Kene Eze's three first half goals power Jersey Express to 5-0 victory over NJ LUSO Parma
The Jersey Express scored five times in the opening half as it soundly defeating NJ LUSO Parm

NEWARK - When Kene Eze's shot in the sixth minute found the bottom-left corner of the net, he didn't just give the Jersey Express an early lead, he also found the confidence boost he desperately needed.


"It's been very frustrating.  I kind of let it get to me a little bit. I was thinking about it too much," said Eze, who had gone scoreless the previous six matches. "I think I was trying too hard. Today I just wanted the game to come to me and luckily my teammates found me in a better position to score.


"It's a big weight (off my shoulders). I think after the first goal it made the goal look that much bigger. I was waiting to score the first goal and that made everything much easier."


After scoring his first goal of the season, it didn't take long for the Eze to find the back the net again and again, showing why he's one of the league's most talented strikers. Led by Eze's three goals in 35 minutes, the Jersey Express scored five times in the opening half as it soundly defeating NJ LUSO Parma, 5-0, Tuesday night at NJIT's Lubetkin Field.


With the victory, the Jersey Express (8-1-2) move into sole possession of first place in the PDL Mid-Atlantic Division with three games remaining in the regular season.


"He's a very talented guy and he's just been trying to get back into it fitness wise," said Jersey Express head coach Jeff Matteo. "Today, his pace and quality really showed."


Eze, who was selected by Toronto FC in the fourth round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft  after a stellar career at Rutgers, has been trying to work his way back from a series of injuries this year. The Sayreville native said he's as healthy as he's been in a while and it showed early on.


After breaking through with a goal in the sixth minute, Eze took a Christopher Karcz pass down the left wing and then sent a blast into the far-top corner to make it 2-0 just 11 minutes into the contest.


"Scoring early was key," Eze said. "We told ourselves, we'll come out hard, pressure them, score a couple of goals and keep the level high. It made everyone work that much harder."


The Jersey Express kept applying the pressure as Karcz scored a goal in the 15th minute and Walter Hines scored in the 28th minute. Eze capped off the offensive barrage in the 35th minute with a breakaway goal off a long pass from teammate Andrew Tinari.


"I thought we did real well the first 40 minutes, putting pressure on them, putting them into bad situations," Mateo said. "A lot of the goals came off of us having a good defensive shape and they turned into real good chances. We did a great job of punishing them."


Tinari finished with two assists while Karcz and Hines each had a goal and an assist for the Jersey Express, which outshot NJ LUSO Parma, 10-3. Matthew Turner earned his second shutout of the season, making three saves, all of them coming in the second half.


NJ LUSO Parma goalkeeper Ryan Baird made three saves in defeat.


The Jersey Express looks to maintain its lead in the division race as it travels to Brooklyn, N.Y. on Sunday for an 8:30 p.m. match at F.A. Euro. The Jersey Express then close out the regular season with home games on Wednesday, July 16 against Baltimore at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, July 19 against Long Island at 7 p.m.

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