Class B South has been almost a rotation of three or four teams at the top of the division, with Donovan Catholic, Central, Point Boro and Lacey – before it moved back to A South – all trading division titles with one another. Not since 2006, when Lakewood broke up the party, has another team been mentioned in the discussion of Class B South division title contenders and at first glance, that won’t change this year.

Central is the clear favorite on paper thanks to 31 returning goals between two players, an advantage unrivaled in the Shore Conference. The Golden Eagles may, however, get their toughest competition from Jackson Liberty, a team that has not yet pushed for a division title during its young history. Donovan Catholic and Point Boro will still be in play, but the intrigue may be more about who emerges as the top challenger to Central, assuming the Golden Eagles can wear the bull's eye well.

Central senior Blake Czajkowski will try to lead the Shore Conference in scoring for a second consecutive season. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Central

Head Coach: Rob Bechtloff, 27th season
Last Year’s Record: 11-4-2 (10-2-2, third in B South)
Returning: Blake Czajkowski (Sr., Forward); Doug Jensen (Sr., Midfield/Forward); Bryan Jones (Sr., Goalkeeper); Shane Cranstoun (Jr., Midfield/Defense); Troy Foberg (Jr., Defense); Youssef Abdelaziz (So., Midfield); Griffin Bacon (So., Defense); Cory Carsten (So., Defense); Frank Golda (So., Forward); Nate Wiley (So., Defense); Dale Wei (So., Defense/Midfield)
Departed: Corey Geoghegan (Forward); Luke Aceto (Midfield); Kyle Kaiser (Forward); Steve Figueroa (Midfield); Wyatt Holm (Defense)
Newcomers: Brody Elliot (So., Defense); Ned Burg (So., Defense); Roberto Pacheco (Jr., Forward/Midfield); Gustavo Ponce (Jr.); Francisco Tamayo (Jr.)

If a team is as good as its best player, Central should cruise to a Class B South championship and could even be among the favorites to win the Shore Conference Tournament. In fact, Central’s second-best player is better than the best player on most teams. Seniors Blake Czajkowski and Doug Jensen are both coming off major statistical seasons as juniors and will make up the top returning offensive duo in the division, and arguably the best in the Shore Conference. Czajkowski led the conference in scoring with 20 goals and 12 assists and Jensen added 11 goals and 13 assists last year.

Of course, the best player or duo can only take a team so far, and Central’s season will depend on how much improvement the rest of the young roster shows relative to last year. Junior Shane Cranstoun was a major contributor as a sophomore defender and has been working in the midfield during the preseason, although he could end up moving back to lead an otherwise young defense. That defense includes a rotation of sophomores Griffin Bacon, Nate Wiley, Ned Burg, Cory Carsten, Brody Elliot and Dale Wei, so some level of experience might help the group in front of standout senior goalkeeper Bryan Jones.

Sophomores Youssef Abdelaziz and Frank Golda will also play on the attack, so although the Golden Eagles have two senior scoring standouts up front and a senior in goal, the rest of the team is young. Perhaps that is Central’s downfall, but it could also prime the Golden Eagles for a nice run of B South championships and maybe more, especially with Czajkowski and Jensen in the fold this year.

 

Jackson Liberty

Head Coach: Brett Mallinson, second season
Last Year’s Record: 10-7-0 (9-5-0, fourth in B South)
Returning: Adam Haidi (Sr., Midfield); Chris Galifi (Sr., Midfield/Forward); Brandon Pirog (Jr., Defense); Joe Pasqualini (Sr., Defense); Bryan Garry (Jr., Midfield); Ben Siragusa (Sr., Defense); Morgan Barkley (Jr., Midfield); Aidan Benbrook (Sr., Goalkeeper); Jake Mackenzie (Sr., Midfield); Jeremy DeBoer (Sr., Midfield); Nick Pellegrino (Jr., Defense); Zach Moran (Jr., Defense)
Departed: Kaliph Piper (Midfield); Tyler Chamra (Defense); Jacob Gardocki (Goalkeeper)

Jackson Liberty was making the gradual climb toward the top of the B South standings as well as the late stages of the NJSIAA Tournament as of 2011. Then, following a run to the Central Jersey Group III semifinals in 2011, two key players didn’t return for 2012 and the program took a small step back. Last year, the Lions got back on track by climbing back above .500, qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament and winning a first-round game in the Central Jersey Group III Tournament.

