Boys Soccer – 2017 Preview: Class A North
Last season, the top three teams in the final Shore Sports Network Top 10 all came out of Class A North, including a Christian Brothers Academy team that finished No. 1 in N.J. and a Marlboro squad that won a school record 20 games and reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV final. The performance of the top teams in the division is par for the course for a division that has consistently been the best in the Shore Conference over the better part of a decade.
This year, the division appears to be more up-for-grabs than it has been since 2012, which was also the only time in the last 11 years that a team from A North did not win the Shore Conference Tournament. Considering the talent that graduated from CBA, Marlboro and Freehold Township, plus the leading scorers lost by Manalapan and Colts Neck, there is actually some question whether the A North teams will make the same kind of postseason impact that has become the norm.
Although the division is less top-heavy than it has been, there is still plenty of depth – both in the division on the whole and on each individual team. This could be a fun, back-and-forth division race with a surprise winner, but heading into the year, the usual suspects are the favorites.
In predicted order of finish
Head Coach: Josh Mehl, second season
2016 Record: 12-7-1 (8-5-1, third in A North)
Key Returners: Josh Cagan (Sr., Defense), Kevin Finn (Sr., Forward), Jon Finocchiaro (Sr., Forward), Chris Orrico (Jr., Midfield), Alex Janssen (Jr., Defense), Jimmy Farrell (Sr., Midfield), Matt Finocchiaro (Sr., Midfield), Evan Nastarowicz (Jr., Goalkeeper), Alex Langa (Sr., Forward)
Key Losses: Adrian Barajas (Midfield), Kyle Trainor (Midfield), Sean O’Donnell (Midfield), Andrew DiBella (Forward), Matt Nastarowicz (Defense), Josh Nastarowicz (Goalkeeper)
Key Newcomers: Alonzo Konstantinidis (Jr., Midfield), Matt Nitti (Sr., Midfield), Nick Puglia (Sr., Midfield), Doug Kneipher (Sr., Goalkeeper), Bennett Messinger (So., Defense), Evan Savino (So., Midfield/Defense), Anthony Gandolfo (Sr., Defense), Dan Crowley (Sr., Defens), Brandon Gang (Sr., Midfield), Dan Gugliotta (Sr., Defense), Matt Hughes (Sr., Defense), Joe Marchiano (Jr., Midfield), Christian Mangini (Jr., Defense), Ben Perrella (Jr., Defense), Zach Orrico (Fr., Midfield), Mike Farrell (Fr., Midfield), John Wilhelm (Fr., Goalkeeper)
Not only did Freehold Township show it could handle heavy graduation losses last year but the Patriots handled those losses while under the direction of a new head coach. Now in his second season, coach Josh Mehl has more holes to fill following the graduation of All-Shore first-teamer Adrian Barajas and other standouts like Kyle Trainor and Sean O’Donnell. If there is one thing Freehold Township has always had and will have again this year, it is depth and that will be the feature that makes the Patriots the A North favorite, if only a slight one.
A host of returning Patriots players saw time last year, led by senior center back Josh Cagan and midfielder Chris Orrico. Senior Kevin Finn also played key minutes up top and scored four goals, while senior Jon Finocchiaro looks to further prove he is more than a just a highlight after finding the net three times last year – once in spectacular fashion. Senior Jimmy Farrell and junior Alex Janssen also proved themselves on the field as last year, while junior Evan Nastarowicz got a taste of varsity goalkeeper duty while backing up his older brother, Josh.
Among the newcomers are freshmen Zach Orrico and Mike Farrell, who should see more time than freshmen have in recent years at Freehold Township given that so much production graduated with Barajas, O’Donnell and Trainor. With Freehold Township’s system and its deep well of athletes who can play it, the Patriots are probably the safe pick to win what could end up a wide-open A North.
