FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Michael Tepedino considers the Freehold Township High School boys soccer program to be a family.
The bond Tepedino remembers developing with his teammates during his high school days at Freehold Township have remained the same since he returned to the program as an assistant coach for the last seven years.
In 2022, Tepedino will lead his alma mater as the new head coach of the Patriots.
“I am really excited to be the guy in charge,” he said. “I am lucky to come to a program that is a family. It’s a close knit community. There are great roots here and we have always had a good program. I am really looking forward to this season.”
Tepedino succeeds Josh Mehl, who is now the supervisor of extracurricular activities at Freehold High School, Freehold Borough.
Mehl guided Freehold Township to a 17-4-2 campaign in 2021. The Patriots won the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional tournament championship and reached the Group IV state championship match.
Tepedino said he understands being the head coach at Freehold Township comes with high expectations. He saw that as an assistant coach under Todd Briggs, who was the head coach for 10 seasons before Mehl took the reins.
From 2006-15, the Patriots went 134-62-15 under Briggs, winning two state sectional tournament titles and two Shore Conference Tournament (SCT) championships.
Under Mehl’s leadership, the Patriots won the SCT crown in 2019, and in 2021 the squad won the program’s first state sectional tournament championship since 2015.
Tepedino believes he can help continue that winning tradition. He said his team has the ability to replicate the success the 2021 Patriots enjoyed.
“It is the same expectations,” he said. “We want to continue the success of prior seasons … whether it is making it back to an SCT final or winning a sectional championship like last year and making it to a state championship game.”
Seniors Tim Bertscha, Noah Jones, Kevin Kuriakose and Jack Goldsmith are back after playing a part in Freehold Township’s run to the 2021 state sectional tournament crown.
“I have been really happy with all of their contributions so far this season,” Tepedino said of those four seniors. “They are tremendous. They are great leaders on and off the field.”
Bertscha will lead the attack as a forward. Kuriakose (left back) and Jones (midfield) will be key players on both ends of the field, as will as senior midfielder Aidan Englander.
Goldsmith will set the tone in net as the starting goalkeeper. Playing in front of Goldsmith on defense will be sophomore Michael Gorman and seniors Kyle Chalfin, Danny Earhart and Kenny Sloan.
Two players Tepedino has been very impressed with during the preseason are senior Tyler Santos and junior Victor Torres. Both are expected to be key contributors on offense.
Freehold Township will open the 2022 season on Sept. 8 against Middletown South High School.
Tepedino is looking forward to his first game as head coach and hopes it can be the start of another outstanding season.
“We are going to be ready to go. We are going to challenge for a lot of the honors we can have (this season),” he said.