with a good work ethic and a strong mentality, the team will achieve its championship aspirations.

“I enjoy and love leading the boys out there every day, they are like my family, and hopefully this year we can go and win the NEPSAC,” said Matraji.