2016-2017 Shore Sports Network Readers’ Choice Awards Vote
New for the 2016-2017 scholastic year Shore Sports Network will select individuals and teams in several categories for our first annual Shore Sports Network Readers' Choice Awards. That means you, our loyal fans and readers, will help decide the best of the best in the Shore Conference during the course of the past school year.
Below are voting polls for Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and Storyline of the Year. Read the bios for each nominee and cast your votes. The polls will be open for 10 days and close on July 20 at midnight. The winners will be announced right here on ShoreSportsNetwork.com on Thursday July 21.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Mike Husni, Sr., Toms River North football
The 2016 Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year, Husni turned in the greatest statistical season by a quarterback in Shore Conference history to lead the Mariners to the Class A South division title, the NJSIAA South Jersey Group V final and the final No. 1 ranking in the SSN Top 10. Husni threw for 2,027 yards and 25 touchdowns while also running for 1,618 yards and 19 touchdowns on 8.6 yards per carry. He is the first quarterback in Shore Conference history to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a season, and is believed to be the first quarterback in state history to throw and run for 1,000 yards each in three different seasons. His 44 total touchdowns this year tied the conference record set by Mater Dei Prep quarterback Christian Palmer in 2014. Husni threw for over 5,000 yards and rushed for nearly 4,500 yards in his career while scoring over 100 touchdowns to set multiple program records. Husni will continue his career at Marist College.
Matt Thorsheim, Sr., Christian Brothers Academy soccer
Since making an impact as a freshman starter for CBA, Thorsheim has been a model of consistency for the Colts. After winning the Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Award last year, Thorsheim followed up that performance with a nearly identical statistical season and, in turn, another Player of the Year Award in 2016. The senior center midfielder went from 12 goals and 21 assists last year to 14 goals and 21 assists in 2016. Beyond those two extra goals, the big difference between junior year and senior year for Thorsheim was the way it ended. CBA won the Non-Public A championship on Nov. 13 by beating Seton Hall Prep on Thorsheim’s game-winning goal in the 73rd minute.
Elliot Gindi, Sr., Ocean cross country/track and field
Gindi was a breakout star on both the course and the track this season, and started his phenomenal senior year by winning the Cross Country Meet of Champions with a 15:45 at Holmdel Park. He followed that up by placing fourth at the Foot Locker North East Regional in a time of 15:40 and running 15:46 to place 31st nationally at Foot Locker Nationals. Gindi also won the Monmouth County, Shore Conference, Central Jersey Group III and Group III championships. Indoors Gindi won the Shore Conference 1,600 in 4:24 and the Group III title in a personal-record 4:17. He placed second in the sectional meet and fifth at the Meet of Champions. Gindi had a monster spring season that culminated with him winning the 1,600-meter title at the Meet of Champions in a personal-best time of 4:09.14. Leading up to the M.O.C. he doubled with wins in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Group III meet, quadrupled at the sectional meeet with wins in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and anchoring Ocean's 4x800 squad, doubled at the Shore Conference Championships (1,600 and 3,200) and tripled at the Monmouth County Championships. He will continue his career at Northern Arizona.
Marvin Morgan, Sr., Neptune track and field
Morgan ran a 10.62 to set a meet record and win the Central Jersey Group III 100 meter title, then won the Group III crown and finished third at the Meet of Champions with a 10.73. He also captured the Shore Conference 100 meter title with a blistering 10.51, the third fastest time in New Jersey this season, and won the Monmouth County championship as well. In the 200, Morgan won Monmouth County and Shore Conference championships, placed third in Central Jersey Group III, second in Group III and sixth at the Meet of Champions. Indoors Morgan won the 55-meter dash at the Meet of Champions in 6.38 to complete a winter season where he won Monmouth County, Shore Conference, Central Jersey Group III and Group III titles, while also winning the Eastern States Championships in 6.43. Morgan will continue his career at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jake Benner, Jr., Ocean wrestling
The Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Year, Benner was the co-Most Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament where he won the 138-pound NJSIAA state title in epic fashion by hitting a five-point move in the third period to stun Bergen Catholic’s Gerard Angelo, 7-6. He set the program record for wins in a season by going 42-1, recording a Shore Conference-leading 29 pins plus three major decisions. His run to the state title included a 3-1 win over Don Bosco Prep’s Evan DeLuise in the quarterfinals and a pin in 1:54 over Cranford’s Tom DiGiovanni in the semifinals. He won his third district title by pinning Monmouth’s Tyler Flynn in the District 24 final. He dominated at the Region 6 Tournament to win his first title, pinning Wall’s Nick Wagner in 3:15. Benner also won the Kearny Holiday Tournament and the Mustang Classic. He verbally committed to Rutgers University following the season and will enter his season year with a 107-10 career record.
