Dominick Zator, Jay Wheeldon highlight list of Cavalry FC departures

Defenders Dominick Zator, Jonathan Wheeldon, and Dean Northover, and midfielder Bruno Zebie will not return to Cavalry FC for the 2021 Canadian Premier League season, the club announced on Tuesday.

Zator, 26, represents the biggest departure for the Cavs. The former Vancouver Whitecaps 2 and Calgary Foothills centre-back declined Cavalry’s contract extension to “explore free agency,” the club said in a media release.

Cavalry’s all-time appearance leader with 39 games and 3,000 minutes played, Zator emerged as one of the CPL’s best defenders over the last two seasons. Zator, who was called into Canadian men’s team camp last November, scored some crucial goals in Cavalry’s history, including in their historic victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship and their inaugural game against York9 FC, now York United.

He also impressed at The Island Games last Summer, leading the CPL in passes completed (675), finishing second in aerials duels won (22), and leading the Cavs in tackles (15) and duels won (52).

Wheeldon, 32, departs the club to begin a coaching career, having already obtained his Canada Soccer A License. The younger brother of Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Jonathan was a stalwart centre-back in the CPL, logging over 2,300 minutes between league and Canadian Championship games over two seasons.

Northover, 29, is retiring to pursue other career opportunities. The Calgary native made 15 appearances for the Cavs as a sturdy fullback and was a crucial part of the club until an ACL injury left him sidelined for most of the 2019 Fall season. Northover returned to the club this August, just in time for The Island Games, where he made seven appearances.

Zebie, 25, saw his 2021 option declined at the end of last season, making him a free agent. The versatile midfielder appeared in all nine matches for Cavalry at The Island Games, six as a starter. Zebie joined Cavalry last off-season after making 23 appearances for FC Edmonton in 2019.

All four players were a part of the 2018 Calgary Foothills squad which captured the PDL (now USL 2) Championship and was coached by Tommy Wheeldon Jr. A total of 16 players from that squad debuted in the CPL the following season, including Zator, Zebie, Wheeldon, and Northover.

“I’ve worked with each of these players for many years and can’t thank them enough for what they’ve helped build here in Calgary and their contributions to the growth of the Canadian Premier League,” Wheeldon Jr. said in a statement.

“The world we live in now is an extremely challenging one where lots of sacrifices have been made by many. Wherever they go next in their lives, I’m sure they will add value to that environment with their character and capability.”

Cavalry has 14 players confirmed for the 2021 CPL season including former Goalkeeper of the Year Marco Carducci, Canadian national team midfielder Nik Ledgerwood, and Under-21 Player of the Year Mohamed Farsi.