RUMSON, N.J - At one point during his team's opening-night game against Rumson-Fair Haven Tuesday night, new Marlboro head boys soccer coach Will Gould shouted instructions out toward the field, which was met with a glance from an unnamed Rumson player who thought, for a moment, he was talking to him.

It's understandable considering that just last year, most of the players on Rumson's current roster were the intended targets of Gould's direction when he in his fourth year as the Bulldogs head coach.

Standing on the sideline opposite where he spent every home game over the past four years, Gould coached his first game with his alma mater and watched as his old team turned away his new club, 2-0.

"I was nervous about this game because we're coming here to play guys I had for three years as coach," Gould said. "I knew it was going to be strange and a lot of the game, I was kind of thinking along with coach Reid just because I know those guys so well."

Rumson senior Luke DiStefano (12). (Photo by Matt Manley)
Rumson senior Luke DiStefano (12). (Photo by Matt Manley)

"It was interesting hearing his voice and not having the listen to it," Rumson senior Leo Maita joked.

Rumson's players not only wanted to put their best foot forward while facing their old coach but also wanted to continue the momentum they found at the end of the 2016 season. The Bulldogs entered last year's NJSIAA Group II Tournament 7-12 but won three straight games to reach the Central Jersey Group II final - the team's second sectional final appearance in Gould's four years.

Former Red Bank and Middletown South head coach Sean Reid has taken over for Gould and the senior-heavy roster has bought into the new voice with the new approach.

"We're all excited about the year - new coach, new program," senior center fullback Luke DiStefano said. "We like (Reid) a lot. He fits really well with the program."

"It's different," Maita said. "We're ready for a new team and we're not really concerned about what happened last year. We're just looking forward."

The Bulldogs wasted little time Tuesday, jumping on top of the Mustangs with a goal in the seventh minute. Senior Owen Greengrove delivered a corner kick into the box, where senior George Sellig got his foot on the ball and knocked it in for the first goal of the evening.

Rumson capped the scoring with a highlight-reel sequence, beginning with pass by DiStefano that traveled more than 50 yards in the air. On top of the distance, DiStefano also hit Leo Maita in stride and the senior lined up a shot from the right edge of the 18-yard box and drilled it.

"I saw Leo out on the right the play before and he told me to go long on the next one," DiStefano said. "I got the ball at my feet with tons of room back by our 40 (yard-line on the football field), look over to him, I had acres of space and I banged on over to him."

"It landed perfect for me," Maita said. "I couldn't ask for anything better."

Gould got a good look at the shot, which came right in front of the Marlboro bench

Marlboro head coach Will Gould. (Photo by Matt Manley)
Marlboro head coach Will Gould. (Photo by Matt Manley)


"That was perfect," Gould said. "I pulled (Maita) over to the side after the game and told him, 'Dude, you hit that ball perfect.'"

"He said 'frame that shot, because it will probably never happen again,'" Maita said. "I don't think I agree with that."

Marlboro returns only two starters from a 2016 team that won a school record 20 games and reached the finals of the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Tournament. In his first year with the Mustangs, Gould must catch nearly an entire roster up to speed.

"It reminds me a little of the (Rumson) team last year," Gould said. "There's some inexperience, we're a little banged up and the chemistry just isn't there yet. We're working at it though and the good thing is we have seen it in flashes and when we're on, we're very good. It's going to be a process, but we'll get there."


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