Eric Keoesseian, Sr., Howell wrestling
2017 was a dream season for the Rebels and Keosseian was front and center from start to finish. Keosseian became Howell’s third state champion in program history when he pinned Don Bosco Prep’s Peter Acciardi early in the second period to become Howell’s third state champion and first since Joey Langel in 2008. He finished the season with a 42-2 record, tying the program record for wins in a season. Among his victories were 22 wins by fall, two technical falls and four major decisions. He helped Howell to a banner season as the Rebels won the Class A North division title, the Shore Conference Tournament and, for the first time, an NJSIAA state title. It was Keosseian’s last-second takedown to win 4-3 over Victor Lacombe that fueled Howell’s 28-27 win over Hunterdon Central in the Group V final. That win also avenged Keosseian’s only loss in New Jersey, as Lacombe won 5-1 when the Red Devils beat the Rebels during the regular season. Keosseian’s only other loss was to Florida 3A state champ Chei Hill (South Dade) in the finals of the Chase Life Invitational. Keosseian won his second district championship when he defeated Northern Burlington’s Chris Ratti, 7-1, in the District 22 final and claimed his second Region 6 title by pinning Bordentown’s Jajuan Hayes in 1:26. He also won Paulsboro’s John and Betty Vogeding Tournament. A two-time state medalist and three state state qualifier, Keosseian’s 133 career wins are second all-time at Howell. He will continue his career at Army West Point.
Ashante Worthy, Jr., Freehold football
A switch to quarterback three games into the season ignited a record-setting season for Worthy, who accounted 2,904 yards of offense and 41 total touchdowns to lead the Colonials to the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals after an 0-4 start. Worthy ran for 2,066 yards and 30 touchdowns on an average of 8.3 yards per carry while also throwing for 838 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had a punt return for a touchdown and an interception return for a touchdown, and was also Freehold’s punter. He had several huge games this season, including four games of 288 yards rushing or more, but it was his performance in a playoff game against Pennsauken he’ll be most remembered for. In that 69-56 win that set the NJSIAA record for most combined points in a playoff game, Worthy broke the Shore Conference single-game rushing record and single-game touchdown record when he ran for 465 yards and 8 touchdowns on 43 carries and threw for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns. Worthy was selected as the Class A North Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches. He will be one of the marquee players in the Shore Conference next season.
Mike Gawlik, Sr., Jackson Memorial football
Gawlik concluded his outstanding career by re-writing the Jaguars’ record book, rushing for a Shore Conference-best 2,129 yards and 24 touchdowns on an average of 7.9 yards per carry to lead Jackson Memorial to the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals. Gawlik also had two receiving touchdowns and was tied for second in the Shore in total points with 156. He ran for over 100 yards in 10 of 11 games and had five games of 200 yards rushing or more, including two 300-plus yard games. He ran for a season-high 320 yards and three touchdowns against Toms River South and 312 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 41 carries in a win over Old Bridge. Gawlik is also a standout defensive back for the Jaguars. He is the Jaguars’ all-time leading single-season and career rushing leader as well as the leader in career touchdowns and touchdowns in a season. Gawlik is a three-time first-team All-Shore selection.
Bryan Antoine, So., Ranney basketball
The 2016-2017 Shore Sports Network Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Antoine averaged 21 points per game with 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 3.7 steals, and 81.9 free-throw percentage and a 3-point percentage of 58% to lead the Panthers to their first SCT semifinals appearance in program history.
During the postseason, Antoine averaged 24.2 points, including the 33-point performance against Middletown North in the SCT quarterfinals, when he became the first sophomore in Shore Conference history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. Antoine then capped his season with a 21-point effort against Patrick School – the eventual Tournament of Champions winner – in a 10-point Ranney loss.
Antoine is gearing up for a big summer with respect to his college recruitment, which is still relatively wide-open with suitors ranging from the locals like Rutgers and Seton Hall to national programs like Kansas and Kentucky. He will enter his junior season with 1,105 career points, putting Antoine in position to become the first Shore Conference player to reach the 2,000-point mark since Central’s Jermaine Clay in 1990 and perhaps even challenge the all-time Shore mark of 2,302 set by Norman Caldwell of now-defunct Cordon Hall.
Andrew Lazarchick, Sr., Brick Memorial bowling
Lazarchick was a first-team all-state selection and led New Jersey with a 232 average in the regular season. He captured the Shore Conference Tournament individual title with a 245-212 win over St. Rose's Joe Ocello and also won the Roll with the Indians Tournament with a 744 series.
Liam Cosgrove, Sr., St. Rose swimming
Cosgrove won the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in the 100 butterfly with a meet-record 48.68. He also won the Shore Conference title in 49.73 and claimed the Monmouth County championship in 50.94.
Shane Haviland, Sr., Wall ice hockey
Haviland scored 36 goals with 19 assist for 55 points in just 21 games to help Wall to its best season in program history. He had seven goals to fuel the Crimson Knights' run to their first ever Shore Conference Dowd Cup Tournament championship. Wall also reached the NJSIAA Non-Public B championship game for the first time in program history where Haviland scored twice in an upset of Roxbury and exploded for four goals and two assists in a state semifinals win over Middletown South. Haviland concluded his career with 85 goals and 49 assists.
