The Shore Conference field appeared to catch up to Class A North in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when the division placed just one team in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals each year, albeit with two champions during that span. Last year, though the Shore’s premiere division came roaring back with two more teams in the SCT final – including champion Freehold Township – as well as the top three teams in the final Shore Sports Network Top 10. This year, expect the top of Class A North to again be the cream of the Shore Conference crop.


In Predicted Order of Finish

Freehold Township

Head Coach: Todd Briggs, 10th season
2014 Record: 14-6-2 (8-5-1, third in A North)
Returning Players: Mark Fasano (Sr., Midfield), Mike Maltese (Sr., Midfield), Nick Facendo (Sr., Forward), Jake Kennis (Sr., Defense), Adrian Barajas (Jr., Defense), Chris Hoskins (Sr., Forward), Andrew DiBella (Jr., Midfield), Mike Christina (Sr., Goalkeeper), Anthony Orrico (Sr., Forward), Chris Anello (Sr., Defense), Ryan Morrison (Sr., Defense), Chris Cardace (Sr., Defense), Kyle Trainor (Jr., Midfield/Forward), Sean O’Donnell (Jr., Midfield), Kris Kulick (Jr., Midfield), Hadi Raoofi (Sr., Forward), Kyle Finn (Sr, Defense), Jake Konig (Sr., Goalkeeper)
Key Losses: Brian Shushkovsky (Goalkeeper), Chase Berkowitz (Midfield), Mike Staklinski (Defense), Jason Czajkowski (Forward), Kyle Czajkowski (Forward), Tim O’Donnell (Forward), Nick Lisowski (Defense)
Newcomers: Anthony Badalov (Jr., Defense), Adam Killeen (Sr., Defense)

The defending Shore Conference Tournament champions return with a versatile, athletic roster that has the look of the team that made the SCT title run as an 11 seed last year, all while carrying a chip on their collective shoulder after falling in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinals at Monroe. The Patriots won the SCT, but finished No. 2 in the Shore because Manalapan beat Monroe on its home field, so Freehold Township will be motivated to click from the start so that the CJ IV field has to come to them in November.

As far as returning starters go, plenty of other teams throughout the Shore and even in A North have as much back or more than Freehold Township does. Freehold Township lost six players with starting experience, including two All-Shore defenders (Mike Staklinski and Chase Berkowitz) and an All-Shore keeper (Brian Shushkovsky). What they lack in returning all-conference players, the Patriots make up for with exceptional depth and team speed, which overwhelmed CBA, Manalapan and Wall during the SCT. Mike Maltese was arguably Freehold Township’s best player during the postseason and he returns to the outside midfield.

Center midfielder Mark Fasano, forward Nick Facendo and outside back Jake Kennis all return as seniors and 6-4 junior center back Adrian Barajas and 6-1 senior midfielder Chris Hoskins will help Freehold Township control the game in the air, which has been a staple of the Patriots even when they have not had a lot of height. Senior defender Adam Killeen will also bring some size to the back in front of goalkeeper Mike Christina, who gained valuable experience during the first six games of the 2014 season. Throw in considerable depth with returning contributors like Chris Anello, Andrew DiBella, Sean O’Donnell and Ryan Morrison and the Patriots will again be a rough 80 minutes for opponents.

Mark Fasano (right) of Freehold Township and Nick Meyer (10) of CBA will do battle for the A North and Shore Conference Tournament titles again in 2015. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Christian Brothers Academy

Head Coach: Dan Keane, 38th season
2014 Record: 14-6-1 (10-3-1, tied first in A North)
Returning Players: Matt Thorsheim (Jr., Midfield), John Frycz (Sr., Forward), Tom Lozowski (Sr., Defense), Nick Meyer (Sr., Midfield), Tim Milkulski (Sr., Defense), Joe Paolillo (Sr., Defense/Midfield), Dean Canale (Sr., Defense), Pat Kollman (Jr., Midfield/Forward)
Key Losses: Russell Romano (Forward), David Krall (Goalkeeper), Jim Cavanaugh (Defense), Conor Gilmore (Defense), Richie Leister (Midfield), Nick Misson (Defense), Deven Bhattachayra (Midfield)
Newcomers: Matt Mawson (Jr., Midfield), Scott Misson (Jr., Defense), Aaron Robertson (Jr., Forward), Tom Judge (Jr., Midfield), Ryan Nigro (Jr., Defense/Midfield), Aeden Boriotti (Jr., Goalkeeper), Declan McStravick (So., Midfield)

The Colts are motivated to reclaim their post at the top of the Shore Conference in the final year in the legendary career of head coach Dan Keane, who announced that this, his 38th season, will be his last. On pure skill and ability, the Colts might be better than Freehold Township, but outside of CBA’s loaded teams in 2010 and 2011, that is rarely the deciding factor in this rivalry. Freehold Township’s athleticism vs. CBA’s discipline and ball movement always make for a fascinating contrast and competitive match and this year should bring more of the same.

