Back on Track: No. 9 Freehold Township gets well-rounded effort to beat No. 7 St. John Vianney
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – There have been games where its offense has operated with high efficiency, games where its defense has played at a shut-down level and games where Aidan Purcell has been a brick wall in goal. Freehold Township has been waiting for a game where all three happen at once.
That moment came on Thursday, and the timing could not have been better.
Senior midfielder Matt Kondrup led the offense with a game-high four goals, long poles Evan Nastarowicz and Joel Maragoto and defensive midfielder Evan Savino led a stellar defensive effort and Purcell made 10 saves in goal to lead the Patriots, ranked No. 9 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, to a 7-4 victory over No. 7 St. John Vianney.
Tied 2-2 at halftime, St. John Vianney (5-5) pulled ahead early in the third quarter on a goal by senior attackman Andrew Gosse, but Freehold Township scored the final five goals of the third quarter to build a 7-3 lead on its way to a much-needed win.
“I think this may have been the most important game of the season,” Purcell said. “We’re ninth and they're seventh, and we just came out knowing we needed to win this game.”
A win over a fellow Top 10 team provided the validation the Patriots (5-4) had been seeking early this season. Six of their first nine opponents have been top 10 teams, but since a season-opening 6-5 win over Southern Regional, the Patriots had come up empty. The nature of those loses – 4-2 to Howell, 6-5 to Middletown South and 12-10 to Wall – also left them frustrated. It was time for a close game against a quality team to go their way.
“After losing three basically one-goal games we wanted to get one today,” Kondrup said. “We’ve had games where the offense was complete or the defense was complete, but we were waiting for it to all click, and that’s what happened today. This was a must-win game and we came in ready.”
“It’s definitely our first game where the offense and the defense have come together, played a full game and put their part forward,” Natarowicz said. “When you put everything together you end up holding a high-scoring team to four and putting a good seven up against a good goalie and a good ‘D’.”
Supplementing Kondrup’s four goals were junior attackman Brendan Doel and senior midfielder Nick Elimanco with one goal and one assist each and senior midfielder Kyle Von Nessen with one goal. Gosse scored twice for St. John Vianney while junior midfielder Anthony Brett had one goal and one assist, attackman Nick Caruti scored once and senior goalie C.J. Hanson made seven saves.
To hold a St. John Vianney offense that entered averaging over 10 goals per game to just four goals, Freehold Township’s defenders needed to play with tenacity. They weren’t perfect, but they were relentless. Several times a pole would get beat on a dodge only to recover with a stick check just as a shot was to be unleashed, sending a ball to the ground where it mostly went the other way.
“Obviously you never want to give up on a play so if you make a mistake you come right back and try to steal it,” Nastarowicz said. “Our scheme works when we play it right and we’re talking out there. Once we figured out what they were doing it just came down to playing as a unit and making sure everyone was on the same page.”
“Our defense has always been our strong point,” said Freehold Township head coach Ryan Eichner. “We had a really tough first half of the season and we played some really good offenses that kind of exposed some things. We spent probably the last week really looking at film and fixing some things and making adjustments.”
The scoring began at the 2:49 mark of the first quarter when Kondrup backed in a defender, dodged right to left and whipped a shot past Hanson. SJV tied it up when Brett dodged and sank a shot from the wing with 5:49 left in the second quarter. With 3:52 left in the half, Savino took the ball from his own goal line extended, ran out the clear himself and dished to Doel, who dodged around a defender and scored to give Freehold Township a 2-1 lead. Gosse knotted the score at two when he dodged right from the top of the box and bounced a shot between the legs of Purcell with 1:30 left until the break.
St. John Vianney took its first and only lead of the game early in the second half when Brett ran the ball across midfield, drew a defender to himself and dished to Gosse, who bounced a shot inside the far post from the left wing.
Kondrup tied the score, 3-3, when he took a pass from Elimanco and ripped a shot into the top left corner and Von Nessen gave the Patriots a 4-3 lead with an EMO goal with 8:08 left in the third. The lead grew to 5-3 when Kondrup spun and scored to complete his hat trick and extended to 6-3 on Kondrup’s fourth goal. Elimanco then scored to make it 7-3.
“They have a very good offense and our defense and goalie play was excellent to hold them to four goals,” Eichner said. “C.J. Hanson is a fantastic goalie and made some good saves but we were able to put a couple extra in. We had that run there in the third quarter and that was the difference in the game.”
No. 9 Freehold Township 7, No. 7 St. John Vianney 4
|St. John Vianney (5-5)||0||2||1||1||4|
|Freehold Township (5-4)||1||1||5||0||7|
GOALS – SJV: Andrew Gosse 2, Anthony Brett, Nick Caruti; FT: Matt Kondrup 4, Brendan Doel, Kyle Von Nessen, Nick Elimanco.
ASSISTS – SJV: Anthony Brett; FT: Brendan Doel, Nick Elimanco.
SAVES – SJV: C.J. Hanson, 7; FT: Aidan Purcell, 10
SHOTS: St. John Vianney, 19-18.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.