Not many Shore Conference Tournament semifinals in boys soccer through the 35-year history of the tournament have featured four teams as good as the 2018 semifinalists.

Top-seeded Holmdel entered the tournament undefeated coming off a dominant run in 2017, traditionally-strong Christian Brothers Academy was 14-3 heading into the semis with the conference's toughest schedule and Jackson Memorial was a 13-1 juggernaut with the second-best goal differential in the conference behind Holmdel.

Man for man, Ocean stacked up with those three teams but the Spartans entered the semifinals without a standout result on its resume and hoping that the best was still yet to come.

Just as planned, the Spartans best was yet to come and it came at the perfect time.

Ocean shocked top-seed Holmdel on penalty kicks after a classic 2-2 game, then stunned CBA with a 93rd-minute golden goal by Leo Montesinos to win the Shore Conference Tournament as the No. 4 seed in the most dramatic of fashions.

With its run through the tournament and wins over two of the state's best in the last two games, Ocean was the runaway choice as the Week 6 Circle Chevy Boys Soccer Team of the Week.

What made Ocean's triumph over Holmdel even sweeter was just how ugly its outing against Holmdel was in last year's SCT championship game. Holmdel won its first ever SCT title in 2017 by routing Ocean, 7-1, on Ocean's home field.

This year, however, Ocean got its revenge thanks to two goals within a span of three minutes by Santieno Harding and James Schutz, which turned what seemed to be a comfortable 1-0 Holmdel lead into an upset-in-the making midway through the second half.

Holmdel would tie the game on a penalty kick, but the remaining good fortune on penalty kicks belonged to goalkeeper Max Winters and the Spartans. Winters stopped two shots in the round of penalties, including one by reigning Shore Sports Network Player of the Year and Monmouth University commit Anthony Arena. Arena converted the equalizing Holmdel penalty kick in the 74th minute.

As much as the Holmdel win was a validation for the senior-heavy Spartans, they were just getting started. Ocean battled CBA to overtime without allowing a goal and with CBA dominating possession and the shot count, it appeared the best Ocean could hope for was a tie and a co-championship to be shared with the Colts.

The Spartans would have none of that. Harding took on two defenders to earn a throw-in near the CBA goal early in the second overtime to set up the memorable finish. Senior Luke Yates uncorked a throw toward the front post, senior defender Brent Gaber pushed up and flicked a header back toward the far post and Montesinos - a transfer from Shore Regional - skied in for the header that won the Ocean its fifth ever SCT title and first since 2012.

Ocean will try to keep its roll going in the upcoming NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Tournament, in which the Spartans are seeded No. 2. Ocean last won the section in 2015 and lost in last year's sectional final to Toms River South.

 

2018 Team of the Week Award Winners

Week 1: Long Branch

Week 2: Manasquan

Week 3: Middletown South

Week 4: Southern

Week 5: Colts Neck

 

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