The Colts have to like their chances with two top scorers returning in junior midfielder Matt Thorsheim and senior forward John Frycz, as well as a physical defender in Tom Lozowski, who will look to lead four new starting defenders in front of a new goalkeeper. Lozowski was a starting midfielder last year but will move back with the team needing some size and leadership in defensive third. Junior Scott Misson takes over the other center fullback spot and is one of a host of juniors who will make a major impact this season.

Senior Nick Meyer came on strong late last year and will be a scoring threat as an attacking midfielder and a forward, depending on the formation. Junior Pat Kollman has also looked like a scoring threat early on, along with juniors Matt Mawson and physical striker Aaron Robertson. The play of junior Aedan Bariotti – the frontrunner to start in goal – will be something to keep an eye on as CBA looks to plug five open spots in the back and in net to complement a very talented group on the attack. If the pieces fit, then Keane’s last year could be another memorable one.



Head Coach: John Natoli, 24th season
2014 Record: 16-4-3 (9-2-3, tied first in A North)
Returning Players: Mike McNicholas (Sr., Defense), Mitch Volis (Sr., Midfield), Rocky Garretson (Jr., Midfield), Joseph Ahn (Sr., Midfield), Ayush Mittal (Sr., Midfield), Miles Schindler (Sr., Defense), Daniel Natoli (Sr., Midfield), Pio Lamoriello-Schiano (Sr., Forward), Dylan Williams (Sr., Defense), Tiago Reyes (Sr., Midfield), Kenan Kizar (Sr., Midfield), Tom Colen (Sr., Defense), Andrew Kaplan (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Ryan Hammer (Forward), Adam Weisberger (Midfield), Rob Pratka (Midfield), Jordan Vance (Defense), Eric Wilkinson (Defense), Justin Terr (Goalkeeper), Mike Cavanaugh (Goalkeeper), G.J. Lockhart (Forward)
Newcomers: Connor O’Neill (Jr., Defense), Mitchell Frishberg (Sr., Midfield), Andrew Comito (Sr., Forward), Ricky Baptista (Sr., Midfield), Guaray Singh (Sr., Forward), Cam Saunders (Jr., Midfield), Ethan Shalom (Jr., Goalkeeper), Joe Maccariello (Jr., Midfield), Ryan Cadotte (Sr. Goalkeeper), Matt DiLorenzo (Sr., Goalkeeper), Josh Koenig (So., Goalkeeper)

It is easy to look at the list of graduates from last year’s Braves team and highlight what Manalapan hass lost. Ryan Hammer and Adam Weisberger were both All-Shore players and Rob Pratka was a high-energy player who turned hard work into goals. All told, those three accounted for 36 goals and 27 assists, which will be almost impossible to replace. Factor in the loss of defenders Jordan Vance and Eric Wilkinson, as well as the solid goalkeeper tandem of Justin Terr and Matt Cavanaugh, and Manalapan will take a hit to some degree.

While those losses will make an impact, the returning group at Manalapan should speak to how talented the Braves were over the last two years. Senior sweeper Mike McNicholas was a first-team All-Shore defender as a junior and will lead a defense that also returns senior Miles Schindler on the outside. Manalapan will be experienced in the midfield with Mitch Volis and junior Rocky Garretson back in the starting lineup and seniors Joe Ahn and Ayush Mittal also returning with starting experience. Mittal, in particular, was a spark for the Braves during the latter part of 2014 and finished with four goals and five assists.

A number of Braves returnees saw time off the bench last year and including forwards Pio Lamoriello-Schiano and Dan Natoli, who will look to take the spot at the top of the formation above an experienced midfield. The Braves also took four goalkeepers to camp and coach John Natoli has shown many times that he has no problem splitting time between his keepers. Manalapan won’t fall off the map, but keeping up with Freehold Township and CBA will depend on the depth of the program coupled with big years from the core of McNicholas, Volis, Garretson and Mittal.


