Colts Neck boys, Freehold Township girls win 2020 regional soccer titles

The Colts Neck High School boys soccer team celebrates defeating Cranford 3-0 to win the Central East E, Group 3 Middlesex/Union regional championship on Nov. 21 in Colts Neck.

Two teams from the Freehold Regional High School District won regional soccer crowns to cap the 2020 season.

In a year where New Jersey’s post-season state tournament format was changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Colts Neck High School boys won the Central East E, Group 3 Middlesex-Union regional championship. The title marked the first state crown for the Cougars since 2000.

Colts Neck hosted Cranford High School in the regional final on Nov. 21. Junior David Tuschmann led his team to a 3-0 victory. Tuschmann put Colts Neck on board in the first minute of the match and scored twice in the second half to complete a hat trick. He ended the season with 25 goals.


“I owe it to my teammates for putting me in those situations and it feels great,” Tuschmann said. “I feel like from the hard work I put in during the off-season, that I can do anything. It feels great to be a state champion.”

Tuschmann and a strong group of seniors led Colts Neck to a 15-2 record in 2020. Winning a championship was the goal for the team and its 15 seniors coming into the season.

“That was the goal; to win a championship,” senior Jake Gershon said. “It’s a great feeling. For the seniors, it was the last game of the season, so you wanted to come out on top. We really came up strong in our last three games to win a state title. It’s awesome.”

Gershon led the team with 11 assists and scored a career-high 12 goals in 2020.

Senior Tom Samaras and sophomore Jairo Chira each had an assist in the victory over Cranford. Samaras scored nine goals and added nine assists during the season.

After his team won the championship, Coach Art Collier said this season was “up there” as one of his favorite seasons in 23 years at the helm.

The coach was proud of his players for all of their hard work on the field and for the sacrifices they made off the field to make sure the pandemic did not stop their season. Collier said he will miss the 15 seniors and will always remember what his team accomplished.

“These kids all did the right things,” he said. “They did it all so they could be here in a state championship game. This is a great group of kids. Coaches don’t celebrate championships. We do so for the kids. It’s not my championship. It’s theirs.”

The Freehold Township girls won the Central East E regional championship with a 5-1 victory over Union High School on Nov. 22 in a match played at Howell High School.

Three years removed from winning the NJSIAA Group 4 state championship, Coach Dave Patterson was proud to see his talented players bring home another title.

“I’m really proud of them to make it through this season and win a championship,” the coach said. “We felt this team was capable of winning a championship. They are a great group of girls and it feels really good to win a state title.”

As a freshman, Ryann Leohner was a key member of the 2017 state championship squad.

This year, as a senior, she cemented her legacy, in Patterson’s eyes, with a terrific senior campaign to help the Patriots win another title.

Leohner scored twice against Union in the title match and led the team with 12 goals in 2020.

Senior Alyssa Napolitano also scored against Union, and freshman Cassidy Corcione scored a goal and added two assists. Corcione finished an impressive freshman campaign with 11 goals and a team-high eight assists.

The Patriots’ run to the regional title was hard-fought. Trailing East Brunswick High School, 1-0, in the regional semifinal match, Freehold Township (13-1-1) rallied in the second half to take a 2-1 lead against the Bears.

East Brunswick tied the game in the final three minutes of regulation and after two scoreless overtime periods, the match came down to penalty kicks.

Patterson said his players were calm entering the penalty kick stage and confident they would win. The Patriots scored on all five of their penalty kicks to secure the win and advance to the title match.

“To see them go through everything they did this season and end it with smiles on their faces and holding up a championship made the moment even sweeter. We have 17 seniors and for them to win a state championship as their last moment was a great feeling for a coach,” Patterson said.

The Patriots have won three state titles with Patterson at the helm.