MIDDLETOWN - It took more than almost four hours of time on the game clock, but the Christian Brothers Academy soccer team finally scored a goal against Manalapan and for the players who have been working toward winning a championship during their time with the Colts, it was well worth the wait.

Junior Matt Thorsheim headed in the lone goal of the game in the 70th minute and CBA - the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament - edged Shore Conference Class A North division rival and No. 7 Manalapan, 1-0, to advance to the SCT semifinals for the first time in four years.

"We came into this year wanting to win a championship and it feels good to know we're a little bit closer," Thorsheim said. "We thought we were good enough to win it in the last two years but we had some bad losses, either because we didn't play like we're capable or because the other team played really well and it just didn't happen. This year, we worked so hard and twice against this team, we couldn't pull it out. They're a great team and they always put up a fight."

Teammates mob Matt Thorsheim after his goal gave CBA the lead against Manalapan in the 70th minute on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

The shutout was the 13th of the season for junior goalkeeper Aedan Boriotti and the CBA defense, one short of a school record in a single season. The Colts have surrendered two goals in their last 16 games and both were to Manalapan in two separate 1-0 losses.

CBA again could not crack the Manalapan defense, led by senior center back Mike McNicholas, over the first 69 minutes, but the 70th minute was the breaking point for Manalapan's previously CBA-proof defense.

"They play really organized," Thorsheim said. "Every time we try to find a forward, they'll have a man on his back to keep him from turning. Every time we touch the ball in the midfield, there is someone there right away."

The play started with a tackle by CBA center fullback Tom Lozowski with Manalapan on the attack, which won the ball for the Colts and started the action moving in the opposite direction. Junior Aaron Robertson played a combination with Thorsheim and Thorsheim ended up with an opening for a shot, but he stumbled as he took his swing.

The ball ended up on the right side with CBA junior Matt Mawson, who took the ball to the right side and created enough space on the perimeter of the 18-yard box to serve a solid cross to the back post. By then, Thorsheim recovered, positioned himself on the far left post and pounded a header to the upper near corner of the goal.

The goal ended a scoreless drought of 229 minutes and 29 seconds for CBA against Manalapan this season.

"I noticed that they were man-marking me and when Ryan (Nigro) would get the ball, the man guarding me wouldn't follow him, so I just tried to stay away from him to give him space," Thorsheim said. "If the defense is going to try to get the ball off my feet, I'm perfectly fine giving it up and letting other guys make plays. I just keep working hard and try to find an opportunity like I did today."

Although it took CBA nearly 70 minutes to finish a goal, the Colts started to test Manalapan sophomore goalkeeper Ethan Shalom in the second half after firing just one shot on goal during the entire first half. Shalom saved seven shots, all of which came before the goal in the 70th minute.

CBA put Manalapan on its heels in the first five minutes of the game, including a shot on target by senior Nick Meyer that Shalom was in position to stop. After staving off that early Colts flurry, Manalapan settled in and played CBA even in a defensive, possession-heavy first half.

"The intensity was up today and it's been that way for all the tournament games," Manalapan coach John Natoli said. "It seems like something has to be on the line for us to play intense, but the kids showed up today."

CBA's defense also did the job against Manalapan, which beat CBA for a goal in each meeting thanks to senior outside midfielder Ayush Mittal. Mittal did not score against CBA, but he assisted goals by seniors Mitchel Volis and Pio Schiano-Lamoriello by using his speed to beat the CBA defense to the ball in the first meeting and around the corner in the second.

"We've worked on our defense to get ready for the postseason and we knew Ayush had speed," Lozowski said. "We made sure out midfielders were always pressing the ball so they couldn't play him in and always kept an eye on him. We really didn't want him to beat us."

The Colts adjusted Tuesday by playing junior Tom Judge at one of the outside fullback spots, opposite senior Tim Mikulski while Lozowski and Misson manned the middle.

"Tom Judge moved back and that made a big difference because of his speed," Lozowski said.

CBA has not been to the SCT semifinals since winning the tournament in 2011, when the Colts finished the season 21-0. They will play No. 6 Toms River South on Thursday on Memorial Field at Summerfield Elementary School in Neptune at 5 p.m., the front end of a double-header that will be followed by No. 1 Shore taking on No. 4 Ocean.

"We're really looking forward to it," Lozowski said. "In the preseasn, our goal was to win every championship. We already won A North, now we're two wins away from winning the Shore. It's a great opportunity and we're going to try to make the most of it."

 

Box Score

CBA 1, Manalapan 0

1 2 F
Manalpaan (10-5-2) 0 0 0
CBA (14-3-1) 0 1 1

Goal (Assist): Matt Thorsheim (Matt Mawson)
Shots: CBA, 12-6
Saves: (M) Ethan Shalom 7; (CBA) Aedan Boriotti