Resilient Redbirds stay strong with 4-2 victory over Trenton Central

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The Allentown High School boys soccer team huddles up before its game against Trenton on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Trenton 4-2 to win its second game of the season. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Giovanni Pierleonardi intercepts a pass intended for Trenton's Adrian Matamoros during a game played on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Allentown won 4-2.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Steve Cardona breaks free up the sideline during a game against Trenton on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Cardona had an assist in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Manny Olorunnisola dribbles the ball across the field during a game against Trenton on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Olorunnisola scored a game-high two goals in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Thomas Laurinaitis fends off a Trenton defender during a game played on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Laurinaitis scored a goal in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The Allentown High School boys soccer team huddles up before its game against Trenton on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Trenton 4-2 to win its second game of the season. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Giovanni Pierleonardi intercepts a pass intended for Trenton's Adrian Matamoros during a game played on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Allentown won 4-2.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Steve Cardona breaks free up the sideline during a game against Trenton on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Cardona had an assist in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Manny Olorunnisola dribbles the ball across the field during a game against Trenton on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Olorunnisola scored a game-high two goals in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School boys soccer player Thomas Laurinaitis fends off a Trenton defender during a game played on Sept. 30 in Allentown. Laurinaitis scored a goal in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

Tragedy struck the core of the Allentown High School boys soccer program on Sept. 20. Just two days after the Redbirds won their first game of the 2021 campaign, the players learned three of their teammates had been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. A fourth teenager – the brother of one of the players – was also involved in the collision.

The early morning collision was a head-on crash between a sedan and a pickup truck near the intersection of Windsor-Perrineville and Cedarville roads in East Windsor.

Jordan Duffy and brothers Matthew Eurich and Celso Eurich were the three soccer players who were in the sedan, along with Jordan Duffy’s younger brother, Charlie.

First-year Allentown coach Shamus Matthews said the incident has been difficult for the soccer program to deal with, but he commended his players for how well they have handled the crisis.

“It’s very beautiful to see,” Matthews said. “The (players on the team) are strong young men. They love those guys (who were injured). They miss them like crazy. Every touch and every play means everything to them for those guys.”

On Sept. 30, in a match against Trenton Central High School, the Redbirds won for the first time since their teammates were injured.

Playing at home, Allentown (2-5) notched a 4-2 victory over the Tornadoes. The players competed hard throughout the match for their teammates and friends who were hurt and could not be on the field with them.

“Every time we come out to play we just try to play for the guys (who are hurt),” senior captain Steve Cardona said. “It hasn’t been in our favor the first couple of times, but we kept working to win one for the boys.”

Senior Manny Olorunnisola led the way for Allentown against Trenton by scoring his first two goals of the season. His goal in the sixth minute gave the Redbirds a 1-0 lead. He capped his performance in the 56th minute by knocking home a cross from Cardona for a 4-1 lead.

“It feels great to score my first two goals of the season,” Olorunnisola said. “I’m happy we got the win with everything going on. We have preserved through this time and will try to keep moving forward.”

Allentown took a 2-0 lead when sophomore Thomas Laurinaitis scored his second goal of the season in the 25th minute.

Trenton responded moments later on a goal by Alex Merino to cut the Redbirds’ lead to 2-1.

Allentown rebounded quickly and scored in the 31st minute. After receiving a perfect pass from Danny Doran, sophomore Cade Maglione darted up the sideline. When he saw Trenton’s goalkeeper come out just a bit, Maglione blasted a shot over the goalie’s head and into the net to give Allentown a 3-1 lead at halftime.

Maglione also had an assist against the Tornadoes. Through seven games he has three goals and two assists. Cardona leads Allentown with five assists through seven matches.

Trenton scored in the 77th minute to make it 4-2, but could not get any closer.

“We have been getting closer and closer in the last 10 days,” Maglione said. “It felt great to come out on the field and play our game and get a win.”

Matthews said he knows the past two weeks have been a difficult transition for his players as they are trying to come to grips with the accident and trying to find the strength to get back on the field to play.

The coach did not provide any updates on the young men who were injured.

Speaking about his own past tragedies that include his mother passing away from cancer several years ago, Matthews said he has tried to help his players process the situation and to be a person they can come to for support.

The coach said said he believes his players have the ability to overcome the adversity that has come their way and to honor their teammates by doing the best they can on the field.

“We are a good young team. Overcoming adversity is difficult, but I think these guys can handle it,” Matthews said.

Allentown will host Hightstown High School on Oct. 5.