Not only was last season a step in the right direction, but Jackson Liberty accomplished all of that with a roster that is mostly back this season. Graduated players Kaliph Piper and Tyler Chamra were starters in the field and Jacob Gardocki had a strong season in goal, but Liberty returns its top three scorers from last year and has enough on the roster to plug the open spots.

Senior Adam Haidi and juniors Bryan Garry and Brandon Pirog all scored seven goals apiece, with Haidi handing out a team-high six assists. Pirog is due to move back to fullback after playing up top for most of last season, but regardless of where he plays, he will be effective.

Senior Aidan Benbrook takes over in goal for Gardocki after playing in the field last year, while seniors Chris Galifi, Joe Pasqualini and Ben Siragusa also return to the lineup along with junior Morgan Barkley. Last year, Jackson Liberty got its biggest win of the season over Point Boro, but could not get over the hump against Central and was no match for division champion Donovan Catholic. With Donovan taking a heavy hit to graduation, the Lions will be looking to turn two one-goal losses to Central around and throw itself into the division title race.

 

Point Pleasant Boro

Head Coach: Pete Casalino, 10th season
Last Year’s Record: 13-6-1 (11-2-1, second in B South)
Returning: Kenny Fellows (Sr., Forward); Owen Herrington (Sr., Forward); Nick DeCurtis (Jr., Midfield); Steve Corso (Sr., Midfield); Evan McHugh (Sr., Midfield); Sam Monaco (Jr., Defense); Derick Fischer (Sr., Defense); Gabe Pesante (Sr., Goalkeeper); Quin Hornish (Sr., Forward); Mike Bestine (Sr., Midfield); Harry Van Wagenen (Sr., Defense); Jake Woodring (Sr., Forward); Mason Remondelli (So., Midfield)
Departed: Dan Hunt (Midfield); Gunnar Schnappauf (Defense); Weston Bargholz (Midfield); Matt LaFalce (Midfield)
Newcomers: Dan Nobbs (Sr., Forward); Joe Donahue (Sr., Midfield); Ryan Remondelli (Sr., Defense); Mason Pitts (Jr., Defense); Alex Stupar (Jr., Midfield); Mason Weingarten (Jr., Forward/Midfield); Tyler Haines (So., Goalkeeper)

Any team that loses its top three scorers from the previous year has some questions to address, but Point Boro is accustomed to handling such a challenge. The Panthers will have to replace Dan Hunt, Gunnar Schnappauf and Weston Bargholz and the 20 goals and 16 assists for which they combined, but even with all of that production between three players, Point Boro scored its 46 goals with a balanced attack.

That balance will be the blueprint again this season, but there are some proven scoring threats among Point Boro’s returnees. Junior Nick DeCurtis emerged as an all-around threat out of the midfield with five goals and three assists, while junior Sam Monaco gave the Panthers four goals and five assists from a defensive midfield spot. Senior Evan McHugh caught fire in the middle of the season and scored seven goals, giving Point Boro 16 goals from three returning players. While they may not get 7 from their sweeper like Schnappauf scored last year, the Panthers have enough proven scoring to get off the ground.

Senior goalkeeper Gabe Pesante also returns after a strong debut season as a varsity keeper. On the other end of the field, seniors Kenny Fellows, Jake Woodring and Owen Herrington will look to be threats up top. Sophomore Mason Remondelli will also figure into the attack after contributing as a freshman last season. Despite losing a good amount of scoring, the Panthers also bring enough back to contend and with some depth and a strong keeper, they should be right back near the top of the standings again this year.

