HOLMDEL - Talent is the reason the Holmdel boys soccer team entered the season as the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and talent is a leading factor why the Hornets have started the 2017 season 4-0, effectively living up to the expectations as much as is possible in the games.

Those first four games, however, have been more than just wins. Holmdel has outscored its opposition 20-2 and have been coasting through the finish line in each game.

In Tuesday's 5-0 win over Matawan - the second win over the Huskies in the first eight days of Holmdel's season - junior forward Anthony Arena scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season and all eight have come over the last three games. With two goals in the first half, Arena had ample time to record his third consecutive hat trick, but he spent most of the second half on the bench while Hornets coach John Nacarlo gave some of his reserves a chance to score.

For Arena, it was all part of the long game and part of the reason his team has clicked so seamlessly early in the season.

"It's obviously good to come together as a team and have all this talent around you," Arena said. "But the chemistry is the most important thing, in my opinion."

The early-season chemistry the Hornets have shown is especially noteworthy considering how many of their prominent contributors were not on the team last year. Seniors Justin McStay, Cyrus Darvish and Matt Leon all opted to play for their academy teams last year in lieu of high school soccer and yet all three have jumped on board and contributed early one without disrupting the rapport that the returning players established last season.

In McStay's case, the transition has been an easy one because he already was a significant part of Holmdel's NJSIAA Group II runner-up team as a sophomore in 2015. That year, he led the team with eight goals while playing only about half the season as a forward after beginning it as a central defender.

Now back as a senior, McStay has notched four goals in four games, including one in Tuesday's win over the Huskies.

Darvish and Leon have also thrived with the high school team, which they left following their freshman seasons. Darvish has tallied two goals and four assists while Leon has contributed two goals and two assists.

"It's definitely a big help because having that caliber of a player, you get them the ball and they get you the ball," Arena said. "That's just how it works and when you have everybody going around you, it's just easier and a lot more fun too."

While Holmdel has had no trouble through four games, the schedule is due to pick up for the Hornets. On Monday night, they are set to host perennial Group IV contender Monroe under the lights, which will be followed by a key divisional game against Rumson-Fair Haven two days later.

"The most important thing is to stay focused," We have our captains to keep us in line if we're goofing off. That's the most important thing: staying focused and worrying about the next game."

 

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