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MIDDLETOWN -- Christian Brothers Academy senior Jack D'Eletto is confident that the crosses he plays into the middle of the 18-yard box after routinely beating defenses up the right flank will start turning into goals for the Colts.

In the meantime, he is taking a two-part approach. Part one: he is remaining patient and committed to CBA's group of players attempting to replace Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Dylan Cupo.

Part two: D'Eletto is looking for some chances to finish the goals himself.

Facing defending Group II champion Delran Friday at Dan Keane Field, D'Eletto tormented the Bears throughout the match and created a pair of goals in the second half to lead CBA -- ranked No. 1 in the SSN Top 10 -- to a 2-0 win.

"It was really nice," D'Eletto said. "I haven't gotten on the score sheet this year. I had chances to and I was a little disappointed in myself, but to finally get one today gives me confidence and gives the team confidence."

"There comes a point in time with certain players, there is an expectation from the entire group," CBA coach Tom Mulligan said. "(D'Eletto) is a three-year varsity player for us now, so today was his day. I'm happy for Jack, I know the rest of the kids were happy for him and I'm hoping this momentum will carry over into the next match and for the rest of the season."

Delran bombarded CBA with four corner kicks in the first five minutes of the match, but CBA's defense got organized, fought off the threat and allowed the Colts to get into their flow. From there, CBA dominated play, with D'Eletto and fellow returning senior winger Will Thygeson putting excessive pressure on the outside of Delran defense.

That pressure from D'Eletto and Thygeson did not produce a first-half goal, though it nearly did on two occasions. D'Eletto gashed the Bears back line and hit Thygeson on the left side of the 18-yard box. Thygeson skipped a shot toward the far right post and sophomore Dylan Millevoi slammed it into the goal in the fifth minute. Millevoi, however, was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed.

"Last year, we had a six-(foot)-three, All-American striker," D'Eletto said, referring to Cupo and his 21 goals a year ago. "We would get down the sides, which is what we're best at, cross it in and that led to a lot of goals. Early in the season,  we've been doing the same thing and Millevoi is a great finisher, as are all of our attacking center midfielders, but it's different because we're smaller. We can't just drop balls in anywhere; it's more of a finesse game now."

In the 25th, Delran goalkeeper Erik Braga made a double-save near the left post to once again delay CBA's first goal of the game.

"First half, we did miss some opportunities that I wished we had capitalized on," D'Eletto said. "But it was coming. We were attacking the entire time. Once the goal went in, I think it raised everyone's spirits."

That first Colts goal finally came in the ninth minute of the second half. Senior Charlie Paparella took the ball off a restart and sent it up to D'Eletto. The senior beat a defender and fired a shot inside the near right post for the game's first goal.

CBA's defense kept Delran quiet the rest of the way while the Colts remained on the attack. In the 74th minute D'Eletto won the ball on the left side of the field and continued toward the left corner and beat a pair of defenders. This time, he played a low cross toward the front of top of the 18-yard box and after a dummy by Millevoi, junior Dimitry Corba took one touch and buried a shot to the lower left corner of the goal.

At the final whistle, CBA had outshot Delran, 13-2, including a run of 13 unanswered shots.

"I think our team is still trying to find our way early in the season," Mulligan said. "They don't quite have all of their roles and a group identity collectively just yet. I think these early-season tests -- Delran and LaSalle and Gill St. Bernard's on Sunday before we jump into the A North schedule -- this will help set a tone for us moving forward."

With only two shots, Delran was unable to spring its 30-goal scorer, junior Drew Roskos, who put up 33 goals as a sophomore in 2021 and entered Friday with two so far in 2022. Papardella drew the assignment of shadowing Roskos on Friday.

"It was really fun to watch our number three defend their number three," said Mulligan, referencing the jersey numbers of both Roskos and Paparella. "I think our number three, Charlie Paparella, really stepped up and proved to a lot of people that he's a pretty good player too.

"We told the guys on the team to really be aware of where (Roskos) is on the field, but we didn't attempt to mark him out of the game. Once it was 1-0 later in the game, though, I said, 'Charlie, stay with him.' We know how dangerous he is."

CBA's performance in its fourth game of the season was the closest the team has resembled the squad that went 20-2 in 2021. The Colts opened the season with a 1-0, overtime loss to Marlboro -- its first loss to a Shore Conference opponent since Oct. 2019 -- and bounced back with wins over LaSalle College Prep of Pa. and Middletown South.

"We got off to a rough start losing to Marlboro and even though we won against LaSalle and Middletown South, I don't think we found our groove yet," D'Eletto said. "Like Will (Thygeson) just said, today was the day. We played really tough competition and played amazing."

Although CBA did not lose to any Shore Conference teams last season, the Colts won several close games during the early part of the year before dominating the Shore Conference Tournament.

"Everything is so different from year-to-year and that's what makes it so interesting -- putting the pieces of the puzzle together for CBA," Mulligan said. "Come October is when we have to have all this sorted out, not September. The season is not a straight hill; we're going to go up and down, have good games and bad games. Sometimes you win the bad games and sometimes you outplay a team and don't get the result. We just want to challenge them and hopefully figure it all out by the time we get to late October."


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