I t seems that the Colts Neck High School and Freehold High School boys soccer teams cannot chase each other away.
In 2010, the two teams shared the Shore Conference B North Division crown.
In 2011, with the B North schedule winding down, the Cougars and the Colonials find themselves locked in a tie for first place.
After his Cougars lost their opening game at Freehold, 1-0, Colts Neck coach Art Collier shook hands with Freehold coach John Lachacz, wished him good luck on the season and in passing noted that they would be playing each other again.
The rematch took place in Colts Neck on Sept. 26 and this time the Cougars won a well-played match, 3-2, on Brian Keusch’s goal in the 74th minute of the 80-minute match. It was the first loss of the season for Freehold and the win moved the Cougars into a first-place B North tie with the Colonials.
After starting the season 0-2 (they lost a non-conference match to St. Joseph of Metuchen after falling at Freehold), Colts Neck won seven straight matches entering play this week.
Part of the reason behind Colts Neck’s surge is good health. The Cougars were undermanned early in the season and are now at full strength, with the exception of the injured Alex Ramos.
The Cougars’ defense kept the team afloat while the squad waited to get everyone back.
“The keys to the defense have been Jake Connors, who has been doing a great job at center back, and Brian Keusch, who has been playing defensive center midfield,” Collier said.
Junior David Reingold, has been very steady in goal. He had the tough job of replacing James Sheehan, who graduated.
Collier praised the two-way play of midfielders JakeAreman and Scott Halpern. He said those two “have been playing exceedingly well.”
So has Jay Mikula, who leads the team in scoring with nine goals and four assists.
“Jay has been doing just what we had expected,” said Collier, who added, “we need other guys to step up and also become scoring threats.”
Areman has scored three goals and is Colts Neck’s leading playmaker with six assists. KevinAlfaro is second in goals scored with four. Alfaro is the only senior on this sophomore/junior-dominated team that is getting better with each match they play.
Michael Jelinski and Keusch have chipped in with two goals each for Colts Neck.
Only six players have scored goals for the Cougars this season and that is Collier’s biggest concern.
From here until the B North schedule concludes, Freehold and Colts Neck will try to take care of their own business and see if the other team slips up and opens the door to the division crown. In upcoming B North games, the Cougars will visit Long Branch on Oct. 6 and host Ocean Township on Oct. 11.
Colts Neck was the first team to score more than one goal on the veteran Freehold defense, which has been outstanding from game one.
Jason Lundy, at sweeper, and Hector Perez are the anchors of the defense that relies on goalie Anthony Vazzana to handle anything that gets past the back line.
Ryan Bailey, Rob Soto and Dan Marketta have been sparking the attack. The expected return of Patrick Mullin from an injury will give the Colonials’ offense a lift.
Freehold played at Monmouth Regional on Oct. 4 and will host Long Branch on Oct.13 in upcoming B North matches.
In the Shore ConferenceANorth Division, things are also playing out much like they did last year, with Howell (6-2) and Freehold Township (6-2) vying for the public school crown. Last year Howell won the public school crown and this year the two teams find themselves tied for first place.
Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft, a private school, has the inside track on the outrightANorth title. With a private school in the division, the conference also awards a public school title.
Freehold Township got back in the race with a 2-1 win at Howell on Sept. 22. As this week began, both teams had two A North losses. The rematch between the Patriots and the Rebels will be played on Oct. 12 in Freehold Township.
Greg Fedak and Nick Costelloe scored the first-half goals against Howell that stood up in Freehold Township’s win. Howell’s Kevin Kappock cut the lead in half with a goal in the second half, but the Rebels could not score the equalizer.
Fedak has been having the kind of breakout season coach Todd Briggs anticipated and is sparking an offense that has not been scoring a lot of goals. The most goals the Patriots have scored in a match is three, but with goalie Phil Horan and a veteran defense in front of him, the Patriots have scored just enough to win.
Horan, who already holds the career shutout record at Freehold Township, has added three more shutouts to his total this fall .
Russell Frasciello, Durum Fishta, Mike Matusaitis and Marc Franco, all seniors, are a big reason, along with Horan, why the Patriots have not allowed more than two goals in a match this year.
Howell graduated most of its starters from last year’s championship team, but the Rebels have shown no signs of being in a rebuilding mode this fall. Coach Rich Yuro expected scoring to be his team’s biggest concern, but in the early season that has not been a problem. Howell has scored three goals or more in six of its eight matches.
Jeremy Hoops, Colton Lambert, Drew Lyon, Chris Hill, Tom Cafiero and Kappock have been the scoring sparkplugs. Mike Eiras, Kappock and Brandon Kolcynski lead the defensive effort in front of returning keeper LukeWeber.