MIDDLETOWN - Christian Brothers Academy junior Matt Thorsheim is only in the early stages of his third varsity season, but he has been in plenty of intense, wild games in his time.

The game he and his Colts - ranked No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - won Thursday against No. 1 Freehold Township topped the list for the junior center midfielder.

Junior Matt Mawson capped a run of three CBA goals in under eight minutes following a Freehold Township red card and the Colts rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Patriots, 3-2, in a match-up of the top two ranked teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.

Matt Mawson scored the game-winning goal in CBA's 3-2 win over Freehold Township on Thursday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Thorsheim scored the first two goals for CBA and set up the winner with a diagonal through-ball that made it across the box to Mawson, who finished for the go-ahead score in the 72nd minute.

"That is probably the craziest game I've ever played in," said Thorsheim, who has an overtime penalty kick golden goal in the NJSIAA Playoffs during his freshman season on his resume. "Just crazy plays that you don't normally see over the course of ten games."

Freehold Township goalkeeper Mike Christina was issued a red card for a push to a CBA player away from the play with 16:16 left to play and his team leading 2-0. Thorsheim made the ensuing penalty kick to pull CBA within 2-1.

The official who made the call indicated that Christina swung with a closed fist, which prompted the red card. The senior goalkeeper, who is a former CBA student and left the field to handshakes and hugs from both CBA and Freehold Township players alike, will have to sit for the next two games per NJSIAA rules.

"I didn't see it," Freehold Township coach Todd Briggs said. "I was just about to make two situational substitutions and as I was talking to those guys, it occurred. So I don't even know what happened. I can only go by the explanation I got from the referee and my goalie admitted to it so I can't react much to how egregious it was. The referee was five yards away from the play and made the right call."

Backup goalkeeper Jake Konig was whistled for a violation for dropping the ball inside the 18-yard box and picking it up again, which gave CBA an indirect kick from the spot. After a touch on the ball, Thorsheim buried a shot to the lower left of the goal to tie the game in the 69th minute.

"We were supposed to have a second player run over the ball before I shot it and at first, nobody came," Thorsheim said. "They (Freehold Township) jumped up and I was expected a card or a whistle or something and when it didn't happen, they were still getting set, the second guy (senior John Frycz) ran over the ball and I just went for the lower left."

"I think the thing that hurt us more than anything was playing a man down," Briggs said. "I wouldn't put it on the keeper change at all. I know Jake expected to do better, because that's the kind of kid he is, but you can't put that on him. I think playing a man down slanted the field and that's what made the difference."

With Freehold Township playing a man down for the final 63:46, CBA attacked the Patriots on the right side of the formation, where they built up the attack for Mawson's winner. Thorsheim's diagonal ball past junior Ryan Nigro, who let the ball go through him as he was making a run. That gave Mawson space to settle the ball and hit a low shot past Konig.

"When they went down a man, they took away an outside midfielder, so we had to expose the side that they didn't have a player on," Thorsheim said. "So instead of just playing it through, we were playing around with the ball, forcing them to step out and then when they did, that's when we'd hit the outsides and try to attack down the flanks."

"That was a really good decision by Nigro to let it go and then for Mawson to be able to stay composed, settle the ball and hit a solid shot is a great job by a junior playing in his first real big game at the varsity level," CBA assistant coach Jeff Matson said.

Nigro came off the bench to give the Colts quality minutes in the defensive central midfield, drawing praise from both Thorsheim and Matson.

"When we put in Nigro, he was a huge help," Thorsheim said. "He kept the ball for us and we were able to move the ball around really well and created some opportunties."

"Nigro came in and did a great job," Matson said. "He and Joey Paolillo do all the dirty work. They hold the ball, they win the ball, they distribute it. Joey was getting a little gassed and Nigro came in and gave us a little different look and really did well. They scored right away, but that wasn't his fault."

The Patriots broke a scoreless tie in the 48th minute on a goal by Nick Facendo, who played a give-and-go with senior Chris Hoskins, took a touch toward the middle and buried a shot to the far right post.

Hoskins gave the Patriots a 2-0 lead in the 53rd with a near-post header off a free kick by senior Mike Maltese from outside the 18-yard box on the left side. Up until the red card on Christina, which occurred after the Freehold Township defense had cleared the ball out of its own box on the play, the Patriots were in firm control.

"It's disappointing on a lot of levels, but at the same time, it was 2-0 before the game changed," Briggs said. "At that point, it was a definitive victory. It wasn't like last year when we were heading in some fluke goals. We came out with a purpose, we came out with an intention to the lineup and the formation and it was executed to perfection. That's the killer."

The second-half offensive outburst followed a tame first half in which Christina stuffed the lone dangerous opportunity by blocking an attempt by CBA senior Nick Meyer on the left side of the 18-yard box. The Patriots made a late push to score in the final five minutes, but the Colts were able to stave off the surge, highlighted by senior defender Tom Lozowski, who headed a ball over the crossbar when CBA goalkeeper Aedan Boriotti was off his line.

Freehold Township was without 6-foot-5 senior defender Adrian Barajas at that point due to a calf injury that Briggs said could keep him out for some period of time going forward.

"I think they might have been better off pushing up on us like they did at the end, but you can't blame them for defending," Matson said. "Our guys know how to score goals. Once they know how the flaw in the formation, they are going to attack it and once the red card came out, it definitely changed things."

 

Box Score

CBA 3, Freehold Township 2

1

2

F

Freehold Twp. (1-1-1, 1-1-0)

0

2

2

CBA (3-1, 3-0)

0

3

3

Goals: (FT) Nick Facendo (Chris Hoskins) 48’, Chris Hoskins (Mike Maltese) 53’; (CBA) Thorsheim (PK) 64, Thorsheim (Frycz) 69’, Mawson (Thorsheim) 72’
Shots: Freehold Twp., 9-8
Saves: (FT) Mike Christina 2, Jake Konig 0; (CBA) Aedan Boriotti 4