Marlboro, N.J. - The Colts Neck High School boys soccer team got back to its winning ways just when they needed to on Monday afternoon in the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament.

The No. 8 seeded Cougars dominated the action against No. 25 seed Manchester, rolling to a 2-0 victory to advance to the Round of 16 and earn their first win in four games.

“We played with much more effort and resolve than we did when we came out flat against Wall,” said Colts Neck boys soccer coach Art Collier. “I think the guys were a little embarrassed from their performance against them. It was great to see us come out and play well.”

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The Colts Neck offense was on an aggressive attack from the start, coming up short on a couple scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of action that included team-leading scorer David Tuschmann just missing a goal wide right of the net.

Tuschmann rebounded and helped Colts Neck get a shot in the net in the 12th minute by dishing out his second assist of the season.

The sophomore served a great pass to the front of the net for teammate Jake Gershon, who blasted home his fifth goal of the season to the top right corner of the net to put Colts Neck up 1-0.

“Scoring early definitely gave us a lot of confidence throughout the game,” Gershon said. “We’ve been struggling the past three games, so scoring that goal was a nice bounce back. It was a good team effort. There was a bunch of good crosses and plays in the game.”

Gershon’s five goals ranks second on the team behind Tuschmann who has a team-high eight goals on the season.

“All my goals don’t come from me, they come from everybody around me,” Gershon said. “We’re all trying to help each other score goals and get results.”

Colts Neck continued to dominate the pace of play the rest of the half, but couldn’t connect on any of their scoring chances and had to settle going into the half with a one-goal lead.

The start of the second half was much the same with Colts Neck controlling the ball relentlessly in the Manchester zone.

Colts Neck had six scoring chances in the first 11 minutes of the half that it couldn’t connect on, seeing Manchester goalie Rich Mariotti make two terrific diving saves on shots by Gershon and Tom Samaras to keep it a one-goal game. 

Mariotti finished with 10 saves in the contest for Manchester. 

Their relentless attack finally paid off again for the Cougars in the 57th minute.

Receiving a pass from teammate Ely Ferro off the short corner kick, Derek Haaf sped his way towards the Manchester net and sent a perfect crosser into the box.

Haaf’s crosser found the foot of teammate Kyle Koenig as the junior tapped in his first career high school goal to make it 2-0 and all but seal a trip to the round of 16 for Colts Neck.

“It was a great cross and good position by me to slide it home,” Koenig said. “Being my first Shore Conference Tournament game, it’s a blessing to play on such a great team with great people and to score that goal made it a great experience for me.”

Haaf now has four assists on the season for the Cougars.

Colts Neck goalkeeper Dylan Jacobs had another nice day in net for the Cougars, stringing along four saves in the win.

With the win, Colts Neck improves to 7-3-1 on the season.

The Cougars will face either Long Branch or Lacey in the next round of the tournament.

Breaking its small losing skid and advancing to the next round of the Shore Conference Tournament, Collier hopes his young Colts Neck squad can build off this win as they play tougher teams deeper into the tournament and come state playoff time.

“We need to be more consistent,” Collier said. “For a lot of our guys, this is their first win in the Shore Conference Tournament, so I need to make sure they knew how big of a win it is. Hopefully there will be a lot more of these wins to come in the future.”

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports