MARLBORO This one was all about defense.
After an offensive outburst in the previous Class B North meeting, Wednesday’s girls soccer rematch between host No. 1 Colts Neck and visiting No. 4 Wall came down to plays on the defensive end of the field.
Colts Neck made more defensive plays to back junior forward Frankie Tagliaferri’s goal in the fifth minute and held on for a 1-0 victory over Wall.
“It was typical Colts Neck soccer. We built the ball up, and someone got their head up, and Frankie Tagliaferri made a good run on a through ball,” Colts Neck girls soccer coach Doug Phillips said. “Wall did a good job of cutting off through balls today and making it difficult for us. They know how we play, and they were able to minimize our attack, which is a dangerous one.”
And everyone in the state of New Jersey knows how dangerous Tagliaferri, who scored 29 goals in 2014, can be on a potential breakaway. The goal was Tagliaferri’s 13th of the season, while senior forward Bridgette King collected her fifth assist of the season on the game-winning play for the Cougars (8-0-1, 5-0-1), who are the Shore Conference’s only unbeaten team.
“Wall definitely made it a little bit more difficult to get shots on goal (this time),” Phillips said. “We had a lot of outside shots, but they (Wall) made it difficult to penetrate through and get through balls.”
Colts Neck outshot Wall, 11-4, in Wednesday’s game, and Wall junior goalie Alex Panasuk made 10 saves for the Crimson Knights (7-3, 5-2). Two of Wall’s three losses this season are to Colts Neck; the Cougars won the first meeting, 4-3, in overtime Sept. 10.
Meanwhile, Colts Neck sophomore goalie Lauren Feaster made four saves and has been a huge boost for the Cougars’ defense this season.
“She’s never played goalie before this season. She played a lot on the field last year as a defensive center midfielder off the bench as a freshman,” Phillips said. “She’s only a sophomore, and we kind of needed an athlete to step up and play goalie for us, and she’s doing very well.”
Three takeaways from Wednesday’s showdown between No. 1 Colts Neck and No. 4 Wall:
1. Managing the Frankie factor: Colts Neck junior forward Frankie Tagliaferri is the best player in the Shore Conference. So, your hope is to contain her because you aren’t going to completely stop her. She’s tall, fast and very skilled and was more than deserving of the 2014 Asbury Park Press Girls Soccer Player of the Year award. On Wednesday, she found one opening early in the game and capitalized on it for her 13th goal of the season. She’s on pace to surpass the 29 goals she scored in 2014. Wall double-teamed her as much as possible and, for the most part successfully, cut off the passing lanes for her to score or get her teammates opportunities.
2. You have to be good in goal against Colts Neck: If you are going to play toe-to-toe with Colts Neck this season, your goalie is going to have to bring her A-plus game against one of the best offenses in the state led by Tagliaferri. At one point in the second half, Tagliaferri broke free and fired a spinning rocket toward the goal that Wall’s Alex Panasuk (10 saves) caught with two hands. If she wasn’t an elite goalie, that shot probably goes in. But, having played against Colts Neck and Class B North competition over the past three years, Panasuk took the right angles to cut of shots and has plenty of experience against talented offensive players.
3. Division race implications: The Cougars have now played five of the six teams in their division once and haven’t lost to anyone this season. Their sixth and final division opponent is Long Branch (at Long Branch on Oct. 3 and vs. Long Branch on Oct. 9), so it is conceivable that the Cougars are headed toward another Class B North title unless some team in the division pulls the upset of the season. With two division losses, Wall is probably on the outside looking in for the Class B North division title — unless Colts Neck loses two divisional games, which is unlikely — so the Crimson Knights can fight for second place in the division, which should still get them a very high seed for the Shore Conference Tournament. Unless the upset of the season happens in Shore Conference girls soccer, Colts Neck is locked into the No. 1 seed for the SCT until further notice.
OTHER GIRLS SOCCER
Red Bank Catholic 3, Ocean 0: Junior forward Sophie Demurjian scored two second-half goals as the Caseys (6-3-2, 4-2-1) defeated the Spartans (5-5, 3-4) in a Class B North game. Jackie Rieger completed the scoring with 10 minutes left, Jyllissa Harris chipped in with two assists, and Jackie Robinson made five saves to record her third straight shutout. Ocean’s Alison Chomsky made 12 saves.
Manalapan 3, Howell 2: Arianna Ferraro’s penalty kick in the 56th minute was the clinching goal as the Braves (5-1, 5-1) defeated the Rebels (5-3, 4-3) in a Class A North game. Manalapan’s Ashley Pimentel and Ariella Kaplan added goals and Kaplan and Mya Donnelly each added an assist and Ariel Kamen made 13 saves. Howell’s Nicolette Runko and Rebecca Hamilton each had a goal and Katie Klein and Sierra Enea each had an assist and Erika DeSantis (eight saves) and Rachel Kern (seven saves) each played goalie.
IN BOYS SOCCER
Wall 1, Colts Neck 0: Roshen Eapen scored the game-winning goal at 34:20 and Reilly Barcas had the assist as the Crimson Knights defeated the Cougars in a Class B North game. Wall’s Nolan Cloney made six saves and Colts Neck’s Tice Smith made 11 saves.
Raritan 1, St. John Vianney 0: Raritan’s goal was scored on a throw in by Mike Pruscino to Nick Amodeo, who went to goal after and scored to the left side at 73:50.
Sherlon Christie: email@example.com