Boys Soccer – Freehold Twp. Eyes Repeat in Central Group IV Final
For the second straight year, Freehold Township will host the Central Group IV championship game and if Saturday’s showdown goes anything like last year’s final vs. Howell, it will be a grind. The Patriots pulled out a 1-0 victory over their Class A North division rivals in the 2021 final and this time around, it will be against a Monroe team in the sectional final round for the first time since losing to Freehold Township in Monroe in the 2015 championship game.
Each of the last three times Monroe has reached the sectional final, the Falcons have faced a Shore Conference opponent. One year prior to losing to Freehold Township in the 2015 Central Group IV final, the Falcons lost at Manalapan. In 2012, Monroe traveled to Jackson Memorial and beat a one-loss Jaguars team – the last time the Falcons won a sectional championship.
Monroe entered this season with high expectations and a schedule to match, playing out-of-conference games against CBA, Pingry and Elizabeth and still enter the sectional final round with 13 wins. The Falcons’ road to the final was considerably tougher than that of Freehold Township, with Monroe having to survive Greater Middlesex Conference champion Old Bridge in overtime and Shore Conference Tournament runner-up Howell on penalties in consecutive rounds.
Freehold Township’s road to the final included games against the No. 14 and 15 seeds in the field, with the Patriots hammering No. 15 South Brunswick in Wednesday’s sectional final. Prior to the NJSIAA Tournament, Freehold Township endured a minor slump, in which it went 2-5 during a seven-game stretch. An overtime win over West Windsor-Plainsboro South in the first round got the Patriots back on track and the last two results – both 3-0 wins – suggest the rough waters are behind them.
The Patriots made it all the way to the Group IV final a year ago and, despite graduating eight starters and replacing head coach Josh Mehl with new coach Mike Tepedino, Freehold Township finds itself in a similar position to its circumstances a season ago. With one win at home and another on the road, the Patriots would be back in the Group IV final with a shot at redemption after last year's lopsided loss to Kearny.
NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Championship
No. 4 Monroe at No. 3 Freehold Township, 3 p.m.
Head Coach: Steve MacKenzie
Last Sectional Championship: 2012
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 13 North Brunswick, 4-1; No. 5 Old Bridge, 1-0 in overtime; No. 1 Howell, 1-1 (5-4 on penalties).
Players to Watch
Nate Lipton, Sr., Midfield (10 goals, 5 assists)
Jaden Lu, Sr., Defense (6 goals)
Derek Alfonso, Sr., Forward (7 goals, 1 assist)
Justin Oliveri, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 9 assists)
Diego Galindo, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 8 assists)
Marcelo Sabat, Sr., Defense (3 goals, 2 assists)
Freehold Township (13-6)
Head Coach: Mike Tepedino
Last Sectional Championship: 2021
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 14 West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 3-2 in overtime; No. 6 Marlboro, 3-0; No. 15 South Brunswick, 3-0.
Players to Watch
Tim Bertscha, Sr., Midfield (7 goals, 5 assists)
Noah Jones, Sr., Defense (3 goals, 5 assists)
Aidan Englander, Sr., Forward (7 goals, 3 assists)
Kevin Kuriakose, Sr., Defense (1 goals, 1 assist)
Victor Torres, Jr., Forward (2 goals, 6 assists)
Alessandro Principato, Jr., Forward (3 goals, 5 assists)
Tyler Santos, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 3 assists)
Jake Visco, Sr., Forward/Midfield (5 goals, 1 assist)
Kyle Chalfin, Sr., Defense (2 goals, 1 assist)
Michael Gorman, So., Defense (1 goal, 2 assists)
Jack Goldsmith, Sr., Goalkeeper (9 shutouts)
SSN Prediction: Freehold Twp., 3-2