The first thing easy to notice when Gateway senior Anthony Colofranson is on the soccer field is what is in front of and what is behind him.
That would be opponents.
Colofranson got away with running freely for his first two varsity seasons and the beginning of his third, but a goal-scoring spree that included 30 in his first 10 games last year alerted teams that he shouldn't be left alone.
And so he isn't.
One defender in front, one in back, and often another to the side.
So the fact that Colofranson has 102 career goals after scoring three in Saturday's 5-1 victory over visiting GCIT is even more impressive when considering what he has to do at times simply to get the ball.
"It really makes you work," Colofranson said.
Imagine how the defenders feel.
Colofranson stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 150 pounds. It is not imposing size that would suggest anything out of the ordinary.
Yet he has the one trait all top finishers possess: that proverbial nose for the goal. He can play with his back to the goal or facing it, and most of all, he is well- acquainted with the back of the net and how to put the ball there.
"He is just a pure finisher and has a striker's mentality," veteran Gateway coach Steve Pasquarello said.
Colofranson has been a four-year varsity performer, and each season has been better than the prior one. He had six goals as a freshman, 19 as a sophomore, 47 last year, and 30 so far this season for the 8-2 Gators, who were a South Jersey Group 1 semifinalist last year and have a chance to take things farther this year.
He has made it look easy at times, although scoring goals in soccer is among the most difficult tasks in sports.
"Sometimes you get hit from the front, from the back, and it's a challenge, because there isn't a lot of room to work," he said.
Still, he finds ways to score. And when he scores in bunches, Colofranson has heard the skeptics who suggest that the goals are the result of playing against small-enrollment schools, as if those opponents aren't employing a flat-out effort to stop him.
"I don't pay attention to that," he said.
What, however, if he played in a larger-enrollment school, with a deeper pool of teammates to choose from and players who could take the defense's attention away from Colofranson?
That's why on the next level, while he doesn't expect to score in this fashion, Colofranson looks forward to having the chance to run more freely.
He is looking to play in college and said schools on all levels - Division I, II, and III - are in contact.
"I love the game and want to keep playing," Colofranson said.
He plays to win, but earning the 100-goal milestone was naturally a big thrill.
"It's exciting," he said. "It is really fun."
One reason he has scored so much, besides having a nose for the goal, is the accuracy on his shot. And like all accomplished finishers, he can feel the pressure and pull the trigger quickly when shooting.
Colofranson could use some work on moving without the ball, but that's something that many high school players, even top scorers, don't always do particularly well.
"That's part of his game he has been working on," Pasquarello said.
The biggest improvement, the coach said, is not trying to force the issue.
"It's hard, but he has been patient and has done an excellent job," Pasquarello said.
That patience has been rewarded, more than 100 times over.
Contact Marc Narducci
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