By Tim Morris
Field hockey powerhouses Freehold Township High School and Freehold High School are in line to continue their winning ways in 2016.
Last fall, Freehold Township (14-6-1) won its second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV sectional title (fourth in the last five years), defeating Jackson Memorial High School, 2-1, in the finals in overtime on Jessica Pietracatella’s goal.
Freehold (13-2-2) went through the regular season undefeated and repeated as the Shore Conference A North Division champions. However, a devastating loss in the state sectional semifinals to Summit High School on penalty strokes still stings and is motivation for this fall.
Freehold Township lost several starters from their Central Jersey championship team, but the Patriots are not in a rebuilding mood.
“We look to be competitive in the A North Division, Shore Conference Tournament and state tournament,” Freehold Township head coach Kara Moceri said. “We look forward to a great year.”
The Patriots return dominating midfielders Raegen Dunn and Madison Hoskins, who control the game with their stick work and passing. They help Freehold Township maintain possession and keep the ball in the oppositions’ third of the field.
Freehold Township relied on balanced scoring last year and because of that, it has many proven scorers back, led by senior Sam Perskin (nine goals, two assists). Jessica Applegate had seven goals and eight assists, and Elena Andreye matched her seven goals. Also back are Renata Baute and Hailey Verga.
Kali Williams anchors a defense that lost its quarterback: the graduated Kellie Hennessy. Kaylee Perman is in goal.
Rounding out the 2016 Patriots are Emma Butrym, Julia Eriksen, Giulia Mazzone, Samara Mowla, Kirsten Murphy, Nicole Schultz, Gabriella Spieler, Madison Stein and Britany Tolmachewich.
Freehold Township won its season opener Sept. 8, 1-0, over St. John Vianney High School in a non-division game. Eriksen notched the game’s lone goal. Perman stopped five shots in registering the clean sheet.
The Colonials are moving forward with new head coach Donna Hein, who was an assistant coach at Bridgewater-Raritan High School for a decade. She is well aware of the Colonials’ rich history in the sport.
“I’m looking forward to continue the winning tradition of the Borough,” she said.
“We have a dedicated and hard-working group of girls who are very eager to win and go far in the Shore Conference and state tournament.”
The Colonials are a team with 10 seniors who have known nothing but success and want to make sure it continues in 2016.
Graduation hit the Colonials on the offensive end, but they have Tori Tiefenthaler — their leading scorer with 19 goals and 10 assists — back, as well as Gabby Arancio, who can provide scoring support.
Alex Bock controls the midfield, where she triggers the transition from defense to offense.
Jill Ruggiero is a multi-year starter on defense, where she provides experience and a calming influence.
Freehold has a game-changing goalie in Belly Reynoso, who was spectacular last year making the difficult save look routine. The confidence the Colonials have in her allows the defense to play more aggressively.
All of the above are of the senior class that just two years ago won the Central Jersey, Group IV title. They want desperately to end their careers with another sectional crown.
Kathryn Byrnes, Alyssa Correia, Keily Gouveia, Lindsay Koller, Neesas Mackey-Guerra and Nicole Ray complete the seniors on the team.
Rounding out the 2016 Colonials are Nicole Fossani, Kathryn Ricker, Alyssa Barba, Hailey Schneider and Sara Urbine.
Freehold had little trouble scoring in its Sept. 8 season opener at home against A North opponent Manalapan High School, winning, 9-0.
Tiefenthaler and Byrnes led the way, with each scoring a hat trick. Tiefenthaler added two assists for a five-point game.
Bock, Fossani and Schneider also scored for Freehold. Fossani and Ricker each had two assists.
Reynoso stopped one shot en route to the shutout.
The Colonials and Patriots will again battle it out for the A North Division crown. The first meeting is Sept. 22 in Freehold Borough, and round two is in Freehold Township Oct. 22.
This could be a breakout season for Colts Neck High School, which moves into A North. Coming back are their leading scorers, Amy McGee (nine goals, two assists), Amy Flood (eight goals, two assists), Erin Callery (six goals, five assists) and Taylor Schandall (four goals, six assists), which gives the team a balanced attack.
The Cougars have experience on defense with Lauren Keusch, Lea Vecchiarelli and Madison Bellow.
Gina Wagar, Aryana Muscara and Callery patrol the midfield.
Completing the team are Jordin Hugger, Madison Flynn, Elizabeth Whalen, Victoria Ochlan and Jenna Filingeri, as well as goalies Helen Kiechlin and Steph LoNano.
Colts Neck also opened the campaign with a win, defeating Neptune High School, 4-1. Hugger scored twice for the Cougars, while Flood and Ochlan delivered solo goals during the Sept. 8 opener.