Redbirds notch first victory with 4-0 shutout of Nottingham

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Allentown High School boys soccer player Steve Cardona looks to pass the ball to a teammate during a game against Nottingham on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Cardona dished out three assists in Allentown's 4-0 victory over Nottingham.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Jordan Duffy controls the ball in the Nottingham zone during a game played on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Duffy scored a game-high two goals in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Carlos Estevez throws the ball in during a game against Nottingham on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Allentown won 4-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Cade Maglione dribbles the ball past midfield during a game against Nottingham on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Maglione scored a goal and had an assist in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Steve Cardona looks to pass the ball to a teammate during a game against Nottingham on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Cardona dished out three assists in Allentown's 4-0 victory over Nottingham.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Jordan Duffy controls the ball in the Nottingham zone during a game played on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Duffy scored a game-high two goals in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Carlos Estevez throws the ball in during a game against Nottingham on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Allentown won 4-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Cade Maglione dribbles the ball past midfield during a game against Nottingham on Sept. 18 in Allentown. Maglione scored a goal and had an assist in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

Scoring goals has been a tough task for the Allentown High School boys soccer team as the 2021 campaign got underway.

The Redbirds entered their home match against Nottingham High School of Hamilton Township on Sept. 18 with only two goals in an 0-3 start.

In the words of first-year coach Shamus Matthews, it was a rough start to the season, but the new coach and his squad went back to the drawing board in an effort to overcome the slow start.

The adjustments the coach and players made paid off against Nottingham as the Redbirds scored four times in a 4-0 victory to secure their first victory of the young season.

“It was awesome,” Matthews said after the match. “We have guys who can shoot and finish. We switched up our formations a bit to give our playmakers more space with the ball. We are going with our strengths. This game will 100% give us confidence going into (a Sept. 21 match against) Princeton.”

Matthews said winning his first game as Allentown’s coach meant a lot to him.

Once Allentown scored in the sixth minute to grab a 1-0 lead, Matthews told his players on the bench his hand was “shaking.” He said he sensed his squad was on its way to winning its first game.

“I’m elated,” Matthews said. “This game means a lot to me. These boys worked very hard and earned this victory. Big things will come for these boys as we look to have a good season.”

Junior Jordan Duffy scored Allentown’s first goal, which was his first varsity goal, in the sixth minute and he netted the Redbirds’ final goal of the match in the 42nd minute.

Before the game, Duffy said he felt good and knew “today was the day” for him.

“It feels so good,” he said of his performance. “Putting those two goals in felt great.”

Senior Steve Cardona assisted on Duffy’s first goal. Cardona’s playmaking skills were a key reason why Allentown scored three goals in the first half and led 3-0 at the break.

In the 29th minute, Cardona’s free kick found Thomas Laurinaitis, who headed in his first goal of the season for a 2-0 lead.

In the 37th minute, Cardona delivered his third assist of the match when his pass upfield found Cade Maglione, who booted home Allentown’s third goal.

“I’m a playmaker,” Cardona said. “I like having assists more (than goals). I felt like my job was to facilitate playing an attacking role. The guys made great runs and I made good passes to them.”

Through four matches, Cardona had one goal and four assists.

Maglione assisted on Duffy’s second goal, giving the sophomore two goals and an assist through four matches.

Senior goalkeeper Kyle Wagner made three saves against Nottingham.

Allentown (1-3) will now play two consecutive Colonial Valley Conference matches; a road game at Princeton on Sept. 21 and a home game against Robbinsville on Sept. 23.

The Redbirds believe their victory over Nottingham can be the start they needed to get on track to make a run in the Mercer County Tournament in October and in the state sectional tournament later in the season.

“I think we can do something in the county tournament and the state tournament,” Cardona said. “We have a good team. I have high hopes for us.”