He lives and works in Toms River now, but Ed Leibe is glad he spent his youth in Hamilton Township and Mercer County.

He started out playing four sports but basketball, baseball and tennis took a backseat to the beautiful game he is still involved with today.

"I always favored soccer," said Leibe, a forward/midfield player who is an English teacher and the coach of the boys' team at Toms River High School South.

His best year at Steinert was his senior campaign when he was Mercer County Player of the Year and received state (No. 1 forward in N.J. and second player overall) and national (McDonald's, NSCAA and Adidas All-America) recognition. After serving as team captain and being named MVP of the county-champion squad, Leibe moved on to be a four-year starter at the Division I level two at North Carolina State University and two at the University of Maryland where he led the Terrapins to a national ranking of No. 8 as a senior.

Leibe has 200-plus wins as a high school soccer coach including a spectacular season in 2009, when he was named N.J. and Northeast Region Coach of the Year for leading the Indians, featuring his son as the goalie, to the Group IV state championship.

He credits his upbringing in Mercer County, and particularly Steinert, as the groundwork for his successful career.

"The pride and the tradition behind not only the soccer program but the whole school prepared me well," Leibe says. "I had a very good High School experience. I think that lends itself well to my life now."

His life now is that of a married father of three who has warm memories of playing for state champion youth (Mercer Sting) and adult (Hibernians Over-35) teams as well as several semi-pro teams along with his days at Steinert which he calls "a special time in my life."