Christian Brothers Academy
Head Coach: Tom Mulligan, second season
2016 Record: 24-1 (13-1, first in A North)
Key Returners: John Askin (Sr., Defense), Jack Gill (Jr., Midfield), Joe Lozowski (Jr., Midfield), Evan Koczan (Sr., Midfield), Kevin Brennan (Sr., Midfield), Eric Wnorowski (Jr., Goalkeeper)
Key Losses: Matt Thorsheim (Midfield), Patrick Kollman (Forward), Matt Mawson (Midfield), Scott Misson (Defense), Aaron Robertson (Forward/Midfield), Tom Judge (Defense), Ryan Nigro (Midfield), Aedan Boriotti (Goalkeeper), Colin Lankau (Defense), Ryan O’Connor (Midfield)
Key Newcomers: George Gosden (Sr., Midfield), Christian Pacifico (Sr., Defense), Jack Hempstead (Jr., Defense), Liam Mulvey (Jr., Defense), Dominic Bellomo (Jr., Midfield), Luke Pascarella (So., Forward), Shane Keenan (Sr., Goalkeeper)
Fair or unfair, the quality of the senior class that graduated in 2017 will inspire comparisons between the 2012 CBA soccer team and the 2017 club. In 2012, CBA finished below .500 and missed the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time in program in the four-decade coaching career of Dan Keane, so while last year’s team had the 21-0 2011 to live up to as a bar, this year’s team is looking to continue the legacy of competing for A North and SCT titles.
Fortunately for this year’s team, it has more on coming back than the 2012 team did. While no starter returned in 2012, this year’s group has one back in senior center back John Askin, who matured over the course of the year while playing with 10 seniors in the starting 11. Juniors Joe Lozowski and Jack Gill also played important minutes off CBA’s bench and combined for 15 goals – eight by Gill and seven by Lozowski. Seniors Evan Koczan and Kevin Brenna played much less than the junior duo, but have a taste of varsity that will be a good starting point for them this year.
Senior Christian Pacifico and juniors Jack Hempstead and Liam Mulvey will contribute in the back of the formation, while junior Dom Bellomo and sophomore Luke Pascarella will make an impact on the attack. CBA also brings back some experience in net in Eric Wnorowski, who started a game and game on in plenty of others as a sophomore. If the bar at CBA is the Shore Conference Tournament title and reaching the NJSIAA Non-Public A final, this year’s team has a tall order given how little high school experience is on hand. On the flip side, this year should in no way resemble 2012 and come late October, the Colts should be dangerous.
Head Coach: Kerry Eisman, second season
2016 Record: 11-9-2 (6-8-0, fifth in A North)
Key Returners: Quentin Pickering (Sr., Midfield), James LaSpina (Sr., Midfield), Justin Goldberg (Jr., Midfield), D'Angelo Reyes (Jr., Defense/Midfield), Mike Kuver (Jr., Defense/Midfield), Gavin Lebright (Jr., Forward)
Key Losses: Rocky Garretson (Midfield), Conor O’Neill (Defense), Cam Saunders (Defense), Joe Maccariello (Midfield), Adam Brodsky (Forward), Josh Koenig (Goalkeeper), Ethan Shalom (Goalkeeper)
Key Newcomers: Adam Goldberg (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Marc Tucillo (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Joe Sasso (Sr., Forward), Ryan Caruso (Jr., Defense), Alex Garguillo (Sr., Goalkeeper), Ryan Myaskovsky (Sr., Goalkeeper), Jake Gross (Sr., Defense), Thomas Gresco (Sr., Defense/Midfield), Ryan Kasakove (Sr., Midfield), Jake Rubin (Sr., Defense), Charles Carollo (Sr. Defense/Midfield), Thomas Waring (Sr., Midfield), Michael Lobo (Sr., Defense), Louis Diblasi (Sr., Goalkeeper), Sam Berkman (Jr., Midfield/Defense), Luke Nelson (Jr., Goalkeeper), Michael Avnet (So., Forward), Michael Schimbeno (So., Defense/Midfield), James Besser (So., Midfield/Defense)
Although Manalapan lost its No. 1 scorer, All-Shore midfielder and last link to the 2013 Shore Conference Tournament championship team in Rocky Garretson, there is plenty for second-year coach Kerry Eisman to like about his returning roster. The Braves worked in four sophomores as starters and another one in key minutes, which gives Manalapan a strong core for each of the next two years.
Justin Goldberg, D’Angelo Reyes, Mike Kuver and Gavin Lebright all played big minutes and Ryan Caruso also saw time in the back as a sophomore in 2016. Goldberg was second behind Garretson with seven goals, while Reyes emerged as one of the division’s better fullbacks who could make a move into the midfield this year to make the Braves more dangerous.
