MARLBORO - The Colts Neck boys soccer team went into the Shore Conference Tournament coming off two forgettable results but Monday's opening-round game against 25th-seeded Manchester was a chance to refocus and start another postseason run.

Junior Derek Haaf helped set up goal by junior Jake Gershon in the first half and assisted another by junior Kyle Koenig in the second to help lead the No. 8 Cougars past the Hawks, 2-0, and into the SCT round of 16.

Colts Neck junior Derek Haaf. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Colts Neck junior Derek Haaf. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Colts Neck knows how dangerous teams seeded in the 20's can be after winning in the first round as a No. 23 seed at No. 10 Pinelands last year. The Cougars also reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship with their senior-heavy team.

Despite losing 18 seniors from last year, this Colts Neck team is now 10 games deep into what has been a strong season that took a wrong turn last week. The Cougars tied Red Bank 1-1 and then dropped a 3-0 game at home vs. Wall to give up the lead in the Class B North standings.

Monday was a chance to get back on track in time for the postseason and Colts Neck got right to work. The Cougars came out firing and broke through early on when Haaf slipped the ball into the box in the 13th minute to sophomore David Tuschmann, who left it off for Gershon for an eight-yard finish.

After knocking on the door over the next 50 minutes, Colts Neck got back on the board in the 63rd. Haaf served up a free kick to the middle of the six-yard box and Koenig one-timed it in for an insurance goal.

Senior goalkeeper Dylan Jacobs needed just two saves to secure the shutout while Manchester senior goalkeeper Rich Mariotti saved 12 shots to help Manchester stay within a goal the first 60-plus minutes.

Colts Neck will host the winner of Tuesday match between No. 24 Lacey and No. 9 Long Branch.


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