Even by the lofty standards set by previous Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) girls soccer teams, 2015 was unforgettable.
On Nov. 21 at Kean University, Colts Neck High School and Freehold Township High School captured their first state championships.
From the start of the season, Doug Phillips’ Cougars seemed destined for greatness. They had all the components back from the team that had reached the NJSIAA Group III tile game in 2014 and were led by the remarkable Frankie Tagliaferri and a cast of standouts.
The Cougars marched through the season unbeaten at 24-0-1. It all culminated at the state championship finals, where they dethroned Northern Highlands Regional High School, 1-0, on Tagliaferri’s penalty kick and the sparkling play of goalie Lauren Feaster.
In all, Colts Neck won four championships — B North Division, Shore Conference Tournament, NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III and Group III — in 2015.
For Dave Patterson’s Patriots, 2015 was all about winning something. The seniors, led by Nicole Whitley, had won a lot in their careers, but they had no championship to show for it. That all changed on a rainsoaked pitch in the Central Jersey, Group IV finals, where the Patriots rallied from a 2-0 deficit at halftime to beat Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 3-2, on a header from Lacey Powell in the final half-minute of play.
Freehold Township carried that moment over to the Group IV tournament, defeating Shawnee High School, 1-0, on Whitley’s goal and tying undefeated Ridge High School, 0-0, in the state finals to win the Group III co-championship.
Colts Neck and Freehold Township made the Shore Conference an all-district affair, playing for the tournament crown won by Colts Neck, 1-0, on Tagliaferri’s goal.
Led by one of the most dynamic players in the state, Arianna Ferraro, Manalapan High School won the Shore Conference A North Division championship by outlasting Freehold Township. It was a fitting swan song for Ferraro and her fellow seniors, who, like the Patriots, had gone without a championship during their career.
Freehold High School was as competitive as ever, as was Howell High School. Howell handed Freehold Township its only A North losses. Both teams were postseason participants.
Tagliaferri, a forward, heads the News Transcript’s 2015 All-FRHSD Girls Soccer Team. Joining her at forward are Whitley, Ferraro, Freehold Township’s Jasmine Colbert, Howell’s Betty Feinstein and Manalapan’s Ariella Kaplan.
The midfielders are Colts Neck’s Allison Russo and Kayla Lee, Freehold Township’s Nicole Sasso and Lacey Powell, Freehold’s Ashley Latona and Emma Smith and Howell’s Nicolette Runko.
The defenders are Colts Neck’s Amanda Visco and Bridgette King, Howell’s Rebecca Hamilton, Freehold’s Jenna Huskey, Freehold Township’s Caleigh Farrell, Manalapan’s Brianna Waring and Marlboro’s Charis Chukuka.
The goalies are Feaster and Freehold Township’s Kaela Chadziutko.