ROSELLE, NJ - Under normal circumstances, the Roselle Rams boys soccer team would have had a slim chance of beating the Summit boys. But with the Hilltoppers beginning the game with an 11-on-9 advantage because of Roselle absentees, Tuesday's road game at Grace Wilday School in Roselle was merely a formality for Summit, as the Hilltoppers rolled to an easy 7-0 shutout.
"The goal for today was to obviously get everyone in, hopefully we could get the result we wanted, which was more or less to score goals and to keep a shutout," said Summit head coach Chris Yager.
Within the first two minutes of the game, Summit was already on the board. Eric Reyes dropped in a perfect corner kick, which Ashley Healey headed at the keeper for a save, which was rebounded onto the foot of Nick Abbott, who did not waste the chance, giving Summit a 1-0 lead.
Twenty minutes later, John Burns had scored for Summit and Abbott had notched his second score of the game, staking Summit to a 3-0 lead, midway through the opening half. Defender James Strabley put the Hilltoppers up 4-0, after he picked up a deflected ball in front of the net and put it home.
"Everybody played well," Yager said. "A few of the freshmen came in and played very well, which is the goal especially for the development factor, and we have a very good freshman group that we're hoping to build and push during the offseason. Ultimately, I can't really categorize one individual [who stood out], we had a few seniors who stepped up early, and that motivation and consistency maintained."
It was more of the same in the second half. Andre Zeledon opened the half with a goal, converting a rebounded save from a Mike Williams shot. Minutes later, James Holzer took a pass from Steven Salazaar at the top of the box, settled the ball and lofted a beautiful chip shot just above the reach of Roselle's keeper for the score. Alejandro Ramirez scored the game's final goal, off of an assist from Zeledon.
"Ultimately, it was in the kids' heads today: possess, move the ball, play as a team, get everyone touches and move the ball," Yager said.
Tuesday's game marked the boys' second consecutive win and their second straight game scoring seven goals. The 14 total goals over the past two games are more than the boys scored in the previous five games combined.
Of course, the last two games have been against inferior opponents, all leading up to the big showdown at Tatlock on Thursday against Scotch Plains. The Raiders will come into Summit with a 15-1-2 record, and as the unquestioned best team in Union County. While it's an out of division game, and will have no bearing on Summit's seeding in the upcoming state tournament, Yager said he and his team are looking at the game as great preparation for the postseason, as the Raiders will be one of the best, if not the best team they see all season.
"The focus for us over the last few days has been getting ready for Scotch Plains, right before the tournament starts," Yager said. "I don't think we are going to see a team to that level, we haven't seen one other than Governor Livingston."
Summit improved to 11-4-1 with the win, while Roselle dropped to 5-9-2 after the loss. The Hilltoppers suit up again on Senior Day on Thursday afternoon at Tatlock, where they'll be seeking a third straight win.