 

Donovan Catholic

Head Coach: Ken Oliver, 14th season
Last Year’s Record: 14-5-2 (12-2-0, first in B South)
Returning: Dom DiSalvo (Sr., Defense); Connor Grant (Sr., Midfield); Eric Glawson (Sr., Defense); Matt Kelly (Sr., Forward); Jake Mulvaney (Jr., Forward); Brant Reymann (Jr., Defense); Tom Swanson (Jr., Defense); Matt Dalton (So., Defense/Midfield)
Departed: Paul Kelly (Goalkeeper); Mike Dalton (Forward); Jake Maxwell (Midfield); Sean Suskevich (Defense); Matt Migdon (Forward/Midfield); Justin Kekatos (Defense); Couper McLay (Defense/Midfield); Jimmy Maguire (Midfield);
Newcomers: Alec Mapoy (Jr., Midfield); Nick Kriticos (Jr., Midfield); Dan Popo (Jr., Defense); Evan Root (Jr., Goalkeeper); Brendan Ryan (Jr., Midfield); Jake Thoms (Jr., Defense/Midfield); Justin Alves (So., Forward); Hunter Calveto (So., Defense); Kevin Dillon (So., Defense/Goalkeeper); Bryce Grant (So., Midfield); Jon Michael Pereira (So., Defense/Midfield)

On the whole, there is a lot of talent returning to Class B South this season, but Donovan Catholic does not return much to the starting lineup from last year, including its school name. The Griffins must replace their top five scorers – including the sweeper – and a first-team All-Shore goalkeeper from a team that took care of the Class B South title and suffered tough, one-goal defeats at the hands of Rumson-Fair Haven and Christian Brothers Academy in the two postseason tournaments.

One of the unsung heroes of last year’s 14-5-2 team – senior stopper Dom DiSalvo – is back to anchor the defense and control the middle of the field after another strong performance in that role last year. Senior midfielder Connor Grant also played a key role as a starter last year, scoring three goals out of the midfield last year.

The rest of Donovan Catholic's lineup will consist of newcomers and role players from last year, but one of those newcomers is junior midfielder Alec Mapoy, who decided to forgo his sophomore season of high school ball to play academy soccer. Mapoy is one of a number of juniors who will assume playing time this year, including Brant Reymann, Jake Mulvaney and Tom Swanson. Seniors Matt Kelly and Eric Glawson also saw time last year and will figure into bigger roles this year, particularly Kelly as a scorer up front.

Whether Monsignor Donovan or Donovan Catholic, the Griffins will always be a factor in the division and this year should be no different. It may take some time for the new starters to jell, but expect the Griffins to be a tournament team and make a late charge for the division title.

 

Pinelands

Head Coach: Jason Asch, sixth season
Last Year’s Record: 3-15-1 (2-11-1, seventh in B South)
Returning: Rabi Orellana (Sr., Midfield); Paul Cardillo (Sr., Defense); Billy Sulzmann (Jr., Defense/Midfield); Matt Cahill (Sr., Midfield); Austin Hart (Jr., Midfield); Hyatt Yilmaz (Jr., Defense); Donovan Duelly (Jr., Forward); Matt O’Connell (So., Midfield); Jordan Humphreys (So., Midfield); Dave Lunn (Jr., Goalkeeper); Jay Cassillas (Sr., Defense); Corey Cusack (So., Defense)
Departed: John Tingley (Forward)
Newcomers: Cade Sundermann (Fr., Defense); Tim Kelleher (So., Forward); Carl Olsen (So., Defense)

The Wildcats have taken their lumps over the past couple of seasons and it has been in the name of rebuilding for this season, when they return all but one player from a starting lineup that was more competitive than the final record suggests by the end of the season. The Wildcats gave up a slew of goals over the course of the season, but they also showed they could score, which should bode well for this year’s team

Senior midfielder Rabi Orellana has led the team in scoring in each of the last two seasons and sophomore Jordan Humphreys is fresh off a breakout rookie year in which he scored four goals to go with two assists. Those two players combined for 12 of Pinelands’ 18 goals and will be the top two scoring threats again this year. Sophomore Matt O’Connell also got in on the scoring last season as a freshman, while juniors Donovan Duelly and Bill Salzmann also chipped in with some scoring.