Tommy Sheehan, Sr., Manasquan baseball
A Notre Dame recruit, Sheehan was selected as the Shore Sports Network Baseball Player of the Year after helping the Warriors capture the NJSIAA Group II crown for the first time since 1986. As a pitcher Sheehan went 6-2 with a 1.04 earned run average, surrendering just 29 hits in 54 innings pitched while striking out 86. Sheehan was also a difference-maker at the plate, batting .474 with three home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.353 OPS.
Jarrett Birch, Sr., Manasquan lacrosse
The 2017 SSN of the Year, Birch led New Jersey with 86 goals while adding 19 assists for 105 points to help Manasquan to a 21-2 record and the Shore Conference Tournament championship. Birch had a whopping 12 points on nine goals and three assists in a win over Lacey and had seven goals in wins over St. John Vianney and Wall. Birch had three goals and two assists in an 11-8 win over eventual Tournament of Champions finalist Moorestown, scored five goals in a win over Ridge and had a combined 11 goals in four games against Rumson-Fair Haven and CBA. He is Manasquan’s all-time leading scorer with 266 goals and 85 assists for 351 points. His 266 goals are third all-time in New Jersey. A first-team All-Shore and first-team Class B South selection, as well as the division Player of the Year, Birch will continue his career at Division I Furman University.
Eitan Khromchenko, Fr., Marlboro tennis
Khromchenko went 17-1 in dual matches and was unbeaten against Shore Conference opponents, reaching the third round of the NJSIAA singles tournament and helping Marlboro capture the Shore Conference Tournament title. His 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over CBA's Connor Nelson helped the Mustangs to a 3-2 win over the Colts in the SCT final.
Jack Wall, So., CBA golf
Wall helped lead the Colts to their first NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title since 2013 by shooting a one-under par 71 where he also scored an eagle to defeat teammate Chris Gotterup in a playoff hole for the Non-Public A title. Wall also won the Monmouth County tournament with a 72 and the Non-Public South A tournament with a 74.
Brennan Davis, Sr., Southern volleyball
The setter for the top boys volleyball program in New Jersey, Davis helped the Rams to their second straight state title and sixth NJSIAA championship overall when they defeated Fair Lawn 25-13, 25-18. Davis had 824 assists, 59 kills, 43 blocks, 177 digs and 38 aces in 2017 and finished his career with 1,812 assists, 118 kills, 106 blocks, 506 digs and 75 aces, all while helping Southern win three NJSIAA state titles. he will continue his career at Belmont Abbey College.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Alyssa Wilson, Sr., Donovan Catholic track and field
One of the most accomplished throwers in Shore Conference, state and national history, Wilson completed a record-setting career by winning two Meet of Champions titles in the shot put, one in the discus and earning a pair of national records. Wilson set the national indoor record in the shot put when she threw 57-5.5 at the Eastern's and won a national indoor championships with a throw of 54-5.25. In the outdoor season Wilson set the national high school shot put record with a throw of 57-1 1/4 at the Ocean County Championships. She also set the state record in the discus with a throw of 182-0 at the Rowan Open. She won the indoor M.O.C. in the shot put and the outdoor titles in both the shot put and the discus. She will continue her career at UCLA.
Lilly Croddick, Jr., Rumson-Fair Haven field hockey
Croddick scored 44 goals and added 19 assists to help the Bulldogs claim the Shore Conference Tournament title. Committed to Stanford, Croddick will enter her senior season with 115 goals and 40 assists.
Frankie Tagliaferri, Sr., Colts Neck soccer
Despite missing half of the season to play for the United States under-17 team in the FIFA World Cup, Tagliaferri concluded a brilliant career by scoring 22 goals and leading Colts Neck to its second straight Shore Conference Tournament championship. Tagliaferri, who will play at Penn State, scored twice in the SCT semifinals and scored twice again in a 3-0 win over Freehold Township in the SCT championship game. She concluded her career with 81 goals and 41 assists and will go down as one of the best players in Shore Conference history.
Dara Mabrey, Jr., Manasquan basketball
The Gatorade New Jersey Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Mabrey averaged 19.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game for a Manasquan team that reached the Shore Conference Tournament final and the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final. She had four games with 30 or more points, including 33 against T.O.C. and SCT semifinalist Red Bank Catholic and 31 against New York power Long Island Lutheran, 30 against Rumson-Fair Haven and a career-high 34 against Newark Tech in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II semifinals. Mabrey also scored her 1,000th career point.
