CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Heading into the season the Cedar Grove boys soccer team is expecting a large leap forward propelled by the team’s familiarity with one another.
“The fact that we’ve got that chemistry now and we’re just looking to polish it up…if we can translate that chemistry to more goal scoring we might be a dark horse to watch out for,” said Head Coach Mike Konopka.
Defensively the Panthers return a strong cast of players who will help to baffle opposing attackers. Junior Jakub Zajak comes off of a strong season where he was All-Conference and bands together with sophomores Anthony Palmieri and Paul Skabich.
“I think our defensive unit will probably be up there with the best in our conference,” said Konopka.
In goal Jayson Rosen returns for his senior season looking to continue on a solid career. Last season Rosen notched 69 saves on the year with four shutouts to his name.
“[Rosen] is progressing on a year to year basis. He shows up and he’s working hard, he’s become a solid reliable goaltender for us,” said Konopka.
On the attack the Panthers bring back juniors Aiden DeSena and Dan Gonzalez along with senior Dan Kielur. The trio will look to improve on last season where they combined for nine goals and four assists.
“A lot of them got a lot of minutes last year with a number of them starting so it’s really good for us to have,” said Konopka.
In the midfield Cedar Grove will rely on the veteran presence of Simone and Massimo Saletta. Last season the brothers combined for seven goals and five assists
“With the [Saletta] twins I’m expecting them to be dominant in the central midfield, both of them could have big years, both of them could be All-State candidates,” said Konopka.
Sophomore Max Rodrigues and junior Blaize Benson round out the grouping in the midfield for Cedar Grove.
As the season quickly draws near the Panthers have been refining their skills to get ready for a strong campaign. The squad competed in an exhibition tournament just a few weeks ago in Gettysburg and came back to several scrimmages that gave room for optimism.
“We did really well there. We were pretty competitive…our guys are holding their own,” said Konopka.
Cedar Grove will open against West Caldwell Tech on September 4 looking to start their season strong.
“We’re still building into our fitness and I’m expecting a strong performance,” said Konopka.
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