Manalapan also returns a handful of seniors contributors, led by midfielders Quentin Pickering, James LaSpina, and Adam Goldberg. The Braves have made a routine of splitting games between goalkeepers and seniors Alex Gargiullo and Ryan Myaskovsky are competing for time in net along with junior Luke Nelson and fellow senior Lous Diblasi. The goalkeeper spot will come into play as Manalapan tried to figure out its defensive configuration following the graduation of fullbacks Conor O’Neill and Cam Saunders. With Reyes, Kuver and Caruso back, however, Manalapan has the makings of a tough club in the back with a few dangerous advancing players in Goldberg, LaSpina and Pickering. If returning talent is any indication of success, Manalapan checks out as well as any team in A North.
Head Coach: Art Collier, 20th season
2016 Record: 9-9 (7-7, fourth in A North)
Key Returners: Zach Ferchak (Sr., Forward), Zach Shaffer (Sr., Midfield), Chris Strzalkowski (Sr., Defense), Ethan Kilmnick (Jr., Midfield), Jayson Visco (Sr., Defense), Danny Gaines (Sr., Forward), Parker Ballingall (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Louis Reale (Forward/Midfield), Owen Keusch (Defense), Ryan Tompkins (Defense), Christian Saavedra (Midfield), Michael Martinho (Forward), Connor Smith (Midfield), Colt Luzzi (Defense)
Key Newcomers: Jadyn Fankhauser (Jr.), Anthony Fiorello (Jr., Defense), Brooks Condon (Jr., Midfield), Jimmy Powell (Jr., Midfield), Tim Mojica (Sr., Forward), Tom Mojica (Sr., Midfield), Michael Calderaro (Jr., Midfield), Rob Manino (So., Goalkeeper), Mateo Jara Munoz (Sr., Midfield), John Farfan (So., Forward)
Like the three teams slotted ahead of Colts Neck in the preseason A North rankings, the Cougars lost their leading scorer (Louis Reale) to graduation but have enough back to feel good about their chances this year. In Colts Neck’s case, it also lost top defender Owen Keusch and second-leading scorer Christian Saavedra, so there will be some holes to fill if the Cougars are to transform from a .500 team to a champion in what is traditionally the Shore’s toughest division.
Senior forward Zach Ferchak is the most productive offensive player returning to Colts Neck’s lineup after he scored six goals as a junior in 2016. Senior Zach Shaffer and junior Ethan Kilmnick are also back in the midfield, while senior and basketball standout Danny Gaines will get more time playing up top. Defensively, Colts Neck will still be solid thanks to the return of senior Chris Strzalkowski.
Three key additions could make the difference for Colts Neck in 2017. Sophomore goalkeeper Rob Manino joins the varsity squad hoping to shore up the Cougars in net, while international transfers Mateo Jara Munoz and John Farfan provide some danger to the attack. Jara Munoz is a senior midfielder from Guatemala, while Farfan is a striker from Peru. If Colts Neck can reassemble its defense in the wake of Keusch’s graduation and get some goal-creation from the newcomers, the Cougars will again be in the top half of A North.
Head Coach: Anthony Sessa, fifth season
2016 Record: 5-12 (5-9, sixth in A North)
Key Returners: Jared Avila (Sr., Midfield), Jake Brower (Sr., Midfield), Saif Elsiedy (Sr., Defense/Midfield), Abelardo Herrera (Jr., Forward), Enrique Mendez (Sr., Midfield/Forward), Alexis Mayorga (Sr., Midfield), Lucas Bruckman (Jr., Defense), Phil Franco (So., Defense), Brendan Duffy (Jr., Goalkeeper), Cameron Elslager (Jr., Forward)
Key Losses: Andy Rizo (Forward), Isaiah Ladouceur (Midfield), Tommy Boyle (Defense), Alex Trajkoski (Midfield), Roger Vega (Midfield), Josue Aceituno (Forward), Colin Bertscha (Defense), Kevin Manzano (Defense), Abe Cuautle (Midfield), Nestor Romero (Midfield), Alex Soto (Midfield)
Key Newcomers: Paul Ali (Sr., Defense), Josh Deans (Sr., Defense), Andrew Greitz (Jr., Midfield), Isaac Ball (So., Forward), Noah Brower (So., Midfield), Zack Wozniak (So., Forward)
Last season got away from Freehold Boro, which battled some injuries and inconsistency en route to a sub-.500 season. Perhaps the strangest thing about the Colonials last year was that they were worse playing outside of the always-tough A North division (0-3) than they were inside of it (5-9) – with the three losses coming to Jackson Memorial, Ocean and Brick Memorial.