Niamh Hayes, Sr., Howell cross country/track and field
Hayes was exceptional in all three seasons for the Rebels, starting with a sixth place finish at the NJSIAA Cross Country Meet of Champions in a time of 18:55. In the fall she also won the Monmouth County title in 18:54, took third at the Shore Conference meet, placed second in Central Jersey Group IV and ran a school-record 18:30 to finish fourth at the NJSIAA Group IV meet. During the indoor season Hayes won the M.O.C. in the 3,200 with a state-best time of 10:31.98 and also placed first at the Shore Conference, South Jersey Group IV and Group IV meets. Hayes also ran the 1,600 and was first at the Monmouth County, Shore Conference and South Jersey Group IV meets. In the outdoor season Hayes ran 10:36.74 to finish second in the 3,200 at the Group IV meet. She then placed third at the M.O.C. She will continue her career at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nicolette DiPrisco, Jr., Red Bank Catholic gymnastics
The NJSIAA All-Around individual champion, DiPricso also helped RBC capture its third consecutive and 11th NJSIAA team state championships overall while setting records along the way. DiPrisco also won the NJSIAA title in the floor exercise. During the team state championship meet DiPrisco was second in the all-around, first on balance beam, second on bars and sixth on vault. In the Central Jersey sectional meet she set the school record with a 9.8 on the beam. She also set the Shore Conference meet record on the floor with a 9.775 which helped the Caseys to a fourth straight conference crown.
Brianna Gibbs, Sr., Holmdel tennis
Gibbs helped Holmdel win its fifth consecutive Shore Conference Tournament title and reach the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final for the third straight season. She was undefeated in team play up until a loss to Milburn's Stephanie Schrage, the NJSIAA singles champion. Holmdel's only loss as a team was to Milburn in the state final. Gibbs was 2-1 against the Shore's other top play, Shore Regional's Halah Davis.
Dani Jankauskas, Sr., St. John Vianney volleyball
Jankauskas set the school record for single-season kills with 269 and registered 116 digs to lead the Lancers to their second Shore Conference Tournament title in a row. St. John Vianney finished 27-3 and did not lose a game within the Shore while also reaching the NJSIAA Non-Public A semifinals.
Aimee Sherman, Sr., Jackson Memorial bowling
Sherman defeated Toms River North's Kamerin Peters, 194-192, in the final round of the individual state tournament to capture the NJSIAA state title. She also entered the record book in the second round of qualifying by becoming the first girl in state history to roll a 300 in the state individual tournament. Along the way Sherman finished second in the Shore Conference Tournament and third in the South Jersey sectional meet. She finished tied for the state lead with a 215 average. Sherman will continue her career at bowling powerhouse Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Caroline Gmelich, Sr., Trinity Hall
Gmelich helped elevate Trinity Hall to the top team in the Shore Conference and one of the top programs in the state with a tremendous senior season. An all-stater in the 100 backstroke, Gmelich won the Meet of Champions in the event with a time of 55.09 and had a 200 medley relay split of 25.88 that was the fastest at the M.O.C. She also set the Shore Conference record in the 100 back with a 55.87. Gmelich also raced on the Monarchs' 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams which captured gold at the Shore Conference Championships.
Demi Rivera, Sr., St. John Vianney softball
A fist-team All-State selection, Rivera sported a 0.66 ERA with just 12 earned runs in 126 2/3 innings to help St. John Vianney to another big season. Rivera also hit .484 with 13 extra-base hits, 30 runs scored and 31 RBI as the Lancers won the Class A Central division title, an eighth straight Monmouth County Tournament title and the Shore Conference Tournament crown.
Elizabeth Scarrone, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven
A Vanderbilt University signee, Scarrone scored 72 goals with 34 assists for 106 points to help lead Rumson to its fifth straight Shore Conference Tournament title. She recorded her 100th career goal and 100th career assist during the season and finished her career with 270 points on 163 goals and 107 assists. She was a second-team All-State selection.
COACH OF THE YEAR
In his final season at Wall, Curcione guided the Crimson Knights to a 10-2 record and the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III sectional title for the program's first state championship since 2002. This came after Wall sent 3-7 in 2014 and 4-6 in 2015. Click on Curcione's name above to reach more about Wall's state championship football season.
Dortissant guided the Blue Bishop to a dream season that culminated with them winning the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I sectional title for their first sectional championship since 1981. Asbury Park finished 18-4-1 one season after going 5-12. Click on Dortissant's name above to read more about Asbury Park's special season.
The Rebels had the best season in program history, capped by winning the NJSIAA Group V title in epic fashion to claim the program's first state championship and secure the final piece of hardware for a dominant grappling program. Howell won the Class A North title for the 12th straight season, won the second Shore Conference Tournament championship and also had an individual state champion crowned when senior Eric Keosseian won the NJSIAA 220-pound title. Click on Gagliano's name above to read more about his accomplishments this season.
