Down on the corner …
South Hunterdon senior standout Conlan Paventi had a hat trick before halftime Tuesday as the host Eagles dismantled Skyland Mountain foe Warren Tech (0-2) 8-0. A 26-goal scorer last year, Paventi now has seven on the season.
Three of Paventi’s first four goals – the St. John’s commit ended the game with five – came directly or indirectly from corner kicks. Paventi headed in a Chris Romano corner early for South Hunterdon’s (2-2) first score and headed in a second goal from a corner midway through the first half.
Another corner kick led to Paventi getting his fourth goal of the game, which put the Eagles up 5-0 at halftime.
“Mostly Chris and Jason (Sutton) take the corners,” Paventi described. “They’ll look for me out wide to head the ball in the air. We have some good guys in the air. We score a lot of goals off of set pieces so we try and get as many as we can to put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Eagles went up 2-0 when Daniel Ingersoll fed Matt Cally and Cally finished.
“I made a run down the right half of the field. Usually the ball gets played out wide so I was wide open,” recalled Cally in describing his first score of the fall. “We had a beautiful ball played in from Daniel Ingersoll and I was able to cross it in, back post.”
Paventi’s tap off of Romano’s throw in made it 4-0. Paventi, who adds to his South Hunterdon career goals and assist record with every score, thumped in a cross early in the second half, which extended the lead to 6-0.
“He is a dynamic player with pace, skills and soccer IQ,” said Eagle coach Dan McMillan. “That’s a pretty deadly trio and why he is heading to St. John’s.”
“I’m getting two or three guys on me, sometimes even four if I’m man marked by two,” Paventi added. “It’s a different game now because I have to play off the ball and get open, then get on the ball and go from there. This offseason was a lot of off-ball movement and getting in shape, because I’ll be running all game.”
Goals from Eder Nolasco and Jared Kreider rounded out the scoring. Romano, Ingersoll and Jason Sutton each had two assists.
“We tried to build and connect a lot of passes, and work some good goals there,” McMillan explained. “And also try some of our set piece plays. We scored a couple off of the corners while running some plays. We’re trying to make some changes with our overall system of play.”
“One of the biggest things we wanted to do was string together passes,” echoed Cally. “We kind of knew from years past how this game might go.”
Keeper Ryan Balog had a save to preserve South Hunterdon’s second clean sheet.
The Eagles have beaten Warren Tech by at least four goals in their last six matches. South Hunterdon faces a tougher test on Thursday, when it travels to Immaculata for its fifth straight divisional game.
But Tuesday served notice of what the Eagles can do. “We’re making that system change,” McMillan said. “Instead of the long ball, we’re trying to knock it and work it. Guys are pretty technical, skilled guys and I like how we’re working the ball around.”
“What I really like about this squad, particularly with last game coming into this game, is we started knocking the ball around a lot better compared to our loss at Bound Brook,” Cally added. “We stepped it up and we’re ready to start a winning streak.”