Boys Soccer – 2014 All-Shore Teams
Ryan Hammer, Sr., Manalapan
Last year, Hammer found a home at the top of Manalapan’s formation and has been, arguably, the best player in the Shore Conference since. Coach John Natoli has run one-forward formations when he has scorers like Hammer, and all Manalapan did once Hammer moved up top was win a Shore Conference Tournament, two Class A North titles and an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship this past season. After scoring a respectable 10 goals last season, Hammer went off for 20 this season to go with 10 assists. He opened the season by scoring 11 in the team’s first five games and after a dry spell during the middle of the season, he poured in six goals in Manalapan’s first six postseason games, including two-goal games against both Toms River East in the Shore Conference Tournament and Freehold in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Tournament.
Blake Czajkowski, Sr., Central
One of two players in the Shore Conference to score 20 goals in each of the past two seasons, Czajkowski was voted the top player in Ocean County by the coaches in Class A South and Class B South. The senior striker racked up 25 goals and 13 assists in 17 games for the Golden Eagles this season and was the model of consistency when it came to scoring. He scored in 14 of the 17 games in which he played, including nine straight to open the season. Czajkowski tallied his lone hat trick of the season in a 5-1 win over Pinelands on Oct. 2 and scored two goals in seven other games. While Czajkowski did feast on the three bottom teams in Class B South (10 goals in five games vs. Lakewood, Barnegat and Manchester), he also scored two goals apiece against Toms River East, Brick and Shore outside the division. The two goals against Shore – the No. 5 team in the conference to wrap up the season – both gave Central a one-goal lead at different points of the second half. A four-year starter, Czajkowski finishes his career with 62 varsity goals.
Justin Gilson, Sr., Red Bank
Along with Czajkowski, Gilson is one of the two players in the Shore Conference to score 20-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. After beginning his high school career as a defender, the senior forward followed up a 20-goal season as a junior in 2013 with a 25-goal campaign this year. Gilson notched three hat tricks this season, including one at home under the lights against Colts Neck on Sept. 23. He also scored three goals in two games against Class B North champion Wall – both Red Bank wins. Wall shut out its opponent 12 times this season and held Long Branch striker Guilherme DeNovaes (23 goals) to one goal in four meetings, but allowed two to Gilson in the first meeting and another in the second between the two division rivals. Gilson also flipped the switch in the NJSIAA Tournament, scoring three goals and registering an assist during the Bucs’ run to the Central Jersey Group III final. He also scored two goals in a 6-3 loss to Marlboro in Red Bank’s lone Shore Conference Tournament game, giving Gilson five goals in five postseason games.
Guilherme DeNovaes, Sr., Long Branch
With a clean bill of health in 2014, DeNovaes made up for lost time by scoring 23 goals in his lone season at Long Branch. After transferring from Monmouth Regional prior to the 2013-14 school year and tearing his ACL in the 2013 preseason, DeNovaes finally laced his boots for the Green Wave this past season and was a scoring force. In his first game with the team, he lit up Rumson for five goals in a 5-1 Long Branch win to open the season and scored 12 goals in Long Branch’s first seven games. The five-goal outburst was the first of two hat tricks this season for DeNovaes, who also scored three goals in a 4-2 win over Red Bank Catholic on Oct. 15. He scored in 12 of Long Branch’s 20 games, recorded six mult-goal games and scored a goal in three of Long Branch’s four postseason tournament games, all of which were on the road. He scored the lone goal in a Central Jersey Group III road win over Wall and also scored a goal in the ensuing loss to Hightstown in the quarterfinals. Despite losing his junior year to the knee injury, DeNovaes finished his high school career with 31 goals between Monmouth and Long Branch.
Kevin Simek, Sr., Brick Memorial
Since a run to the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals in 2008, the tradition-rich Brick Memorial boys soccer program lost its way and was not a factor in Class A South or Central Jersey during a five-year drought. This year’s senior class began the climb back to relevance in the Shore Conference with a respectable showing last year as juniors and its first winning season since 2008 this year. Simek was at the heart of the Mustangs' operation, reflected in his 15 goals and 13 assists from the central midfield. Simek had four multi-goal games, including one hat trick, and put his best foot forward in Brick Memorial’s two NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV playoff games. He scored two goals in a 3-1 first-round win over Sayreville and had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss to Manalapan that Brick Memorial led 2-1 early in the second half. Over the past two seasons, Simek has accumulated 25 goals and 21 assists.