Middletown North

Head Coach: Fred Napoli, 13th season (24th overall)
2014 Record: 7-9-3 (6-5-3, fourth in A North)
Returning Players: Dan Cavanaugh (Sr., Defense), Ryan Harmon (Jr., Midfield), Scott Wiegel (Jr., Goalkeeper), Elliot De La Rosa (Jr., Midfield), Justin McKenna (Jr., Midfield/Forward)
Key Losses: Dan Bennett (Midfield), Jim Kelly (Forward), Chris Marino (Defense), John Maxted (Midfield), Jordan Robinson (Goalkeeper/Forward), Connor Crosby (Defense), Noah Grant (Defense), Mike Reiser (Defense)
Newcomers: Anthony Chiano (Sr., Midfield), Nick Brennan (Sr., Defense), Jordan Stratton (Jr., Midfield), Ryan Binn (So., Forward), Liam McGregor (So., Midfield), Jeff King (Jr., Defense)

Some outside the program may have forgotten, but at one point last year, Middletown North had pushed into the Shore Conference top 10 with wins over Freehold Township and Manalapan. Solid senior and sophomore classes drove that stretch, but two injuries ultimately derailed Middletown North’s season. The first was to returning junior goalkeeper Scott Wiegel, who missed most of his sophomore year and whose injury forced coach Fred Napoli to move senior Jordan Robinson from forward back to his original position in net. The second injury was a knee injury to senior Dan Bennett in early October, one from which the Lions never really recovered.

Wiegel is back in goal this year, and the junior class will get a nice boost from a strong collection of newcomers. Ryan Harmon was a big part of Middletown North’s success as a sophomore center midfielder, while Elliot De La Rosa and Justin McKenna both started as sophomores as well. Senior defender Dan Cavanaugh brings some senior experience to the back, where he will be joined by newcomers senior Nick Brennan and junior Jeff King. Sophomore midfielder Liam McGregor and sophomore forward Ryan Binn will contribute right off the bat, with McGregor joining the program after playing academy soccer during his freshman year.

Manalapan, Freehold Township and CBA have had a stronghold on Class A North for the past two seasons and this year could be more of the same. If there is a team ready to break up the monopoly, Middletown North – with its early-season success last year – appears to have as good of a chance as any team.


Freehold Boro

Head Coach: Anthony Sessa, third season
2014 Record: 7-9-4 (5-6-3, sixth in A North)
Returning Players: Jesus Lopez (Sr., Goalkeeper), Andy Rizo (Jr., Forward), William Lee (Sr., Midfield), Jose Silva (Sr., Midfield), Ethan Kudler (Sr., Defense), Matthew Schertzer (Sr., Midfield), Isaiah Ladouceur (Jr., Forward), Tommy Boyle (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Roberto Albarran (Defense), Anthony Matteo (Midfield), Dominick Matteo (Midfield/Forward), Jack LeMunyon (Midfield), Gerson Garcia (Midfield), Joe McMerty (Defense), Jon Widmen (Defense), Eric Horowitz (Defense), Matt Marinella (Midfield)
Newcomers: Joey Stabile (Sr.), Nestor Romero (Jr.), Alex Trajkoski (Jr.), Jared Avila (So.), Jake Bower (So.), Saif Elsiedy (So.)

In their first season in Class A North, the Colonials not only remained competitive, but they made a late-season push that got them into the Shore Conference Tournament after enduring some lean years in a Class B North division generally regarded to be weaker than A North. Freehold established a pretty strong rotation of talent once it hit a groove late in the season, and although the Colonials must replace a number of major contributors like sweeper Roberto Albarran, midfielder Jack LeMunyon, and the Matteo twins – Anthony and Dom – they also return a core of players with significant experience.

Junior Andy Rizo and senior Jesus Lopez give Freehold a pair of quality bookends to the formation, with Rizo returning as the team’s top striker and Lopez in goal. Rizo scored seven goals as a sophomore last year, good for second on the team. Seniors William Lee, Jose Silva and Matt Schertzer all return with experience and juniors Isaiah Ladouceur and Tommy Boyle both contributed as juniors. Senior Ethan Kudler also returns to a defense that will have to undergo a reconstruction with the loss of Albarran.

The Colonials appeared to get over the hump at the end of last year and with some help from the incoming group to go with a standout forward and keeper, they could be in for a move into the top three of the division if things break right.