Preston's work in taking over a program that faced possible extinction four years ago came to a head this season as the Purple Roses went 11-7 to set a program single-season record for wins while also scoring the biggest upset in the history of the Shore Conference Tournament. The 14th-seeded Roses won an 8-7 thriller over No. 3 Southern in the first round that sent shockwaves through the Shore Conference. Click on Preston's name above to read more about St. Rose's bounce-back season.
Jim Schlentz/Joe Lykes, Colts Neck cross country
Shelentz, the boys head coach and go-head girls coach, along with co-head girls coach Lykes molded the top combined boys and girls cross country unit in New Jersey this season. Both the boys and girls teams won NJSIAA group championships at Holmdel Park as the boys won their first group title with a 41-67 win over defending champion Indian Hills in Group III. The girls won their fourth overall state title and first since 2006 with an 84-111 win over Northern Highlands. The girls also won the Monmouth County and Shore Conference crowns and finished sixth at the Meet of Champions. The boys finished second at the Meet of Champions.
Joanne Luciano, Middletown South gymnastics
The Eagles blossomed into one of the top gymnastics teams in the Shore and made noise at the state level during Luciano's 16th season. Middletown South went 9-3 after going 7-8 in 2015 and finished fourth at the NJSIAA championship meet. The Eagles also finished second at the Shore Conference meet behind overall state champions Red Bank Catholic and placed third in the Central Jersey sectional tournament.
Mike Juska, Wall girls soccer
Wall finally broke through to win its first NJSIAA Group championship when it played to scoreless tie against state powerhouse Northern Highlands to earn a share of the NJSIAA Group III title. Wall also reached the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament where the Crimson Knights fell to eventual champion Colts Neck. Wall won the Class B North division title, the Central Jersey Group III title for the program's first sectional title since 1998 and finished the season 24-1-1. They outscored their opponents 86-7.
Marlboro had the best season in program history, going 18-7 and reaching the Shore Conference Tournament final for the first time in program history. Included in their tremendous postseason run was a 50-47 upset over Ranney in the SCT semifinals when Ranney was ranked No. 6 in New Jersey. Click on Nausedas' name above to read more about Marlboro's all-time season.
In Whalen's final season at the Belmar school, the Purple Roses went 26-4 and captured the Shore Conference Tournament title, beating Manasquan and St. John Vianney in the process. St. Rose also reached the NJSIAA Non-Public B semifinals. Read more about Whalen and St. Rose by clicking on his name above.
Mired in a stretch of losing seasons for over a decade, Southern completely turned it round this year and ended a 50-year state championship drought by capturing the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV title for its first sectional championship since 1967. This all happened as the No. 11 seed. Southern finished with 18 wins and also reached the final of the Ocean County Tournament. Click on Cucuzza's name above to read more about Southern's historic season.
Eric Maxwell, Southern boys volleyball
Maxwell has built a dynasty at Southern since 2009 with an incredible six state championships and nine straight state finals appearances. This season the Rams won their second straight NJSIAA title with a 25-13, 25-18 win over Fair Lawn, another of New Jersey's volleyball powerhouses.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
The Colts captured the Shore Conference Tournament title and won the program's sixth NJSIAA Non-Public A title, finishing No. 1 in the SSN Top 10 and with a 24-1 record.
The Colts won the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions with a 297 at Hopewell Valley Golf Club. They also won the Monmouth County Tournament with a 298 and shot a 313 to win the Shore Conference Tournament. CBA finished with a 16-0 record in dual matches.
Toms River North football
The Mariners won the Class A South division title outright and reached the NJSIAA South Jersey Group V final for the second straight year, but had their perfect season ended by Millville, 22-16, in the championship game. Toms River North’s offense was unstoppable up until that point and averaged a Shore Conference-best 44.3 points per game. Senior quarterback Mike Husni led the way by throwing for 2,027 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushing for 1,618 yards and 19 touchdowns. Senior running back Parker Day added 1,516 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns while seniors Darrion Carrington and Bryce Watts formed the most dangerous wide receiver duo in the Shore. Carrington caught 35 passes for 927 yards and a Shore-best 15 touchdowns while Watts had 33 catches for 798 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior linebacker Pete LaQuaglia led the Shore Conference in tackles with 168.
The Mariners scored 40 or more points in nine of 12 games, went over 50 points five times and topped 60 points twice. They beat Central Jersey Group IV finalist Brick 62-34 in Week 3 and topped South Jersey Group V semifinalist Howell 58-33 in the regular season and 62-34 in the playoffs. On October 21 the Mariners were ranked No. 2 in the Shore and headed to face No. 1 Middletown South in a marquee matchup, and North came away with a 41-21 win.
Mater Dei Prep football
The Seraphs won their first state championship and finished 12-0 with an ending straight out of Hollywood as senior wide receiver Eddie Lewis took a lateral from Kyle Devaney on a trick play hook-and-lateral and scored with three seconds left to give Mater Dei a 26-0 win over Holy Spirit in the Non-Public Group II championship game.
