Patriots top Mustangs, 2-1, for seventh straight victory

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Since losing its 2022 season opener against Middletown South High School on Sept. 8, the Freehold Township High School boys soccer team has won seven straight matches en route to a 7-1 record as of Sept. 30.

“The response has been amazing” since the loss, said first-year coach Michael Tepedino. “We are rolling right now and will look to continue that for the rest of the season.”

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On Sept. 29, the Patriots defeated Marlboro High School, 2-1, at home in a Shore Conference A North Division contest.

The teams played to a 0-0 standoff in the first half.

Ten minutes into the second half, Freehold Township senior defender Kevin Kuriakose found the back of the net as he scored his first varsity goal.

Alessandro Principato took a shot that found Kuriakose and he tipped the ball off the foot of a Marlboro defender and into the net for a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.

“It definitely feels great,” Kuriakose said about scoring. “Hopefully there’s more to come, but I’m just happy it helped give the team a win.”

In the 74th minute, senior midfielder Tim Bertscha scored to extend the lead to 2-0 with just over 5:00 to play.

Bertscha followed a strong run by Victor Torres in the Mustangs’ 18-yard box by taking a short pass from Torres and scoring his third goal of the season from just in front of the net.

“That (goal) was all Victor. I just tapped it in,” Bertscha said.

Down two goals with time running out, the Mustangs did not surrender and in the 78th minute, junior Jack Cagnina scored his first goal of the season on his own corner kick to trim the lead to 2-1.

The goal brought life back into the Mustangs, who pressed the attack in the final minute of the 80-minute match. The Patriots’ defense did not yield and the game ended with Freehold Township on top.

During its seven-game win streak, Freehold Township has allowed three goals. Tepedino credited the defense of Kuriakose, Noah Joes, Michael Gorman, Danny Earhart and goalkeeper Jack Goldsmith.

“They have been incredible,” the coach said. “It’s a team effort and they know that. They are the ones doing everything.”

The Patriots sit atop the A North standings ahead of two key division matches during the upcoming week against Christian Brothers Academy and Howell High School. CBA is a game behind Freehold Township and Howell is in the mix for the division lead.

“A North is a dogfight where any team can win on any given day,” Tepedino said. “We want to make sure we are the ones on top. That is our goal and we want to do that. We are riding with the momentum (of the seven-game winning streak). The aura around our team is really positive. We are going to look to challenge for all sorts of top honors this season.”

Marlboro (3-3-1) is scheduled to play Freehold High School on Oct. 3.

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