CEDAR GROVE — Erupting for a scoring onslaught of 12 goals, the Cedar Grove boys’ soccer team set a season-high for goals in a single game in an 12-0 blowout victory of Newark Collegiate Friday afternoon at home.
The Panthers received goals off the feet of Simone Saletta, Gavin O’Connor, Jakub Zajac, Amr Korayem, Joseph Kang, Matt DeGennaro, Dan Lay and Joe Gerard. Cedar Grove put the game away in the first half by scoring nine goals, then buried three more shots between the posts in the final 40 minutes to put the finishing touches on the team’s ninth win of the season.
“We just wanted to come in here, get a win and stay healthy,” Cedar Grove head coach Mike Konopka told TAPinto.net. “We’ve got a county game tomorrow and didn’t want to really exert too much energy — it’s tough playing back-to-back games in soccer. We came with the offense today. That wasn’t a concern.”
Bringing most of the offense was Simone Saletta, who had a career day in the scoring department for the Panthers. The sophomore netted five total goals — a new career high — and also dished out an assist. More than doubling his season goals total in Friday’s game alone, Simone is now tied with his brother, Massimo, for the team lead in goals (7).
“Simone has been working hard. I wanted to get him some opportunities today; we played him up top, and he didn’t disappoint,” said coach Konopka of his forward. “I actually had to turn him off for a little bit. He was scoring so many, I don’t know how many he could’ve scored today.”
Not only Saletta, but if the team as a whole didn’t quiet things down a bit, there’s no telling how many goals the scoreboard would’ve displayed. Cedar Grove put the game away barely after it started, and at halftime, was on pace to score way more goals than it would eventually wind up with.
The Panthers found the back of the net five times in the game’s first 10 minutes, then scored four more times in another 10 minute span ranging from the 17th to the 27th minutes. The roaring first half gave the Panthers a 9-0 lead entering the intermission.
Cedar Grove's defense did its part as well, limiting Newark Collegiate to just two shots on goal. Panthers goalie Dom Bryant posted on save in his sixth shutout of the season.
Despite the dominance on all facets, Friday’s match perils in comparison to the task Cedar Grove has ahead of itself Saturday afternoon. Entering the Essex County Tournament as the No. 23 seed, the Panthers will take on No. 22 North 13th Street Tech in the preliminary round at 4:30 p.m. Cedar Grove fell to the same school by a score of 2-0 on Sep. 25.
“Unfortunately, this is not the kind of game you want to tune up for a county game. It’s alright because it’s before, but what we did today is not how we’re going to approach the game on Saturday,” Konopka said. “I wish I could say better things, but we’re not going to play the same way. It’s a different team, a different game, and different situation.”
Saturday's county tournament game will be played at the neutral location of Weequahic Park, located on Elizabeth Ave. in Newark.