J.T. Kessler, Jr., Shore
The Shore Conference leader in goals (39), total points (92) and hat tricks (5) was primarily a forward, but Kessler checked back to the middle of the formation enough to slide into a midfield spot on the All-Shore First Team. Kessler’s dominant scoring season really took off with two goals in a crucial 3-0 win over Ocean, a victory that solidified the Blue Devils as a legitimate top team in the Shore Conference despite playing in a Class B Central division comprised of Group I schools. Of his five hat tricks, only two of them came against teams in B Central, while two of them were during Shore’s NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I championship run. He scored four goals in a game three times, once against Asbury Park, another in a non-division game against Rumson and once more in a 5-0 win over East Brunswick Tech in the Central Jersey Group I quarterfinals. In three varsity seasons, Kessler has amassed 56 goals and 21 assists and could possibly make a run at 100 career goals during his senior season in 2015.
Adam Weisberger, Sr., Manalapan
After an injury-filled junior season, Weisberger was an ironman in the middle of the field for the Shore Conference’s best team. With Hammer isolated up top, Weisberger controlled the middle of the field on the ground and in the air and elevated his game in Manalapan’s most important matches. Weisberger scored the lone goal in Manalapan’s Central Jersey Group IV championship victory over Monroe and also added another goal and two assists during Manalapan’s Group IV run. His play in the middle of the field helped Manalapan hang around against Washington Township, the eventual Group IV champion and the No. 1 team in New Jersey, according to the Star-Ledger, and the Minutemen needed overtime to beat the Braves. Statistically speaking, his nine goals were tops among Class A North midfielders and he also added seven assists to give him the second-highest point total in the division (25). Despite being limited because of a concussion last season, Weisberger ended his high school career with 15 goals and 17 assists to his credit and – more importantly – two division championships, a Shore Conference Tournament title and a Central Jersey Group IV championship for his team.
Brendan Barcas, Sr., Wall
Barcas played three varsity seasons for the Crimson Knights and the senior can now officially say he was an All-Shore player during all three of them. After third-team selections as a sophomore and junior, Barcas earned his inaugural first-team selection as a senior behind his best statistical campaign, which included 12 goals and six assists from the attacking midfield position. If there was a standout clutch performer on this first team, Barcas would likely earn the title with his seven game-winning goals and standout performance against the best competition on Wall’s schedule. Two of those game-winners were golden goals, one of which was the lone goal in a 1-0, overtime win over St. John Vianney in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. He also scored two goals to help Wall salvage a 3-3, regular-season draw against Ocean on Sept. 29 and scored a golden goal in an overtime win over rival Manasquan. Wall fell one win shy of a Central Jersey Group III title in 2013 and a Shore Conference Tournament title this season, but the Crimson Knights managed to win a crowded Class B North race for their first division championship since 2010. In his three varsity seasons, Barcas poured in 28 goals and handed out 16 assists while playing for one of the Shore’s top programs.
Mike McNicholas, Jr., Manalapan
The Braves finished ranked No. 1 for the second straight year despite the fact that they graduated three defenders and a goalkeeper from last year’s Shore Conference Tournament championship team. While a dynamic mix of midfielders and forwards went a long way in making up the difference, so did the leadership of McNicholas, a starter since his freshman year. A healthy Jordan Vance in the middle helped the defense return to form, but with two new outside backs and two new goalkeepers splitting the load in goal, McNicholas’ play was crucial. Even with the new personnel, the Braves pitched 11 shutouts during the season and never conceded more than two goals in a game, which they did seven times. Although the Braves will lose a significant amount of scoring next season, the defense has a chance to remain a strength with McNicholas back.
Chase Berkowitz, Sr., Freehold Twp.
