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Nov 15, 2022

Colts Neck Boys’ Soccer Coach Shifts Focus to Offense

By Tim Morris

It has been an unusual but highly enjoyable season for the Colts Neck High School boys’ soccer team. Not expected to compete for a championship, the Cougars didn’t just compete but won the Shore Conference B North Division championship. They did it playing a more offensive-minded game than previous Cougar squads and having a flare for the dramatic.

“We’ve scored in bunches,” Head Coach Art Collier said. “We’ve scored goals in the first 30 seconds of games and in the final 30 seconds. That gives a team a big lift and is every coach’s nightmare.”

The Cougars also have a knack for scoring quickly after surrendering a goal.

“When we give up a score, we seem to respond right away,” Collier said.

While the timing of goals is out of the ordinary so, too, has been the way the Cougars have been playing. While defense has been Colts Neck’s trademark under Collier in his 24 years leading the program, this fall, the head coach has adjusted to his 2022 talent. This is his most offensive squad, one that is constantly looking to attack.

“I’m a defensive coach, but you deal with the cards your dealt,” he explained. “We work the ball forward directly to our forwards who have speed. This team just attacks and attacks.”

Senior Jiro Chira has been the catalyst for this new, aggressive Colts Neck team.

“Jiro is a very good player,” said Collier. “He was always a support player for David Tuschmann. This year, I expected him to take the scoring load. He has stepped to it. He’s hard to handle. He’s able to maintain possession when they try to foul him. He can play at the next level.”

Chira has not had to handle the scoring load by himself, which is why the Cougars are having an unexpected championship season. He has found a partner in sophomore Kyle Moore. Together, they’ve been an irresistible force for defenses to try and handle.

“They play off each other well,” Collier pointed out. “They both have incredible speed.”

Chira and Moore are not the only scorers in the Cougars’ arsenal. Forward Jeff DeCarvalho (Sr.) has emerged as a goal-scorer himself, giving the Cougars a relentless, three-pronged attack that is hard to defend.

“All three are dangerous,” Collier pointed out.

Midfielders Nick Mavica (Sr.) and Sam Gershon (So.) are the players who are setting Cira, Moore and DeCarvalho up with their passes and sometimes joining in the attack.

“They’re playing very well as a unit,” Collier said of his forwards and midfielders.

Even with all the offensive fireworks this season, it’s not like the defense has been absent. The Cougars remain formidable on the backline, led by senior center backs Niko Cappelini and Ryan Gershon.

“They are smart players and see the game well,” noted Collier. “They settle the defense.”

In 12 games, the Cougars have only allowed 17 goals.

In goal, Colts Neck has a rare freshman starter in Liam Collura. He’s just the third frosh in program to start, and he has more than upheld his position.

“He’s very athletic and strong in the air and has quick reflexes,” Collier said of Collura. “He’s made the big save in games. He’s learning on the job, and he has senior leaders around him.”

After a pair of Shore Conference Tournament wins, Colts Neck is 9-2-1 at the time of writing. The Cougars went 6-1 in the B North Division, claiming that championship after beating Ocean, 4-1, in the division finale. It was the first division title for Colts Neck since 2012.