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Sep 02, 2021

Experienced Players Return to Colts Neck Girls’ Soccer Team

By Tim Morris

With eight returning starters and 14 varsity letter-winners, the Colts Neck High School girls’ soccer team is in position to compete for championships this fall.

The Cougars are coming off a solid 12-3-1 campaign in which they advanced to the Central Jersey III state sectional semifinals. Head Coach Kevin Hein believes his team is ready to take the next step and capture a championship. The reasons for this optimism are experience and talent. The Cougars have both.

The lineup is filled with three- and four-year starters led by Jordana Golove (Sr. F), Madelyn Moore (Sr. M) and Ella Cano (Sr. D).

Golove led the team in goal-scoring last fall with 12, and Hein anticipates her taking off this season. The striker was all-county in 2020.

“She’s getting better every year,” the coach pointed out. “She had six goals as a sophomore and 12 goals last year. She has a nice cast around her.”

Ava Gregorio (Sr. F) and Carys Gardiner (Jr. F) add firepower upfront with Golove. Gregorio had five goals and six assists in ’20, and Gardiner chipped in with four goals and five assists.

Juli Coniglio (Jr. M) and Moore patrol midfield where their experience is being counted on to help Colts Neck do a better job controlling the ball. If there was a weakness that held the team back against the better teams last season, it was holding onto the ball in their third of the pitch.

“The big thing missing last year was possession in the attacking zone,” Hein explained. “If we don’t turn the ball over in the zone, we won’t get caught in transition which hurt us last year.”

Coniglio, the team captain, has been moved from center back to attacking center midfielder where she can add to the team’s offensive capabilities.

Defensively, the Cougars are loaded with talent and experience led by Madison Hunt (Sr. D), Kylie Jacoutot (Jr. D) and Cano. They spearheaded a defense that allowed just 16 goals and recorded eight shutouts.

Replacing four-year keeper Kaitlyn Torres is the biggest hurdle for Colts Neck, but fortunately, they have quality there again in Mia Nikolic (So. GK), who displayed she is ready when she was called on last year.

Adding depth to the Cougars are 2020 letter-winners Taryn Jacobs (Sr. M/F), Averie Engel (Sr. F), Isabella Marcinkiewicz (Sr. F), Jena Koenig (Jr. D), Kylie Richardson (Soph. M/F) and Anna Casler (So. D).

Besides all the experience, the Cougars have talented reserves who sparked the JV to an 11-1 record and the freshmen to an undefeated season.

The Cougars have finished second to Wall in the B North Division the last three years, and two of the team’s three losses were to the Crimson Knights in 2020. Hein and the Cougars would love to clear that hurdle this year before chasing postseason tournament trophies.