Senior Paul Cardillo will lead the defense and junior Dave Lunn returns in goal looking to cut down on his goals allowed in front of an improved defense. With more cohesion in the middle of the field, Pinelands should take some pressure off the defense and Lunn and begin a climb up the standings.

 

Barnegat

Head Coach: Mike McCullion, seventh season
Last Year’s Record: 5-11-1 (4-9-1, fifth in B South)
Returning: Stewart Villavicencio (Sr., Forward); Austin Reynolds (Sr., Midfield); Max Ritner (Jr., Goalkeeper); Justin Kovacs (Sr., Forward); Kyle Heidel (Jr., Midfield); Kidron Stolte (Sr., Defense)
Departed: Matt Filippone (Defense); Frank Buckley (Midfield); Nick Horvath (Forward); Dan Moran (Midfield); Daniel Kaeser (Goalkeeper)
Newcomers: Brandon Spain (Jr., Midfield); Ryan Flaherty (Fr., Forward); Sean Moran (So., Midfield); Cameron Lew (So., Defense)

The Bengals are yet another B South team that returns a good core of players from last year’s team, which, in Barnegat’s case, went 5-11-1 and ended the season with a narrow 1-0 road loss to Haddonfield in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II playoffs. Junior Kyle Heidel turned in a strong sophomore season for the Bengals with three goals and five assists, which led a balanced scoring attack. Austin Reynolds also scored three goals last year while Stewart Villavicencio, Justin Kovacs and defender Kidron Stolte all figured into the scoring last year.

When Barnegat had success last year, it was because it held the opponent scoreless. Four of the five wins and the one draw were shutouts, four of which were recorded by junior returnee Max Ritner. Stolte and Ritner will lead a young group of defenders while looking to turn in a few more shutouts this season. If the returning players up top further develop as scorers, they may not need all of those shutouts.

 

Lakewood

Head Coach: Gene Drumright, 14th season
Last Year’s Record: 1-13-1 (1-12-1, eighth in B South)
Returning: Tomas Uribe (Sr., Midfield); Irving Sanchez (Sr., Midfield) ; Enrique Giron (Sr., Defense); Manny Quintero (Sr., Midfield); Christian Granados (So., Defense); Eduardo Castillo (So., Forward)
Departed: Yasimar Arroyo (Midfield)
Newcomers: Carlos Velaquez (Sr., Forward); Japhet Campollo (Fr., Forward); Andy Hermida (So., Goalkeeper/Defense)

The Piners did not return as much talent as they had hoped to last year and the depth, as well as their quality of play, suffered. Things are shaping up to get a little better this season, with a number of players returning to the fold after enduring a difficult season last year. Senior Tomas Uribe is a four-year starter in the midfield and will be playing with three returning senior classmates in Irving Sanchez, Enrique Giron and Manny Quintero.

Lakewood will have to rely on a good amount of youth, including returnees Christian Granados and striker Eduardo Castillo. Sophomore Andy Hermida is in line to take over in goal and freshman striker Japhet Campollo will play significant minutes up top and could be an impact rookie in the division. Last year’s struggles will not manifest themselves again to that degree, but the Piners have a long way to go to get back into the top half of the division.

 

Manchester

Head Coach: Ed Hudak, first season
Last Year’s Record: 4-13-2 (2-10-2, sixth in B South)
Returning: Dom Gregg (Jr., Forward); Jake Dufner (Jr., Midfield); Dylan Barry (Jr., Defense); Brandon Moreno (Jr., Midfield); Matt Santos (Sr., Midfield); Ryan Vanderham (Jr., Defense)
Departed: Brad Louth (Defense); Servio Espinosa (Midfield); Blake Borsetti (Midfield/Forward); Dylan Spiel (Midfield); Mike McAteer (Midfield/Forward); George Andrade (Defense); Matt Fullerton (Midfield/Defense) Matt Buss (Midfield/Goalkeeper); Brandon Neva (Defense)
Newcomers: Brendan Bouney (Jr., Forward); Colton Peck (Jr., Goalkeeper); Dapo Samoye (Jr., Defense); Matt Migliaccio (So., Goalkeeper); Albert Millan (So., Defense)