A four-year starter for the Patriots, Berkowitz has primarily been a defender during his high school days, but began this season as a center midfielder for a Freehold Township team that was in search of goal-scoring options at the season’s outset. After some lobbying from the roster and some questionable goals allowed during the middle of the season, coach Todd Briggs decided to give in and let his team play flat in the back, which required the experience of Berkowitz – a natural center fullback. The move paid off in spades, as the Patriots allowed one goal and did not lose in the first 10 games after the switch. That stretch included the Shore Conference Tournament, which Freehold Township won for the first time since 2008 by allowing only one goal during the tournament – a goal by Wall with two minutes left to break up the shutout. Freehold Township then won two state tournament games, including a win over Montgomery – the top seed in the Central Jersey Group IV bracket. Berkowitz finished his varsity career with only three goals, but two of those came against CBA – including one against the Colts in a 3-1 regular-season win on the road.
Jimmy Cavanaugh, Sr., Christian Brothers Academy
To grasp the impact Cavanaugh had on CBA’s defense, one need only look at the Colts’ results during the first six games vs. the rest of the season. Cavanaugh, as it happens, was not eligible for the first six games of the season and in those six games, CBA went 3-3 with 11 goals allowed, including three goals each to Manalapan and Freehold Township. Cavanaugh then returned and CBA lost only three times the rest of the way while allowing more than one goal only twice – once in a 6-2 win over St. Rose in a state tournament tune-up game and another against red-hot Notre Dame and Brian Hawkins in a 5-2 defeat in the South Jersey Non-Public A final. During that stretch, CBA shut out nine opponents, which accounted for all of the Colts’ shutouts for the season. Cavanaugh was a threat with his athleticism in the middle, his speed-skill combination pushing forward and his toughness defending the goal. He finished with two goals – including one in the loss to Notre Dame – in his final high school season.
Mike Maltese, Jr., Freehold Twp.
Although he played outside midfield during Freehold Township’s best days, Maltese was a standout wherever the Patriots needed him. His speed and touch on crosses made for a deadly combination during Freehold Township’s run to its first SCT championship in six years. During that run, Maltese assisted on a goal in three straight wins, all on crosses from the sideline into the box. He assisted the winning goal against Marlboro in the SCT quarterfinals with a corner kick service, blasted a left-footed cross to set-up the goal in a 1-0 win over Manalapan in the semifinals and hammered a standing, right-footed cross for an assist for the first goal in a 2-1 win over Wall in the championship game. Maltese also picked up an assist in a 1-0 win over West Windsor-Plainsboro North in the Central Jersey Group IV first round, making it four straight playoff games with an assist for the junior speedster. Maltese finished the season with five goals and five assists and will anchor a handful of returnees for the Patriots next season.
Brian Shushkovsky, Sr., Freehold Twp.
The difference between the first-team goalkeeper candidates – which also includes CBA’s David Krall and Wall’s Jack Wishart – is razor-thin, perhaps even non-existent. Shushkovsky got off to a late start to the season because of a wrist injury, but once he returned, he was a rock in net for the Patriots. In 16 starts, Shushkovsky allowed just 10 goals and turned in 11 clean sheets for a Freehold Township team that was the toughest team to score on in the Shore Conference. Shushkovsky and Krall traded 1-0 shutouts against one another, with the Patriots winning the Shore Conference Tournament meeting and CBA beating Freehold Township, 3-1, when Shushkovsky was injured. Two Patriots opponents managed three goals against Shushkovsky, but both Krall (three) and Wishart (four) had more three-goal games against. Shushkovsky is a three-year starter who sat out of high school soccer last season to play academy soccer before returning for his senior season. He doubled his career shutout total in his final season, finishing with 22 for his high-school career.
Russell Romano, Sr., CBA – One of the fastest, toughest covers in the Shore Conference, Romano scored 15 goals and six assists to cap a stellar career that yielded 29 goals in three varsity seasons.
Ryan Cheslock, Sr., Toms River North – Moved up from center back to play striker and scored 11 goals despite missing time due to a knee injury.
Bryan DaSilva, Sr., Marlboro – Scored five goals vs. Red Bank in an SCT first-round game to highlight a 20-goal senior season, one that helped land him third on Marlboro’s career scoring list.
