FREEHOLD TWP. - It's not hard to find Shore Conference teams ranked among the top 20 in the state and Freehold Township ran into three of them in eight days. Now that the Patriots made it through that stretch, they have made the point that when it comes to the Shore Conference, they are the team to beat.

After trailing Wall, the No. 2 team in the latest rankings, at halftime, No. 3 Freehold Township scored three second-half goals to storm past the Crimson Knights, 3-1, for their fifth straight win to open the season.

"We've shown the last few games that we can take it up another level," Freehold Township coach Dave Patterson said. "It's just been building since (Saturday against Shore Regional). These girls are spent after a three-game week and four games in eight days and that's a tough think to do, but the adrenaline kept them going today."

Senior Paige Farrell converted the penalty kick that gave Freehold Township the lead in the 66th and had a hand in the two other Patriots goals by seniors Laura Noseworthy and Jada Colbert.

With her team down 1-0 in the 50th minute, Farrell served the ball toward the near corner of the six-yard box, where Jasmine Colbert just barely got her head on it to flick the ball toward the mouth of the goal. Noseworthy beat a defender to it and poked it past Wall goalkeeper Guilianna Cavazzoni. Just seconds before the ball made its way out to Farrell on the right flank, Jada Colbert ripped a shot from the right side square off the crossbar.

Freehold applied pressure on the Wall defense throughout the second half and it finally paid off in a lead when sophomore Athena Giannakouros drew a foul inside the 18-yard box in the 66th minute to set up Farrell's penalty strike.

"We just never put our heads down, which is what we needed to do," Farrell said. "Our main focus is on the team and we never get down on each other."

Jada Colbert capped the scoring in the 75th minute by running onto a ball from Farrell and drilling it off Cavazzoni and in.

Wall grabbed a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute thanks to a left-footed strike by Amy Paternoster off a feed from senior Cara Capra.

"We know how good of a player Amy is and we know how good of a team Wall is," Patterson said. "We had a little bit of a breakdown and obviously, if you give Amy Paternoster an opportunity, she's going to bury it."

From there, Freehold Township established control, building up a steady stream of runs at the Wall net over the course of the next 70 minutes. After outshooting the Crimson Knights 7-2 in the first half, Freehold Township owned a 12-1 advantage in shots in the second half.

"While didn't play poorly early, we didn't have the energy, we didn't have the intensity that I know we're capable of," Patterson said. "From the first whistle of the second half, they just showed that they wanted it more than they did in the first half. I think that made the difference, honestly."

Wall's one second half chance was a dangerous one. Shortly after Farrell gave Freehold Township the 2-1 lead, the Crimson Knights earned a free kick from 25 yards out. Senior Hailee Reinhardt took the free kick and hammered it off the bottom of the crossbar, but her Knights teammates could not swoop in for a successful rebound attempt before the Patriots defense fought off the threat.

The goal Saturday was Jada Colbert's fifth in five games, which trails only her twin sister, Jasmine, for the team lead. Jasmine Colbert scored seven goals in the first four games.

Noseworthy has also been a steady scorer with four goals, giving the Patriots 16 goals of the team's 23 goals through three players.

"They (the twins) are our main (players) but we have others that work around them, which is really special about our team," Farrell said. "We're not two players - we're a team, which is what we focus on throughout our season."

Patterson said his team did not play encouraging soccer in the preseason, but with four games in eight games with three against state-ranked opponents, the Patriots showed they have all the pieces in place to perform when it counts. The run started with a hard-fought, 3-2 win over two-time defending Group I champion Shore Regional in which Noseworthy scored the winning goal later.

It continued Tuesday with a resounding 3-0 win over defending Shore Conference Tournament champion Colts Neck, which opened the season nationally-ranked and No. 3 in N.J.

The Patriots scored three goals in each of the three games against the ranked opponents and put up seven in both of their other wins, which came against Class A North opponents Neptune and Howell.

"This is to prepare for further in the season and postseason," Farrell said. "We need to know we can play big games like this and we know this isn't the best we can be. We just need to grow from these games in the beginning of the season."


Box Score

Freehold Twp. 3, Wall 1

Wall (5-1)101
Freehold Twp. (5-0)033

Goals (Assists): (W) Amy Paternoster (Cara Capra) 9'; (FT) Laura Noseworthy (Jasmine Colbert) 50', Paige Farrell (PK) 66', Jada Colbert (Paige Farrell) 75'
Shots: Freehold Twp., 19-3
Saves: Jordan Cheche 3; Guilianna Cavazzoni 3


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