Girls Soccer – Colts Neck Falls to Hunterdon Central
The Colts Neck girls soccer program could still be in the middle of a long run of success, but Wednesday may be remembered as the last day of a golden era in the Cougars history and certainly the end of one of the great Shore Conference soccer careers.
Hunterdon Central - the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament - beat the No. 5 Cougars, 4-1, in the sectional semifinals to end Colts Neck's pursuit of a second consecutive group championship.
The loss also ends the career of Frankie Tagliaferri, who finished her four-year run as Colts Neck's all-time leading scorer and with a reputation as one of the top girls soccer players in the history of the Shore Conference. She will graduate from Colts Neck with 81 goals and 41 assists - all while missing time over the course of her career due to U.S. Soccer commitments.
This season, Tagliaferri scored 22 goals in 10 games and assisted 10 others. She did not play her first high school game of 2016 until Oct. 13 and missed most of the regular season while playing for the U.S. national team in the U-17 World Cup in Jordan.
Hunterdon Central (18-1-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead before halftime and buried Colts Neck (15-3-1) in a 3-0 hole late in the second half. Sophomore Kristi Mikula momentarily gave the Cougars a glimmer of hope with a goal that cut the deficit to 3-1, but Luciana Zullo capped the win with a goal in the final two minutes.
Hunterdon Central is now on a 19-game unbeaten streak since losing the opener against Ridge and has won 14 consecutive games.
Colts Neck is coming off a 2015 season in which it finished No. 1 in N.J. - capping a 24-0-1 season by winning the Group III final against a Northern Highlands team that entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Cougars won the Shore Conference Tournament for the second consecutive season on Oct. 29 and reached the championship game each of the last three years. They lost the 2014 final against Wall while Tagliaferri was training with the national team in Florida.