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Strong defense leads Trojans over Eagles

Return of injured Zmijewski helps Nanticoke to its fifth shutout of the season.

PITTSTON – Defense has been Nanticoke Area’s strength this season.

Entering Tuesday’s Wyoming Valley Conference Division II game with Seton Catholic, the Trojans had four shutouts to its credit, while only allowing seven goals.

The Trojans held the Eagles to just three shots on goal in the first half en route to a dominating defensive performance to pick up a 4-0 win at Albert West Park.

The Nanticoke defense was led by Jason Zmijewski, who helped keep Seton out of Nanticoke territory. In his last game on Sept. 27, the sophomore was in a head-on-head collision with a GAR forward and received stitches to close a laceration on his forehead. The stitches were removed earlier in the week and he was glad to be playing on Tuesday.

“It feels good to be playing now,” the defender said. “I get little headaches but that’s it…. Dan Olzinski and Robert Bertoni help me out and we just stay back unless we need to attack and it worked out for us (Tuesday).”

While the Trojan defense has been unstoppable lately, the offense has struggled by only scoring one goal in its last three games. But time after time, Nanticoke (7-2) beat the Eagles to the ball. Kris Moran scored the game’s first two goals. The first one was only three minutes into the contest. The second one was scored with less than three minutes left in the first half off an assist from Keith Moran. Matt Kruczek scored a pair of second half goals. All four goals were scored inside the 18-yard line.

“I didn’t know what to expect because our offense only scored one goal in the last three games and we had to figure things out,” Nanticoke coach Mark Matusek said. “I was hoping to get Kris involved and when Matt scored, he just picked up balls by the net. You have to do that around the goal area.”

The Eagles (4-5) had a few opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. Midway through the first half, the team’s leading scorer, Matt Wisniewski (11 goals), headed a shot but missed the net inches to the left.

“We played very well in the first half and if we put in the chances that we did have, it would have been a closer game,” Seton coach Douglas Lazecki said. “But Nanticoke is a well-coached team. They really move the ball well and their guys in the middle on defense are tough and really shut our guys down.”

The Eagles still have a shot to make the District 2 Class A tournament. If they don’t, however, the team will only lose two seniors to graduation as the program seems to be headed in the right direction.

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