CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Cedar Grove High School boys soccer team is in the midst of its most successful season in years, with a 7-0 record in the division. With six shutouts in the season, the team is currently leading Essex County in goals scored and goal differential.
The team's biggest win was over East Orange, who is 5-1 in division play.
"This was the first time Cedar Grove defeated East Orange in my nine-year tenure as coach," said coach Mike Konopka. "We have set our goals and expectations high, and we are hoping to make a run late into the season."
On Monday, the Panthers guaranteed at least a tie for first place in the Independence Division with a 1-0 overtime win over North Star Academy.
Now ranked 10th in the state section in power points, team standouts include junior Danny Gonzalez and senior Massimo Saletta, who are currently leading the team in scoring with nine and 10 goals respectively. Senior goalie Jayson Rosen has six shutouts on the year half-way through the season, which surpassed his total for all of last year, which was four.
"The boys are off to a great start to the season. They have maintained a 'get better every day' approach throughout the season, so we continue to focus one practice/game at a time," said Konopka. "Year over year, there are several guys in the lineup who have taken significant leaps in their game, and that has led us to our early season successes."
The Saletta brothers, Massimo and Simone, "have been some of the best players on the field in most games we have played," said Konopka. Massimo is coming off a season where he was named to the All-State team (honoroable mention).
Junior midfielder Joel Botros and freshman midfielder Dillon Ferber have contributed to a greatly improved offense. Konopka also credits a strong back line that includes junior Jakub Zajac, sophomore Anthony Palmieri and sophomore transfer from Bergen Catholic, Paul Skabich.
The team has a home county game against Columbia on Monday. As the 16 seed, this is the highest Cedar Grove has ever been seeded in the Essex County Tournament.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.