Head Coach: Rich Yuro, 25th season
2014 Record: 3-11-2 (3-9-2, seventh in A North)
Returning Players: Tyler DiGiovanni (Sr., Forward), Conner Hansen (Sr., Midfield), Evan Houdousek (Sr., Forward), Mike Flaherty (Sr., Forward), Joe Masino (Jr., Goalkeeper), Tim Mortillaro (Sr., Defense), Zach Terracciano (Sr., Midfield), Matt Lynn (Sr., Defense), Alex Behan (Sr., Forward), Dan Mato (Sr., Defense), Brandon Downey (So., Forward), Stephen Marron (So., Midfield), Adam Jiries (So., Midfield)
Key Losses: Leroy Anderson (Forward), Tyler Johnson (Midfield), Nate Schank (Goalkeeper), Andres Kaiafas (Defense)
Newcomers: Kyle Bosko (Sr., Defense), Brad Kolczynski (Jr., Midfield), Ryan Leary (Jr., Midfield), Stephen Lovato (Jr., Defense), Nick Wolfe (Jr., Midfield)

Since the new U.S. Youth Soccer initiative to keep players training exclusively with academy teams, few teams have been hit harder by the academy exodus than Howell. While the sheer number of defections might be rivalled by some other teams, the Rebels just haven’t had the depth to overcome those losses and that result has been what seems to be a perpetual rebuilding phase.

This year should present more reason for optimism, as last year’s Rebels team was one of the youngest that coach Rich Yuro has had in his 25 years as head coach. Howell will have a solid senior foundation this year with the return of contributors Tyler DiGiovanni, Connor Hansen, Evan Houdousek and Alex Behan, among others. Junior Joe Masino will move from the field to the goal fulltime as the lone returning junior.

Forward Brandon Downey and midfielders Stephen Marron and Adame Jiries all played as freshmen and give the Rebels a solid young core to build around over the next several years. Downey – along with DiGiovanni – was one of only four Howell players to score multiple goals last year, when the Rebels scored only 16 during the entire season. Scoring could be hard to come by again, but this is a more cohesive team heading into 2015 and that should result in a more competitive season for a program that is trying to rekindle the glory days that seemed to be alive only four years ago.



Head Coach: Dave Santos, 20th season (26th overall)
2014 Record: 10-9-1 (6-7-1, fifth in A North)
Returning Players: Jacob Bordman (Sr., Defense), P.J. Ringel (Jr., Midfield), Steven Karp (Jr., Midfield), Ryan LaRocca (Jr., Defense), Josh Grun (Jr., Midfield), Dan McGrath (Jr., Defense), Noah Moorstein (Sr., Midfield), Andrew Toron (Sr., Midfield), Joey Stapleton (Sr., Midfield), Matt Howard (Jr., Midfield), Conor Leahy (Sr., Defense), Mike DeCarlo (Sr., Defense), Matt Bongiorno (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Bryan DaSilva (Midfield), Ben Metzger (Forward), Brandon Enny (Goalkeeper), Max Rodenborn (Defense), Greg Reimer (Goalkeeper), Matt Sherman (Defense), Justin Belasco (Defense), Kyle Caruso (Forward), Jordan Jay (Midfield), Jared Bouer (Midfield), Robert Chiusano (Midfield)
Newcomers: James Weinberg (Jr., Goalkeeper), Justin Goldstein (Jr., Defense), Verezdat Topuzyan (Jr., Forward), Brian Dates (So., Forward), Jayson Green (Sr.), Ilan Galitsky (Jr.), William Chiusano (Jr.), Jacb Grine (Jr.), Philip Kordunov (Jr.), Jared Markowitz (Jr.), Jacob Edri (So.), Zach Scarp (So.), Jaden Strumeier (So.)

While Middletown North made noise with three big regular-season wins and Freehold Boro made a late charge to make a surprise appearance in the Shore Conference Tournament, Marlboro handled their business during an unspectacular regular season before shocking the Shore with a couple of upset wins in the Shore Conference Tournament. The Mustangs knocked off both Red Bank and Toms River North on the road as a No. 19 seed in the tournament and did so behind the scoring of Bryan DaSilva. DaSilva and his 20 goals are gone, as are Ben Metzger and his 10, so Marlboro will have to take on a different identity than the one it had for a few games in October as the Miracle Mustangs.

The strength of this year’s team lies in the junior class, which is led by returning midfielders P.J. Ringel (five goals), Josh Grun and Stephen Karp, as well as defenders Ryan LaRocca and Dan McGrath. Senior captain Jacob Bordman also returns to the defense and fellow senior captain Noah Moorstein moves into the starting midfield as well. Marlboro will also have to replace two quality goalkeepers in Brandon Enny and Greg Reimer, a task that will fall upon junior James Weinberg, who is entering his first varsity season. Sophomore Brian Dates will also join the varsity starting lineup this year as a forward a will have a chance to pick up some of the scoring left behind by DaSilva and Metzger.