The Hawks started a senior-heavy group last season and with the graduation of that group, they will have to dig into the program as they try to get back into contention in Class B South. Only two players on last year’s team scored more than one goal and top scorer Blake Borsetti was a senior. The other was junior Dom Gregg, who scored two goals last season after scoring two as a freshman as well. For Manchester to have a chance to compete this season, Gregg will likely have a lot to do with it.

Midfielder Matt Santos is the only senior pegged for starting duty, so this year’s Hawks team won’t have near the senior influence that last year’s team did. Although most coaches would take an experienced team, it did not work out for Manchester last year, so first-year coach Ed Hudak is fine with trying to rebuild with juniors and sophomores. Juniors Jake Dufner, Dylan Barry, Brandon Moreno and Ryan Vanderham return after getting some time last year and, along with Gregg, will lead the youth movement that Manchester hopes will yield substantial returns by no later than 2015.

 

The B South 11

Blake Czajkowski, Central

The top scorer in the Shore Conference last season, Czajkowski is also one of the fastest straight-ahead runners, often outracing defenders with the ball at his feet.

Doug Jensen, Central

Czajkowski is hard to defend in large part because Jensen requires attention from the defense and will get his teammate the ball in good position, as his 13 assists in 2013 indicate.

Adam Haidi, Jackson Liberty

Earned some much-deserved recognition from coaches who saw him thanks to Jackson Liberty winning some more division games and qualifying for the postseason.

Rabi Orellana, Pinelands

Like Haidi, Orellana would benefit greatly from getting a chance to play in a tournament. The senior has been playing since his freshman season and producing as a top scorer for each of the last two seasons.

Nick DeCurtis, Point Boro

On a team that was solid across the board, DeCurtis emerged as the top midfielder and will lead an experienced, balanced midfield this season as the Panthers try to get back on top of B South.

Brandon Pirog, Jackson Liberty

Pirog showed he could score while playing up top last year and now the Lions need him to move back to a fullback spot and help protect the net for a Jackson Liberty team looking to make a run at a division title.

Dom DiSalvo, Donovan Catholic

Arguably the best defender in the division last season, DiSalvo controls the game without scoring and will be a big reason that Donovan Catholic stays in contention despite losing so many seniors to graduation.

Shane Cranstoun, Central

Coach Rob Bechtloff would like to turn Cranstoun loose in the midfield, but his services might be needed in the back. In either spot, Cranstoun is the unsung hero for a Central team with two big scorers.

Sam Monaco, Point Boro

One of many Panthers players to step up in the scoring department, Monaco did his part from a defensive midfield spot. He will be needed again mostly in a defensive capacity, but he has already shown he can push forward and find the net.

Bryan Jones, Central

Among the Shore Conference leaders with eight shutouts last year, Jones makes it easier for Central to start four sophomores in the back because of his experience and ability to make a big save.

Gabe Pesante, Point Boro

Not only was his debut season as a varsity keeper an overall success, but the first start of his debut season – a 2-0 loss to East Brunswick – was a borderline legendary performance.

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Alec Mapoy, Donovan Catholic – Back from the academy ranks and ready to run the center midfield spot.

Mason Remondelli, Point Boro – Contributed as a freshman and is a big part of the Panthers’ future in the midfield.

Dave Lunn, Pinelands – With a better group out in the field this year, Lunn shouldn’t be under the gun like he was last year.

Matt Kelly, Donovan Catholic – Flashed some ability to create shots last year, which the Griffins will need him to do now that most of their 2013 goal-scoring is gone.

Kyle Heidel, Barnegat – Flashed promise last season as a sophomore and should be ready to make his biggest leap as a junior.