When the Egg Harbor Township boys soccer team plays with patience and pace, and keeps its shape, it can produce some dynamic scoring opportunities.
Visiting Wildwood Catholic got a valiant effort from keeper Anthony Zampirri, but the Eagles’ relentless offensive attack took its toll in the second half on Saturday morning. Jon Gjyleri scored a hat trick and had an assist, and three other players scored as the Eagles rolled to a 6-0 victory to remain unbeaten.
Egg Harbor Township (2-0) held just a 1-0 lead at halftime after Arian Redzepi found the back of the net in the 31st minute, then exploded for four goals in a 10-minute span early in the second half to salt away the win. Alex Peleaz made it 2-0 in the 48th minute when he cleaned up a rebound after Andrew Fernandes’ shot was saved by Zampirri. Gjyleri then added two goals in less than three minutes, the first of which came as he ran onto a brilliant pass from Robert Dessoye from 25 yards out.
“I saw I was one-on-one with the defender, so I faked the run inside and (Robert) read that and knew I was going to outside,” said Gjyleri, a senior captain. “I was able to tap it in, but that’s a credit to him, that was a great service. Without the service, I can’t score on that play.”
“These guys are on the same page. The two of them have been playing varsity since their freshman year. Robert being up in the attacking third as a back is something we work on so we can play a ball like that. It was a great finish. Jon read it well out of the air, it was a great finish, and even a great keeper like that doesn’t have a chance. That was nice,” said EHT coach Pete Lambert. “It’s good to see these guys clicking. We have 14 seniors this year and they have been playing together for a long time, so if we can stay healthy and stay on the same page, I think it’s going to be a heck of a year.”
Jacob Everson made it 5-0 in the 57th minute when he tapped in a loose ball after a great run to goal by Anthony Torres, and Gjyleri capped off his hat trick in the 79th minute.
“Coming into the game, we knew their keeper was their best player. He’s been an all-conference player for three years now. I never really had a chance to see him play, but I hear about him and I read about him. He did everything for them,” Lambert said. “I told our guys to just relax, that it would come. I thought we were dangerous because we were getting balls wide and we were getting balls in the box, he was just making the saves. So, in the second half we just had to continue to do what we were doing — combination play, get balls wide, whip them in, and we were able to score. If you put enough pressure on, good things will happen.”
The Eagles had a ton of chances in the first half, but Zampirri came up with several big saves to keep the Crusaders in the game.
“It was frustrating in the first half. We just weren’t clicking. It’s a little hotter than it normally is at the beginning of the season, but we have guys who can come off the bench and give us breaks. At the end of the day, we got the result we wanted, and that’s all that matters,” Gjyleri said. “That keeper, I’ve been playing against him since I was little, and he’s a great keeper. He was making some big saves, but when you get a lot of chances some of them are bound to go in no matter how good a keeper is. But it’s a credit to him.”
Lambert said he felt the Crusaders were going to play a defensive minded game, and that the Eagles just had to keep trying different tactics throughout the game to see what was going to work.
“Against ACIT we didn’t play our best game, so we knew the offensive third that combination play and putting balls wide; we kind of just threw a couple of things at them to see what would work,” Lambert said. “They were playing a little more defensively, so we just tried to one-two touch around them to create space. And that eventually opened things up. We’re confident that goals will come from all positions, we just have to be patient.”
Gjyleri said he was happy with the hat trick, but is more concerned about winning games than scoring goals.
“I have to give all the credit to my team. I may get some goals and people might think that’s all I care about, but at the end of the day it’s the win that matters,” he said. “Our keeper and our defense did well, our midfield did well and anyone who was working with me up top did well also.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays