NEPTUNE - One might think that while playing in a program that expects to win championships in each and every season, the Christian Brothers Academy players would be obsessed with the opportunity to win their first Shore Conference Tournament title as a group.

Instead of simply relishing the chance to win their first conference title, they have their hearts set on getting their head coach his ninth.

CBA, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, fought off a game No. 6 Toms River South side to win 2-1 and advance to the Shore Conference Tournament championship game in head coach Dan Keane's final season of his 38-year tenure as head coach. The Colts will take on No. 4 Ocean Saturday, 5 p.m. at Memorial Athletic Complex, where they will look to win Keane his ninth Shore Conference Tournament championship.

Patrick Kollman (left) and CBA finally broke through against Mike Tapp (right) and the Toms River Suth defense and held on for an SCT semifinal win. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"High school soccer, especially in the tournaments, is all about emotion," CBA senior Nick Meyer said. "It's not always the best team that wins. It's the team that wants it more. We've been able to channel our emotions on the field, especially since we're trying to win one for coach Keane."

"It's been almost surreal," Keane said. "I'm very happy that this group of kids has played very well. They haven't made a big deal of the fact that this is it for me. I even told them, 'Guys, this is your time. My time has passed. Just go out and worry about you.'"

Before securing a spot in the SCT final for the 10th time, CBA had to survive a Toms River South squad that rode into Neptune Thursday on an 11-game winning streak - the most recent of which was a quarterfinal win over defending SCT champion Freehold Township on the road.

Following a scoreless first half, CBA struck first in the 57th minute off a direct kick set up by a trip of junior midfielder Matt Thorsheim by a Toms River South defender. On the direct kick, junior Ryan Nigro ripped a shot on goal that Indians junior goalkeeper Dom Pizzi saved with a diving stop, but CBA junior Patrick Kollman was the first player to the rebound and he tapped it in for his fourth goal of the tournament.

The Indians answered back nine minutes later when junior Tyler Egnatuk played the ball through to senior Cameron Geerinck, who timed his run past the CBA back line and skidded a shot to the opposite left corner of the goal from the right side of the penalty box.

"We were all high-fiving and Kollman said, 'We can't let up, we have to keep it up,'" Meyer said. "(Geerinck) makes a great shot to make it 1-1, but we said again that we can't let down and we have to keep pushing."

The equalizer held up for less than three minutes as the Colts broke the tie with an own goal in the 69th. Meyer beat a defender toward the end-line on the left side and sent in a rolling cross that ricocheted off a Toms River South defender and into the goal.

"The ball got played to me out wide and I got around the defender," Meyer said. "I played a cross and unfortunately for the defender it hit off of him and ended up in the goal."

Toms River South's chances took another hit in the 74th when senior defender Mike Tapp picked up his second yellow card and was sent off, leaving the Indians a man short for the rest of the game. Despite the disadvantage, the Indians had one more chance to tie the game in the 76th when Geerinck broke free on the right side, but his shot from a tight angle rolled wide of the far left post.

Each team missed out on a scoring chance in the first half. Toms River South nearly knocked in a Matt Thorsheim cross in the sixth minute, but it rolled just outside the left post.

Geerinck got his first scoring opportunity in the 32nd when CBA goalkeeper Aedan Boriotti came off his line and Geerinck dribbled past him and into a wide-open shot from the six-yard box with a defender at his hip. Geerinck got the shot off toward the exposed net, but junior defender Scott Misson threw his body in front of the ball and it carried over the crossbar.

"There was an area in their defense we felt we could attack and once we settled down and found some maroon shirts, we started to get him the ball a little bit more," Toms River South coach Ron Laycock said.

CBA's trip to the final is the first by a CBA team since the 21-0 2011 team rolled to a second straight title. Since then, CBA missed the SCT in 2012 and lost on its home field in the round of 16 in each of the past two years. The Colts beat Toms River North and Manalapan to get back to Neptune for the first time in four years.

Although CBA and Ocean are the top two leaders in SCT final appearances, the two have never met in an SCT final. While CBA will look for its eighth win in 10 trips, Ocean will shoot for its fifth title in eight trips.

"We try to talk about the history of the program at times, but for the most part, they have to be emotional for the match," Keane said. "High school soccer, a lot of times, is about the emotional edge. I thought we had the emotional edged when we went against Manalapan and Toms River South maybe came in as a possible underdog and that gave them an edge, and that emotion is big in high school soccer."

 

Box Score

CBA 2, Toms River South 0

1 2 F
Toms River South (16-3) 0 1 1
CBA (15-3-1) 0 2 2

Goals (Assists): (TRS) Cameron Geerinck (Tyler Egnatuk) 66’; (CBA) Patrick Kollman (Ryan Nigro) 57’, Own goal 69’
Shots: CBA, 16-7
Saves: (TRS) Dom Pizzi 6; (CBA) Aedan Boriotti 1