Alex Cella, Sr., Matawan – Scored a career-high 17 goals to help lead the Huskies to their first division title in boys soccer. Finished with 29 goals and 14 assists for his career.
Jordan Urbaczek, Sr., Toms River South – The heart of a solid, senior-led Indians team, Urbaczek scored 14 goals and eight assists in his final year and finished with 22 career goals.
Wadneson Alexis, Jr., Ocean – An early-season knee injury slowed Alexis somewhat, but the junior still turned in his second straight 12-goal season, which included an overtime buzzer beater (see below).
Doug Jensen, Sr., Central – The other half of Central’s dynamic duo, Jensen scored 19 goals and 16 assists as a senior to finish with 35 goals and 36 assists for his career.
Joey Hertgen, Jr., Toms River North – After missing his sophomore season with a broken leg, Hertgen broke out as a junior with 12 goals for a Mariners team that reached the South Jersey Group IV final.
Matt DeGenova, Sr., Wall – The senior center back of a Wall defense that recorded 12 shutouts despite losing two standout defenders from a year ago.
Mike Staklinski, Sr., Freehold Twp. – Berkowitz was probably the key to Freehold Township’s title run on the defensive side, but Staklinski was the constant in the back from day one.
Lee Scheck, Sr., Toms River North – A versatile, three-year starter whose tenacious play down the stretch helped the Mariners contend for A South and make a deep state tournament run.
Christian Bruno, Sr., St. John Vianney – The embodiment of an unheralded but unrelenting senior group of Lancers, Bruno was a defensive constant who also managed to score three goals for Vianney.
David Krall, Sr., CBA – Colts goalkeepers don’t always have to earn their shutouts with a ton of saves, but Krall bailed out CBA on many occasions and was one of the more important keepers in the recent history at CBA.
Jack Wishart, Sr., Wall – Finished second in the Shore Conference with a school-record 12 shutouts to cap a three-year varsity tenure that included a total of 27 clean sheets.
Bryan Malerba, Sr., Brick Memorial – While combining with Kevin Simek to form A South’s most productive one-two punch, Malerba led the Mustangs with 17 goals and 11 assists.
Josh Sommerer, Sr., Toms River East – A third-teamer for the second straight year, Sommerer posted 18 goals and eight assists.
Alex Politi, Sr., St. John Vianney – A hat trick against Holmdel and three Shore Conference Tournament goals highlighted a 10-goal senior season.
Brandon Pirog, Jr., Jackson Liberty – One of seven 20-goal scorers in the Shore Conference, Pirog also established a record in the short history of the Lions program with his 20 goals.
Matt Thorsheim, So., CBA – Led all A North midfielders in scoring with eight goals and 10 assists and has already established himself as one of the Shore’s top players as a sophomore.
Dante Montesinos, So., Shore – Speaking of sophomores, if Kessler can’t reach 100 goals, Montesinos might. After scoring 15 this season, he already has 27 heading into his junior season.
Sam MacPherson, Sr., Red Bank – While Gilson did most of the goal-scoring, MacPherson quietly scored 11 goals and nine assists, which included a hat trick.
Taylor Demick, Sr., Colts Neck – An unheralded player in a Class B North rich in individual talent, Demick posted six goals and six assists for the Cougars.
Jake Friedland, Sr., Shore – Scored the deciding goal in a 1-0 win over New Egypt in the Central Jersey Group I final to cap a three year career as a standout at center back.
Dom DiSalvo, Sr., Donovan Catholic – Although the team regresses, DiSalvo remained one of the Conference’s top defenders.
Sam Monaco, Sr., Point Boro – The Panthers were balanced throughout the formation and Monaco held together a strong defense while also providing some offense (two goals).
Nick Zolofra, Sr., Holmdel – A three-year starter at stopper for an accomplished Hornets team that had its moments at times but found its defensive rhythm midseason.
Kollin White, Sr., Toms River South – A three-year standout in goal, White posted six shutouts and finished with 17 for his career.
Chris Juhasz, Sr., Jackson Memorial – Take out an 8-0 loss to Rancocas Valley in a game that got away early, and Juhasz allowed more than one goal just twice all season and gave up 15 goals in 21 games with 10 shutouts.