TOMS RIVER – Goals from Colts Neck’s Frankie Tagliaferri and Amanda Visco led the Cougars to a 2-0 NJISAA Group III semifinal victory over Toms River South.
When meeting Toms River South in a Shore Conference quarterfinal game, the Cougars needed overtime to get by the Indians in a 2-1 victory.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday night.
“We talked about the number of times we were able to get behind their defense in that first game, and we didn’t capitalize,” Colts Neck head coach Doug Phillips said. “We said we just had to keep generating chances for 80 minutes and to just try to be solid in the back.”
This performance from Colts Neck was far better than what they showed in the sectional semifinal victory over Wall, as the Indians were unable to get a shot on goal through 80 minutes.
Phillips credited Wall’s showing in that sectional semifinal but also the way Colts Neck came out to play in the first half against Toms River South.
“I think the first half might have been the best soccer we played all year,” Phillips said. “We talked all week about how since August 15th the pressure has been on us to get back to this group final.”
Tagliaferri’s first goal came off after a deflected shot from Colts Neck’s Kayla Lee right before halftime.
“Last time we were up 1-0 against them, and they came back,” Tagliaferri said. “We knew that they weren’t just going to sit back, so we had to try and come out in the second half and get another one.”
The second goal came courtesy of a Tagliaferri set piece that found the head of Amanda Visco early in the second half.
“Amanda and I have played together for a long time in high school and PDA; we get great combinations with each other,” Tagliaferri said.
Colts Neck will get defending Group III champion Northern Highlands, which defeated West Morris 6-5 in PK’s in the other Group III semifinal.
Northern Highlands has won four straight Group III titles, including a 4-0 victory over the Cougars last season.
“Overall I thought they (Northern Highlands) were a great team: They knew how to possess the ball; they were very soccer-smart,” Tagliaferri said. “I think this year we are also a special team; we both have experience. It’s going to be a great game.”
In NJSIAA boys soccer
Toms River South 1, Ocean 0: Cameron Geerinck scored the only goal of the game as the Indians punched a ticket to the NJSIAA Group III title game.
Geerinck has performed well this state tournament, setting the school record for most goals in a season in Toms River South’s sectional final win.
Geerinck now has 28 goals for the Indians this season.
“It’s unbelievable. Coming in, we knew Ocean had only given up two goals in 10 games, and Cameron has scored in the last 11. We knew something had to give,” Toms River South head coach Ron Laycock said after the victory.
After the goal, the Toms River South defense did a good job of limiting the dangerous chances from Ocean.
Toms River South will play in the Group III final on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Kean University.
“I think these kids believe,” Laycock said. “These guys are not intimidated by anyone, and they feel like they belong on the field with anyone.”
Staff Writer Chris Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org