Following an overtime loss to Freehold Boro on Oct. 1, the Colts Neck boys soccer team was 2-5 with four losses by one goal to Shore Conference Tournament qualifying teams and another 3-0 loss at the hands of undefeated Holmdel.

The Cougars' postseason prospects looked grim, but the schedule was about to turn in Colts Neck's favor.

Then, Colts Neck's bad fortune on the soccer field became a pittance when the players learned of the death of recent Colts Neck graduate Cory Aufiero. Armed with new perspective and motivation, the Cougars turned in their best effort of the season in a 4-0 win over Wall one day after the majority of the team attended Aufiero's funeral.

The following week, needing two wins to qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament, Colts Neck beat both Middletown South and Middletown North to secure a spot in the tournament and with it, the Circle Chevy Team of the Week Award for Week 5.

The 2-0 win over Middletown South knocked the Eagles out of the tournament and the second win cooled off a Lions team that had just snapped an eight-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over Howell and Matawan.

Once in the tournament, Colts Neck made the most of the opportunity as the No. 23 seed by knocking off No. 10 Pinelands on the road, 3-2, in the opening round of the tournament on a golden goal by senior Ethan Kilmnick . The Cougars nearly did it again in round two, but No. 7 Manalapan scored late to win a thrilling, 3-2 match.

Senior Brooks Condon was Colts Neck's golden boot during the run, scoring a goal each in the wins over Wall, Middletown South, Middletown North and Pinelands, as well as one in the loss at Manalapan.

Colts Neck will try to continue its second-half surge as the No. 5 seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Playoffs, which begin on Monday, Oct. 29.


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