The Colonials lost top scoring threat Andy Rizo and center back Tommy Boyle to graduation, but also developed a handful of productive players who return this season. Senior midfielder Jake Brower pitched in three goals and three assists last year, with junior forward Abelardo Herrera settling for four goals after a strong start to his sophomore year. Seniors Jared Avila and Saif Elsiedy will also be important leaders and junior Brendan Duffy is back in goal.
The x-factor to Freehold Boro’s season is its upcoming sophomores, which include returning defender Phil Franco and newcomers Noah Brower, Zack Wozniak and Isaac Ball. Wozniak and Ball could get looks up top with Herrera and senior Enrique Mendez, with Ball vies for time in the midfield. Last year’s disappointing finish has the Colonials entering opening day against Colts Neck with a renewed determination and with no clear favorite in Class A North, Freehold Boro could wind up the beneficiary.
Head Coach: Rich Yuro, 28th season
2016 Record: 5-11 (3-11, seventh in A North)
Key Returners: Brandon Downey (Sr., Forward), Stephen Marone (Sr., Defense), Adam Jiries (Sr., Midfield), Chris Bogdan (Sr., Defense), Tom Adams (Jr., Midfield), Dylan Dougher (Jr., Forward), Robert Saunders (Jr., Midfield), Shane McBride (Jr., Goalkeeper), Joe Amitrano (Jr., Midfield), Nick Panarisi (Jr., Defense), Jason Tango (Jr., Defense), Mike Anello (So., Forward)
Key Losses: Brad Kolczynski (Midfield), Joe Masino (Forward), Ryan Leary (Midfield), Stephen Lovato (Defense), Nick Wolfe (Midfield)
Key Newcomers: Jacob Hogland (Sr., Defense), Sidhu Arakkal (Jr., Forward), Nick Cavallero (So., Midfield), Marcelo Giraldo (Jr., Midfield)
The rebuilding process has been a long, painstaking one for the Rebels since last reaching the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals in 2011. While last season only brought about incremental improvement, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel heading into this season thanks to a strong group of returning players who picked up their play over the course of the season.
Seniors Brandon Downey, Chris Bogdan, Stephen Marone and Adam Jiries have all emerged as leaders in the program and are foundational parts of the starting lineup – Downey as a scorer up top, Marone and Bogdan in the back and Jiries in the midfield. The junior class also made key contributions as sophomores, led by leading scorer Dylan Dougher and goalkeeper Shane McBride. Promising sophomore Nick Anello also pushed his way onto the varsity team as a freshman and will mix in with Dougher and Downey on the attack.
It wasn’t too long ago that Howell was a perennial contender for a Shore Conference title and while the Rebels are not at the top of the board heading into the year when it comes to the favorites to win the conference, they are higher up than in past years and could leap toward the top with a few favorable early results in A North.
Head Coach: Will Gould, first season
2016 Record: 20-2-2 (12-1-1, second in A North)
Key Returners: Brian Dates (Sr., Forward), Zach Scarpa (Sr., Midfield), Elijah Krain (Sr., Goalkeeper), Jacob Edri (Sr., Goalkeeper)
Key Losses: P.J. Ringel (Midfield), Steven Karp (Midfield), Ryan LaRocca (Defense), Josh Grun (Midfield), James Weinberg (Goalkeeper), Justin Goldstein (Defense), Dan McGrath (Defense), Jared Markowitz (Midfield), Verazdat Topuzyan (Forward), William Chiusano (Midfield), Jacob Grine (Forward), Jaden Strumeier (Jr., Defense)
Key Newcomers: Seun Majekodunmi (Sr., Forward), Brandon Grine (Sr., Forward), Jake Rosen (Sr. Midfield), Sam Rikshpun (Sr., Midfield), Pedro Perez (Fr., Midfield), Carson Friedman (Jr., Midfield), Justin Tzitis (Sr., Defense), Kyle LaRocca (Jr., Defense), Rob Aberman (Jr., Defense), Patrick Vaughn (Jr., Goalkeeper)
The Mustangs are coming off their best season since 2009 and it took them six years to get back to the Shore Conference Tournament. Like 2009, the 2016 team was overwhelmingly senior-heavy, so the task will be similar for this year’s team. The difference this year is longtime head coach Dave Santos has moved on to take the assistant head coach position at CBA and former Rumson-Fair Haven head coach and Marlboro alumnus Will Gould is in charge of the Mustangs rebuild.