That was the first time Mater Dei had been tested all season. The Seraphs detonated every team in their path en route to reaching the final, including an eye-opening 26-0 shutout of seven-time defending champion St. Joseph (Hammonton) in the semifinals. The Seraphs had a 42-6 win over Central Jersey Group I champion Asbury Park and a 35-7 win over Central Jersey Group I finalist Keyport. They also defeated Shore 42-7.
Junior quarterback George Pearson threw for 1,426 yards and had 28 total touchdowns on his way to being named Class B Central Offensive Player of the Year. Senior linebacker Marvin Pierre led the No. 1 defense in the Shore at 5.8 points per game and as selected as the B Central Defensive Player of the Year. Lewis had 24 catches for 547 yards and 13 touchdowns and Devaney had 23 catches for 461 yards and eight touchdowns.
Wall girls soccer
The Crimson Knights won their first NJSIAA group title by tying state power Northern Highlands, 0-0, to earn a share of the Group III title. Wall also won its first sectional title since 1998 and reached the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.
Mater Dei Prep basketball
While other teams played deeper into the season, the Seraphs were the clear No. 1 team in the conference this season, particularly once junior Kyle Cardaci became eligible in mid-January. With Cardaci in the lineup, Mater Dei went 16-1 with its only loss a South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinal loss to the Patrick School. Not only did Mater Dei have to play the No. 1 team in the state in their second game of the state tournament, but they had to do so without senior forward and Princeton signee Elijah Barnes, who broke a bone in his right forearm in a first-round win over Gloucester Catholic. It was a less-than-ideal ending to another banner season for Mater Dei, which is 51-6 over the last two years with two Shore Conference Tournament titles.
The Colts continued their local dominance by winning their 27th(!) straight Shore Conference championship and reaching the Non-Public A final.
Rumson-Fair Haven boys lacrosse
The Bulldogs edged Manasquan to finish No. 1 in the SSN Top 10, thanks to a 5-4 win over Manasquan in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II final. Rumson rolled to the Class B North division title and finished ranked top 10 in New Jersey.
Manasquan boys lacrosse
The Warriors completed the best season in program history and turned in arguably the best all-around season of any boys lacrosse team in Shore Conference history. Manasquan won the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time in program history with a thrilling 8-7 win over defending champion Rumson-Fair Haven. The Warriors boasted an impressive nonconference resume, including a win over eventual Tournament of Champions finalist Moorestown.
Rumson-Fair Haven girls lacrosse
The Bulldogs ran through the Shore Conference again to win their fifth consecutive Shore Conference Tournament title and sixth championship overall. Rumson also reached the NJSIAA Group II semifinals.
The only thing missing from Howell's trophy case was an NJSIAA group title, and the Rebels snatched it up this season with a legendary 28-27 win over Hunterdon Central to capture the NJSIAA Group IV state championships. Howell also won the Class A North division title and the Shore Conference Tournament title, had three state medalists including 220-pound state champion Eric Keosseian and finished ranked top five in New Jersey.
Toms River North baseball
The No. 1 team in the SSN Top 10, the Mariners won the Ocean County Tournament and the Shore Conference Tournament while finishing with a 20-7 record. Toms River North had wins over the teams ranked No. 2 through No. 5 en route to the OCT and SCT championships.
A dynasty in southern Ocean County, the Rams won the NJSIAA state championship for the second year in a row and sixth time overall since 2009. Southern has reached an incredible nine consecutive state championship matches and has dominated the Shore Conference each year.
Wall ice hockey
The Crimson Knights captured their first Shore Conference Tournament title by winning the SCT Dowd Cup and advanced to the NJSIAA Public B final for their first state finals appearance in program history.
Trinity Hall girls swimming
The Monarchs announced themselves as one of the top programs in the state when they won the Shore Conference Championships for the first time in program history.
STORYLINE OF THE YEAR
A special needs student at Brick Memorial, David Richards got the win of a lifetime when he pinned Middletown North's Richie Wall in an exhibition match. Click the link above to read more about the incredible moment and show of sportsmanship between Richards and Wall.
Donovan Catholic wrestler Brandon Gonzalez collapsed and was unconscious during a match with Toms River North, but quick action by several people including Lakewood athletic trainer Pat Halpin, Donovan head coach Steve Glawson and Toms River North assistants Josh Huber and John DeMarco helped revive Gonzalez and prevent a tragedy. Gonzalez was released from the hospital shortly after and Halpin, Glawson, Huber and DeMarco were honored during the NJSIAA Group Wrestling Championships at Pine Belt Arena. Click the headline link to read more.
Mater Dei Prep's football team had never won a state title in its history before completing a 12-0 season thanks to a trick play in the final seconds of the NJSIAA Non-Public Group II final.
Freehold junior quarterback Ashante Worthy went nuclear in a historic playoff game against Pennsauken to break the Shore Conference record for rushing yards and touchdowns in a game.