Marlboro will have to switch up its identity this season without the playmaking ability of players like DaSilva and Metzger, but the Mustangs do have the makings of a good team by season’s end and certainly by next season. If the juniors continue to mature quickly, Marlboro could surprise the A North field.


Middletown South

Head Coach: Pat Petretta, ninth season
2014 Record: 3-14 (2-12, eighth in A North)
Returning Players: Liam Davis (Sr., Defense), Mike Britt (Sr., Forward), Louis Moure (Sr., Goalkeeper), Alex Keating (Sr., Midfield), Jack Jennings (Sr., Defense), Joey Gambale (Sr., Midfield), Jesse Price (Sr., Midfield), A.J. Stevens (Sr., Defense), Nick Mihoulides (Sr., Defense), Jake Skribner (Jr., Midfield), Blake Finlayson (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Hunter Davey (Midfield), Ian Breyer (Defense), Patrick Corey (Midfield), Shane Poli (Defense)
Newcomers: James Glynn (So., Defense), Mike Zito (So., Midfield), Connell MacLellan (So., Midfield), Brandon Kalika (So., Defense)

As rough as last season was for Middletown South, it was not as rough as 2013 and it is not as rough as the lean early years of Pat Petretta’s tenure as head coach. Petretta guided the Eagles through a long rebuilding phase that came to fruition in 2011 and 2012 and the program has since had to reset the process with the loss of that wave of players. It remains to be seen whether this group has the ceiling to eventually do what the 2012 team did – reach both the Shore Conference Tournament and Central Jersey Group III semifinals – but at the very least, they showed some signs of life last year.

Middletown South went from a high of beating CBA for its first win of the year to the low of losing its next 11 games – the first 10 of which were shutouts. The Eagles did, however, win their final two games against Mater Dei Prep and Middletown North to head into the offseason on a high note. Senior sweeper Liam Davis returns having established himself as a top player in A North, and the Eagles can afford to play him in the back with the improved play of senior forward Mike Britt (six goals in 2014). Junior Blake Finlayson also had a solid showing as a sophomore, which included the winning goal in the 1-0 win over CBA.

Senior goalkeeper Louis Moure faced plenty of fire last season and will have to be excellent this season for the Eagles to continue to close the gap between them and the top teams in the division, but even through the struggles of the last two years, Middletown South has shown they can knock anybody off on any given day. That dynamic is part of the reason Class A North is so difficult, as well as a reason for the Eagles to have hope coming off a second straight season with double-digit losses.

Manalapan senior Mike McNicholas. (Photo by Matt Manley)


Players to Watch

Mike McNicholas, Manalapan – An All-Shore defender each of the last two years and a first-teamer last year, McNicholas is the heart of a Manalapan team that is gunning for a third straight season as the Shore’s No. 1 team.

Matt Thorsheim, CBA – Now drawing some Division I interest according to his coaches, Thorsheim will look to continue his trajectory toward become a Player of the Year candidate in the Shore Conference.

Mike Maltese, Freehold Township – If Maltese is not the fastest player in the Shore Conference, he sure plays like it. His ability to wear teams out on the flanks basically won Freehold Township the SCT.

Andy Rizo, Freehold Boro – Teams quickly began to key on Rizo once they learned about his creativity, so it will be interesting to watch how he adjusts after a seven-goal sophomore season.

Adrian Barajas, Freehold Township – At 6-4, Barajas has filled out since the end of his sophomore year and if he can stay a little bit healthier this year, he will be one of a real weapon out of the back of the formation.

John Frycz, CBA – One of CBA’s breakout players from a year ago, Frycz showed a knack for finding the net by scoring 10 goals for as a junior for the No. 3 team in the Shore Conference at the end of the year.

Mitch Volis, Manalapan – Volis carved out a niche as a dangerous outside midfielder who played with and off of Ryan Hammer and Adam Weisberger. He has shown an ability to create and the Braves will need him to keep doing it.


Goalkeeper to Watch

Jesus Lopez, Freehold Boro – In a division with some interesting goalkeepers, Lopez has the most proven track record and he has won games for the Colonials in net.


Breakout Players to Watch

Scott Misson, CBA – The Colts moved Tom Lozowski to the back to shore up the defense, but Misson plays with the kind of poise and ability that suggests he can handle being the leader oof the back line if need be.

Ryan Harmon, Middletown North – Harmon opened some eyes around A North as a tough, hard-working midfielder and he has some more offense to tap into.

P.J. Ringel, Marlboro – The Marlboro juniors could begin to make a move this year and Ringel – a good all-around athlete – will likely be an offensive catalyst.