When Dan Keane decided to return to coaching following the 2011 season, he knew he was passing up a chance to go out on the highest of notes. Ultimately, though, he still wanted to coach and while the lore of retiring after a 21-0 season would be too much for some at that stage of a coaching career, Keane thought he had one more year to give.

Then, CBA endured the worst season of Keane’s career in 2012 and the veteran coach would discover that while he didn’t need to go out on a high note, he also didn’t want to go out on a low one.

When Keane decided that the 2015 season would indeed be the last in his accomplished coaching career, it was without regard to a storybook ending or a disappointing departure.

Photo by Larry Murphy, Sportspixnj.smugmug.com

"It's age, it's mobility, a the awareness that someone younger and someone with a little more ability as far as taking the program to the next level with this particular team deserves a chance," Keane said, citing reasons for deciding to call it a career. "I think it would almost be an injustice to hang around longer than I can. It was time.”

When Keane’s final game on the sidelines ended in defeat against Delbarton, there was no second thought on the coach’s part and there was little reason for one. While the season ended with a loss to four-time NJSIAA Non-Public A champion, Keane’s final season at CBA was a smashing success.

The Colts finished 2015 with 19-4-1 record that included a Shore Conference Class A North division championship, a Shore Conference Tournament title and the NJSIAA Non-Public A South championship. The Shore Conference title was the ninth of Keane’s career and the trip to the Non-Public A final was the 15th for CBA under Keane.

"It was a great season," Keane said. "A 19-4-1 record, three titles and I thought Delbarton was the best team and they played their best game against us.”

It took Keane 14 seasons to win his first state title, but it took him almost no time at all to reach the state final – something he did in almost 40 percent of his seasons. The Colts reached their first Non-Public A championship game in 1979, Keane’s second season, and went on to become a mainstay in the statewide soccer picture.

While CBA was a successful state tournament team under Keane, it was dominant in the Shore Conference. In the 32-year history of the Shore Conference Tournament, CBA has been in the final 10 times and won the championship eight times. The Colts also won an SCT co-title, sharing the championship with Jackson Memorial in 1988.

CBA twice finished the season undefeated under Keane. The 1998 team finished the year 20-0-2 in winning the second of its five state titles and the 2011 squad went a perfect 21-0. The 2011 team capped its perfect season by beating Delbarton in overtime, 1-0 – a win over a program that went on to win the next four state championships, including this past year.

Coach Dan Keane (second from right) with seniors Nick Meyer (10), Tom Lozowski (33) and Tim Mikulski (6), as well as assistant coach Jeff Matson. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Keane walks away from the sport with a career record of 545-157-41 that included those 14 tournament championship banners and an endless wave of Division I players that the program helped produce.

While all of those wins go to Keane’s credit, assistant coach Jeff Matson has been an integral part of the day-to-day function of the CBA team since he joined Keane’s staff in 1994. After previously serving as head coach at Red Bank Catholic and Red Bank Regional, Matson has already assumed most of the coaching responsibilities and figures to be the early favorite to officially take over the program next year.

If there is one thing that could tempt Keane to unretired, it is the group of eight junior starters that is due to return in as seniors in 2016. Although CBA will go into next year in search of finishing off a state championship, Keane is adamant that his role in the run will be as a fan.

"This is a great junior class that has a great chance to be back (in the final) next year," Keane said. "If they do get there, I'll be cheering them on from the stands and hopefully they win."