On top of losing 12 seniors, Marlboro lost junior Jaden Strumaier to the U.S. Soccer residency program in Arizona, which takes a potential center midfielder off the board for the Mustangs. Strumaier started at outside back as a sophomore on last year’s senior-laden squad. Returning seniors Brian Dates and Zach Scarpa also played last year – Dates in the starting midfield and Scarpa more often than not off the bench. Dates finished second on the team with 10 assists as a junior and also added four goals.
Senior forward Brandon Grine is a leading candidate to pick up some of the goal scoring while playing at the top of the formation, while Elijah Krain and Jacob Edri will compete for the starting goalie spot. Both keepers played for a stretch of last year while starter James Weinberg was injured. With 10 spots to fill in the starting lineup and a divisional schedule that still ranks among the best in the state, Marlboro will have its hands full in Gould’s first season.
Head Coach: John Knight, 12th season
2016 Record: 2-15 (1-13, eighth in A North)
Key Returners: Wilby Alfred (Jr., Forward), Mickenna Church (Jr., Midfield), Bobby Newman (Sr., Defense), Dylan Schembri (Sr., Defense), Marlon Morales (Sr., Midfield), Ryan Gallagher (Jr., Forward), David Lizarazo (Sr., Defense), Seamus McAnee (So., Goalkeeper), Victor Martinez (Sr., Midfield), David Anderson Galindo (Sr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Sebastian Cardinas (Midfield)
Key Newcomers: Louis Pennington (So., Forward), Kyle Schembri (So., Forward), Batur Yaman (So., Midfield), Gavin Latshaw (So., Midfield), Ryan Gannon (So., Midfield)
The Scarlet Fliers’ first season in Class A North showed they have a long way to go to compete with the best of A North day-in and day-out, but they are also bringing back a long list of talented players who had a chance to learn all the lessons A North offers. Neptune did manage to win a game by knocking off Colts Neck and now the Fliers will try to win a lot more with a group that should be bigger, faster, stronger and wiser than last year’s very young team.
Juniors Wilby Alfred and Mickenna Church are back after progressing as sophomores in their first season playing in Class A North. Alfred scored seven goals last year playing at the top of the formation, while Church was a facilitator out of the midfield. In addition to Alfred and Church reprising their roles this year, seniors Marlon Morales, Bobby Newman, Dylan Schembri, Victor Martinez, David Lizarazo and David Anderson Galindo return as experienced seniors that should give the Fliers some leadership to go with their talent.
Junior Ryan Gallagher and sophomores Kyle Schembri, Batur Yaman, Ryan Gannnon and Gavin Latshaw will contribute in the attack and sophomore Seamus McAnee returns as a second-year starter in goal. Neptune is likely not as deep as the top teams in A North yet, but the Fliers have a few standout talents who could be difference makers – enough to catapult Neptune into the Shore Conference Tournament by way of success in Class A North.
XI to Watch (with 2016 stats)
Jack Gill, CBA (8 goals, 2 assists)
Joe Lozowski, CBA (7 goals, 1 assist)
John Askin, CBA (1 goal)
Zack Ferchak, Colts Neck (6 goals, 3 assists)
Wilby Alfred, Neptune (7 goals, 1 assist)
Brian Dates, Marlboro (4 goals, 10 assists)
Justin Goldberg, Manalapan (7 goals, 1 assist)
Josh Cagan, Freehold Twp. (1 goal, 1 assist)
Chris Orrico, Freehold Twp. (2 goals, 3 assists)
D’Angelo Reyes, Manalapan (2 goals, 1 assist)
Jake Brower, Freehold Boro (3 goals, 3 assists)
Goalkeepers to Watch
Brendan Duffy, Freehold Boro (2 shutouts)
Evan Nastarowicz, Freehold Twp.
Evan Wronorowski, CBA (1 shutout)
Breakout Players to Watch
Kevin Finn, Freehold Twp.
Mike Anello, Howell
Luke Pascarella, CBA
Mickenna Church, Neptune
Mateo Jara Munoz, Colts Neck