The Year of P.J. Ringel at Marlboro
Marlboro boys soccer and boys basketball boy enjoyed historically good seasons and one of the common threads was senior P.J. Ringel. The senior led the soccer team with 21 goals - the second-highest total in the Shore Conference - and the basketball team with 13.3 points per game. Under the direction of Ringel, as well as classmate Ryan LaRocca, both Mustangs teams reached the finals of the Shore Conference Tournament. The soccer team lost to CBA, then reached the final of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV playoffs while the basketball team knocked off a talented Ranney squad in the SCT semifinals before losing to Mater Dei in the final.
While the Marlboro story was compelling enough based on the action on the playing field, it became even more gripping following the Mustangs' loss to CBA in the SCT final. The following morning, Ringel lost his father, Jack, in an automobile accident. The soccer team honored Jack Ringel prior to its next game - a first-round state tournament game vs. Colts Neck - and two days after losing his father, Ringel scored the game-winning goal in overtime to cap a two-goal performance as Marlboro beat the Cougars. Marlboro won its next two games in overtime, with Ringel again scoring the winner in a sectional semifinal win over Manalapan.
The record books will show Marlboro won a school-record 20 games in soccer and reached the SCT final for the first time ever in boys basketball. The story, of course, is much more than that. Two groups of players rallied around Ringel and the school rallied around the teams as they embarked on one of the year's feel-good runs.
CBA Chases Soccer Immortality
The thought of any CBA soccer team earning comparisons to the 2011 team that went 21-0 and won the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship was unthinkable heading into the fall of 2016 and the current Colts wanted only to win the same championships that the 2011 squad won. In chasing a second straight Shore Conference Tournament title and the first state title since that 2011 group, the 2016 Colts reached a level of excellence worthy of the very comparison that seemed far-fetched in August. CBA finished the year 24-1, losing just one game to Marlboro with standout center fullback Scott Misson out while serving a red card suspension. The Colts set a single-season school record with 86 goals, rolled to the program's 10th SCT title and captured the Non-Public A crown for the sixth time by beating Seton Hall Prep, 1-0.
Southern Baseball is Back
The Southern baseball team made headlines by reaching the Ocean County Tournament championship game for the first time since the early 1980's, but it turned out the Rams were just getting started. Playing in the NJSIAA Tournament for the first time in more than a decade, Southern made the most of the opportunity by winning four straight games - including three on the road - to win the South Jersey Group IV championship. The sectional title was the first for Southern's baseball program since it won the Central Jersey Group II championship in 1967.
Southern won extra-inning road games over both Vineland and Egg Harbor and defeated Lenape on the road in the championship game. The Rams also defeated Toms River North - the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - twice during Shore Conference Class A South divisional play. Southern's 18-10 season came to an end with a loss to Hunterdon Central in the Group IV semifinal.
Asbury Park Soccer Makes History
It had been 25 years since Asbury Park boys soccer had won an NJSIAA sectional title and the program had rarely been relevant during that time. This past fall changed all that, as the Blue Bishops orchestrated their best season in a quarter-century by running away with the Class B Central championship and winning the Central Jersey Group I title - the first sectional crown for the program since 1981. Asbury Park finished the year 18-4-1, went 12-0 in divisional play, earned the No. 1 seed in the section and proved worthy of it by winning the sectional championship on its home field.
The Blue Bishops made history with a team made up of players who embraced challenges and adversity. The roster is comprised mostly of Haitian immigrants, including head coach Jean Dortissant. The group put in work on the field, served their community off of it, and when they returned to action in August of 2016, they were unrecognizable from the team that went 5-12 in 2015 with almost the exact same roster. So when standout goalkeeper Joey Johnson left the championship game with a head injury just minutes after the opening whistle, the Blue Bishops moved junior midfielder and team captain Widmaier Beaubrun to the net, rallied around their captain, and beat Palmyra 1-0.
Manasquan Goes From Ordinary to Extraordinary
The Manasquan baseball team entered the NJSIAA Tournament with a 10-10 record on on a 1-6 slide. The Warriors, however, had a pitching duo that gave them an advantage over the rest of the Group II field and they rode those two senior hurlers - Tommy Sheehan and Connor Muly - to a six-game run that ended with Manasquan capturing the overall Group II championship. Sheehan and Muly both went 3-0 during the run, with Muly beating defending Group II champion West Deptford, 1-0, in the South Jersey Group II final and Whippany Park, 7-3, in the state final. Sheehan came through with a 13-strikeout game in round one, a 14-strikeout game in the sectional semifinals and defeated Central Jersey Group II champion, Governor Livingston, 2-1, in the Group II semifinal at Rowan.
When freshman shortstop Will Hopkinson threw to first for the final out of Muly's complete game win in the state final at Toms River East, it marked Manasquan's first Group II championship since 1986 - which was also the last time Manasquan won a sectional title prior to 2017.
