HomeNews TranscriptNews Transcript SportsPatriots defeat Howell, 1-0, to win second straight Shore Conference Tournament crown

Patriots defeat Howell, 1-0, to win second straight Shore Conference Tournament crown

NEPTUNE — The redemption tour for the Freehold Township High School girls soccer team added its first major highlight of the 2022 season on Oct. 22 in Neptune.

For the second straight season and the third time in program history, the Patriots were crowned Shore Conference Tournament champions as they defeated their Shore Conference A North Division rival Howell High School, 1-0, in the championship match.

“It feels amazing. It’s an unreal experience,” junior midfielder Ainsley Moy said. “We have all worked so hard for this moment. To see how much we have grown throughout the season and to see it come all together in a game like this is unreal.”

In the 29th minute of the match, junior Hailey Santiago scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. A corner kick by Moy floated over the outstretched arms of Howell’s goalie and dropped to Santiago at the corner of the Rebels’ net, where she tapped in the game’s only score.

Santiago, who leads the Patriots with 18 goals, said it was important for her to step up in the championship match and get her team off to a strong start.

“I want to be a leader when I step onto the field. By scoring these goals, I am stepping up and becoming a leader like I want to be,” she said.

The goal was enough for the Patriots’ defense, led by senior center back Gabby Koluch and senior midfielder Kayla Wong, to keep Howell off the board for the second time this season.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Moore made four saves against the Rebels to record her 12th shutout victory of the season.

Freehold Township (15-1) has outscored its opponents 57-6 and is on an 11-game winning streak.

All of the success the Patriots have enjoyed is built on the players’ chemistry and love of the game, Coach Dave Patterson said.

“They love being around each other and they love playing soccer with each other. I think that leads to their confidence on the field,” he said. “I have had some very talented groups in the past, but no team has had the energy this team has.”

The next stop on the redemption tour for Freehold Township will be the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 26.

Freehold Township won the 2021 Central Jersey Group IV crown with a 4-3 double-overtime victory over Rancocas Valley.

In the Group IV state tournament semifinals, the Patriots defeated Toms River North to advance to the Group IV championship match against Westfield. The Patriots fell to the Blue Devils in the final seconds of the state final.

The Patriots have made it their mission to return to the Group IV state final and reverse last year’s outcome. Freehold Township is seeking the program’s first state championship since 2017.

Patterson knows there is more work to be done for the team to reach its ultimate goal of winning the Group IV state crown, but he wants his players to appreciate the Shore Conference Tournament championship they just won.

“The history of the program is something we talk a lot about with the girls, so they understand what has come before them and what type of legacy they are leaving,” Patterson said. “We are appreciative of everything we have earned so far and we work for everything we earn.”

Howell (12-3-1) was making its first appearance in a Shore Conference Tournament championship match. Junior goalkeeper Madison Smith finished with seven saves.

The matchups for the boys and girls state sectional tournaments are scheduled to be released on Oct. 24.

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