Silvio Aparicio of Hamilton West works a pass against Trenton. Aparicio leads the team with four goals on the year. Photo by Michael A. Sabo.
By Rich Fisher
Oct. 10: It has been a rough decade for the Hamilton West boys soccer team, but as the 2000-teens start to wind down, things finally appear to be looking up.
With their 5-3 win over Trenton Tuesday, the Hornets (5-6-1) reached the five-victory mark for just the third time since 2010. The other two years were 2012 and 2016, but Hamilton was never this close to .500 so late in the season.
West has two tough regular-season games remaining with West Windsor-Plainsboro North and Allentown, plus at least one Mercer County Tournament and one state tournament game remaining in the quest to win six for the first time since 2009. Hamilton was 13th in Central Jersey Group III in power points as of Monday, not counting the Trenton win. The WWPN game also counts toward power points.
The bottom line is, it’s fun to watch Hamilton soccer again.
“It feels like a brand new team,” said coach Chris “C Mo” Morales, now in his fourth season. “We talked about it in August. We went in the classroom and we talked about, sort of the feeling of the team, and this is the first year we really feel like a family.
“We’re really connecting off the field as much as on the field and it shows on the field. The guys are getting together a lot after school when we’re not training, that kind of thing. You can see it in practices, feel it in the lockerroom and see it in our games.”
For a while it looked like more of the same. Hamilton started 2-0 for the third straight year before going winless (0-4-1) in its next five. Since then, the Hornets have won three of five and suffered one- and two-goal losses to Princeton to Steinert.
“We’re keeping every single game close,” Morales said. “There’s quite a few games that got away from us that could have easily went in our favor.”
Hamilton’s offense has come from various sources. Silvio Aparicio, a senior captain along with goalie Giuseppe Scordato, leads the team with four goals while Gerardo Perez has three goals and four assists and Roberto Recinos has three goals and three assists. Emil Lewandowski also has three goals, while Mike Morano and Matt Paterno have one each. Keith Johnson has chipped in with three assists, Daniel Cua has two and Ian Cabrera. Scordato has been solid in goal.
Aparicio, who scored twice against Trenton, agrees with his coach that better chemistry has made a big difference.
“Most of the times we’ve had internal conflicts that we always have to resolve to pull through,” the center-midfielder said. “We’ve resolved all of them and that’s why we have a better record, because we’re together as a family. We play better once we’re all on the same page. We gotta trust one another, trust coach and everybody else. This year, it definitely has been more fun.”
According to C Mo, Aparicio and Giuseppe are a big reason why that trust has developed.
“Those two guys are doing a great job of kind of harnessing everyone and bringing people together,” Morales said. “We did a lot of off-season workouts, they had an opportunity to bond in the weight room as well. A lot of the leadership came right from the captains.”
Aparicio feels the Hornets may finally have a team that can go a few rounds in the counties and states as long as they have faith in themselves.
“We definitely can,” he said. “We have to play our hardest, play with our hearts, stay as a team, stay committed to the sport and pull through.”
Morales considered the win over Trenton to be a big one, considering the players on each team know each other so well. The Hornets also had their biggest scoring outburst of the year, and the coach hopes that momentum can carry through in some tough upcoming games.
“Our goal at beginning of the year was to go .500,” he said. “We’re one game shy of that right now before the state tournament seeding. So I would say we’re right on track.”