Boys Basketball ‘Haven’
The Rumson-Fair Haven boys basketball team graduated its all-time leading scorer in June of 2016 and missed its most imposing returning player for all but four games in 2016-17, but that did not stop the Bulldogs from making history. With just one starter back from its 2015-16 team, Rumson won its first sectional title since 1973 by winning the Central Jersey Group II crown. The season started with uncertainty considering that all-time leading scorer Brendan Barry was at Brown University and 6-7 junior shot-blocking machine Elijah McAllister was on the mend from a torn ACL. Despite that, Rumson began the season 11-0 and its first loss was a near-upset of a powerful Roselle Catholic squad.
McAllister returned and appeared like the final piece to a dangerous Rumson team heading into the postseason, but went down with a torn ACL - this time in his other knee. The loss was an emotional one for the Bulldogs, but they once again demonstrated their resilience by reaching the sectional final thanks to an overtime win over Manasquan in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals. Playing in front of their home crowd in the sectional final, the Bulldogs held off Governor Livingston to complete the state title run - the final win in a 24-3 season.
Manasquan-St. Rose Girls Basketball Rivalry Builds
The Manasquan and St. Rose girls basketball teams both spent most of the season at or near the top of the statewide rankings and clashed on two occasions. The first was a regular-season showdown at St. Rose, which Manasquan won in overtime after junior Dara Mabrey hit a game-tying three-pointer just before the fourth-quarter buzzer. St. Rose got its revenge in the Shore Conference Tournament, beating the Warriors in overtime in the SCT semifinals on the way to a conference championship.
St. Rose was tripped up by Rutgers Prep in the Non-Public B playoffs, but Manasquan managed to reach the Tournament of Champions final for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season. The Warriors played a memorable championship game against Franklin in Trenton, but came out on the wrong side of a classic when freshman Kennedy Schenck hit a shot as the final buzzer sounded. The shot ended Manasquan's bid for a third Tournament of Champions title in six years and the loss was an unfitting end to another landmark year for the program, which included another Group II title and a Gatorade N.J. Player of the Year for Mabrey.
Manchester Girls Basketball Wins First Ever Sectional Title in a Thriller
With a mostly-young roster heading into the season, the Manchester girls basketball team knew the future was bright. Few people, even those within the program, could have seen that bright future arriving so soon. Manchester made it all the way to the South Jersey Group II final, earning a trip to play top-seeded Middle Township. With her team trailing by two in the final seconds, Dejah Adams - one of the few seniors on the roster - calmly buried a go-ahead three-pointer with three seconds left and the Hawks shocked the Panthers to win the first sectional title in program history. With a talented wave of underclassmen led by freshman Kemari Reynolds, Manchester is sure to build on its 24-win, championship season in 2016-17.
Frankie Returns to Lead Colts Neck Girls Soccer to the SCT Crown
The Colts Neck girls soccer team was prepared to play most of the 2016 season without star forward Frankie Tagliaferri, who traveled with the youth national team to Jordan for the U-17 World Cup in September. Unfortunately for the Tagliaferri and her national team, the U.S. did not make it out of pool play, which was good news for her team back home. Tagliaferri returned just before the start of the Shore Conference Tournament and scored six goals in her only three regular-season games. It turned out to just be a warm-up act for the SCT, which saw the Penn State recruit net 12 goals in four tournament games to lead the Cougars to a second straight conference title.
In just 10 games during her senior year, Tagliaferri scored 22 goals and eight assists to cap a dominant four-year run in which Colts Neck won its first two SCT titles and an overall Group III championship in 2015.
Three Girls Soccer Teams Bring State Titles to the Shore
Shore Regional captured its second straight Group I championship in 2016, this time jumping out early and holding on to beat Glen Ridge in the state final after winning in overtime in 2015. Meanwhile, Wall and Red Bank Catholic both shared state titles by playing to a draw in their respective group finals.
RBC's run to the Non-Public A co-title with Oak Knoll was somewhat unexpected given the Caseys were one game above .500 heading into the tournament, but not improbable given the injuries the Caseys had to wait out while making it to the state tournament.
Wall was the Shore's most consistent team all year and its only loss came in the SCT semifinals to Colts Neck, which got two goals from Frankie Tagliaferri in a 2-1 Cougars win. The Crimson Knights stared down Group III powerhouse Northern Highlands in the state final and battled the Highlanders to a scoreless draw over 100 minutes to finish off a 24-1-1 season with a Group III co-title. Wall returns a wealth of its 2016 talent and projects to be one of the states top teams again in the fall of 2017.
Rumson became just the third program in Shore Conference history to win fourth consecutive NJSIAA sectional titles when it defeated South Plainfield, 27-22, to claim the Central Jersey Group III title at Rutgers University. The Bulldogs join the Middletown South teams that won four in a row from 2003-2006 and the Manasquan dynasty that won a Shore Conference-record five in a row from 1998-2002.