Daniel Donovan is enjoying the view from the top this season.
That's because Donovan and the rest of the Hammonton High School boys soccer team know how things look from the bottom.
One year after finishing last in Cape-Atlantic League American Conference Division II, the Blue Devils are 5-0 in the division and 7-2-1 overall.
"The whole atmosphere completely changed from last year," Donovan, 17, of Hammonton, said Monday night "Pretty much everyone on the team has stepped up. Everyone took the initiative and is leaving everything on the field."
Hammonton was 1-6-1 in the division last year and 4-14-2 overall.
Fast forward to this year and the Blue Devils are serious contenders in the division and conference races.
"Everyone is being aggressive," Donovan said. "Everyone is goal-hungry and not the kind of goal-hungry that makes them selfish. It's the kind of goal-hungry that makes them want to score for the team."
Justin Grant and Jeff Auleta each scored Monday in a 2-0 win against Millville as the Blue Devils ran their unbeaten streak to five games.
The Blue Devils are 4-0-1 during the stretch, including a 2-0 win against defending division champion Ocean City and a 0-0 draw with defending conference champion Egg Harbor Township.
Andrew Slater stopped five shots for his fourth straight shutout and sixth overall this season. Slater hasn't allowed a goal since a 4-2 win against Mainland on Sept. 20.
"We're playing unselfish soccer," Hammonton coach David Thompson said. "Last year was definitely a learning curve for us. It was a big transition year for us, so we're really excited.
"I told them not to forget about last year but to remember it and do what we didn't do last year, which was score."
Hammonton scored only 24 goals last season while allowing 31. The Blue Devils already have 20 this season with only 11 goals against.
Shane Guyer (six goals), Justin Grant (five) and three-year varsity starter Jim Lamp'l give the team a dangerous trio up front.
Dolton Rudolph has been strong in the midfield. Donovan, fellow captain Mike Lupinetti and stopped Dave Donio-Enscoe have been consistent in the backfield.
"Our whole starting lineup has been playing together since we were little," Donovan said. "We have that chemistry as a team. Coming from club ball together and transitioning to high school makes the perfect high school squad."
Bridgeton forfeits two
Coach Tom Masucci and the Bridgeton High School boys team found out this past week they would have to forfeit two wins from earlier this season due to the use of an ineligible player.
Bridgeton won 2-1 against Ocean City on Sept. 7 and 2-1 against Millville on Sept. 12. The win against Ocean City was the first in school history for the Bulldogs.
"It was an oversight," Bridgeton coach Tom Masucci said. "It was just an innocent mistake. We were not aware, but as soon as it was brought to our attention (after the Millville game) we followed procedure."
Bridgeton's record now stands at 1-5.
"As far as the kids, that's the thing that breaks my heart," Masucci said. "But (the ruling) does not take away from their performance. It does not take away from their pride and it doesn't take away from the fact that they are the most beautiful group of kids I have ever worked with."
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