In predicted order of finish

Holmdel

Head Coach: John Nacarlo, 16th season
2017 Record: 22-1-1 (12-0-0, first in Class A Central)
Returners: Anthony Arena (Sr., Forward), Joe Arena (Sr., Midfield), Torre Avitabile (Sr., Defense), Mark Walier (Jr., Defense), Jack Russo (Sr., Defense), Jack Murray (Sr., Goalkeeper), Mark McStay (Sr., Midfield), Eric Hinds (Jr., Midfield), Jack Giamanco (Jr., Midfield/Forward)
Key Losses: Justin McStay (Forward), Mikey Neff (Defense), Cyrus Darvish (Midfield), Matt Leone (Forward/Midfield), Nick Guga (Defense/Midfield)
Newcomers: Ryan Ferguson (Sr., Midfield/Forward), Anthony DiSaverio (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Peter Vassilakos (Sr., Defense), Justin Orosz (Sr., Defense), Omar Abuattieh (Jr., Defense), Henry Kiechlen (Sr., Midfield/Forward) – transfer from CBA; Connor Hinds (So., Midfield), Byron Ng (Jr., Midfield), Jason Ng (Jr., Midfield), Ian Flanagan (Jr., Midfield), Steven Fernandes (Sr., Forward), Tommy Chyzowich (Fr., Goalkeeper)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

Six starters and a trio of key bench contributors return to the team that was hands-down the best in the Shore Conference last season and had at least a reasonable argument as the best team in all of New Jersey. Holmdel was less a team and more a force of nature last year, outscoring opponents 122-14 for the season and 49-5 during the Shore Conference and Group II Tournaments. Now the Hornets bring back Anthony Arena to lead the way after the reigning Shore Sports Network Player of the Year led the conference in goals (35) and assists (25) during his record-breaking campaign.

Despite returning Arena, Holmdel will have to replace a fair amount of offensive production with the graduation of the four top scorers after him. Senior center midfielder Joe Arena was not a big scorer, but was still a dominant midfielder who earned a First-Team All-Shore selection, as did returning center back Torre Avitabile. Mark Walier and Jack Russo also return to a stout defense in front of goalkeeper Jack Murray, who started in net as a sophomore before moving to the field last year.

Mark McStay, eric Hinds and Jack Giamanco all showed they could finish off the bench last year and will have to provide some complementary scoring for the Arena cousins. Ryan Ferguson and CBA transfer Henry Kiechlen will also help in that department and if that collection of new starters can work in with Anthony and Joe Arena, Holmdel will again be the team to beat come October.

 

Monmouth

Head Coach: Darren Spadevecchia, 15th season
2017 Record: 15-10 (7-7, fourth in Class B North)
Returners: Brian Waltsak (Sr., Midfield), Chris Anfuso (Sr., Defense), Hoover Cano (Jr., Defense), Ryan Wolff (Sr., Defense), Dominick Santaniello (So., Goalkeeper), David Lopes (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Joel Burgos (Forward), Patrick Riordan (Midfield), Henery Caeceras (Midfield)
Newcomers: Masai Mack (Sr., Defense), Ryan Hoplock (Sr., Forward), Mathis Quesada (Jr., Midfield), Sebastian Herrera (Sr., Midfield), Reynaldo Moreno (Sr., Midfield)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

Monmouth got a first-hand look at Holmdel’s dominance in the Central Jersey Group II final, in which Holmdel dumped the Falcons, 6-0. That loss was the end of a Cinderella season for Monmouth, which reached the Shore Conference quarterfinals as a No. 20 seed and made it to a sectional final for the first time since 1965. Monmouth did so on the back of first-team All-Shore striker Joel Burgos, who graduated in the spring and took his 30 goals with him.

While replacing Burgos will be a tall order, the Falcons have a chance to keep their momentum from last year’s season going with the return of some key supporting players from last year’s squad. Brian Waltsak posted 12 goals and 13 assists as a junior and will be the leading man this season, while Chris Anfuso, Hoover Cano, Ryan Wolff and David Lopes form a strong back line in front of sophomore standout Dominick Santaniello in goal. The way the Falcons get their wins this year might be a little different without Burgos, but the wins should keep coming after a breakthrough 2017 season.

 

Manasquan

Head Coach: Tom McGill, fifth season
2017 Record: 9-10-1 (5-8-1, sixth in Class B North)
Returners: Sam Del Guercio (Sr., Midfield), Matt Drake (Sr., Forward), Tommy Johnson (So., Forward), Frank Manno (Jr., Forward), Ethan Dzenis (Sr., Midfield), Tim Wheat (Sr., Defense), Chris Pierro (Jr., Defense), Edwin Osorio (Sr., Midfield), Brady Barry (Jr., Midfield), Louis Cajas (Jr., Midfield), Tyler Guagenty (Jr., Midfield), Tom Guzzo (Jr., Defense), Rich Maloney (Jr., Defense), Tyler Sperdutto (Jr., Midfield), Sean Wanamaker (Jr., Goalkeeper), Liam Diamond (So., Midfield)
Key Losses: Chris Black (Defense), Chris Capone (Midfield), Nick Bilotti (Midfield), Dulio Guerrero (Forward), Simon Cardenas (So., Midfield) – Academy commitment
Newcomers: Drew Greenblatt (Jr., Midfield) – transfer from Jackson Memorial; Joe Weinstein (Jr., Goalkeeper) – transfer from Jackson Memorial; Mike Muscato (Sr., Defense), Caeden Miller (Jr., Midfield), Jack Bricken (Jr., Midfield), Jack McHugh (Jr., Defense), Mike Cafiero (Fr., Forward), Gavin O’Day (Sr., Goalkeeper)

Photo provided by Tom McGill.

Although Manasquan benefited from one of the Shore’s better defenders in Chris Black, the Warriors suffered through some growing pains last season consistent with that of a young, inexperienced team. That is why the loss of Black and fellow senior Chris Capone (four goals from the midfield last year), while significant, should not stop Manasquan from taking a big step forward this season.

Tommy Johnson was the top freshman scorer in the Shore Conference with 14 goals and only six returning players found the net more frequently than Johnson did last year. He joins seniors Matt Drake, Sam Del Guercio, Frank Manno and Ethan Dzenis back on the attack this season and junior Jackson Memorial transfer Drew Greenblatt will join that group after scoring four goals for the Jaguars last year. Junior goalkeeper Joe Weinstein also transferred from Jackson Memorial and is healthy after missing his sophomore year with a knee injury – a disappointing follow-up to a breakout freshman season. It might take some time to gel, but Manasquan’s ceiling is that of a Top 10 team.

 

Shore

Head Coach: Christian Pontier, ninth season
2017 Record: 12-9-1 (7-4-1, tied second in Class A Central)
Returners: Ryan Bongarzone (Sr., Midfield/Forward), Taylor Sousa (Sr., Defense), Chris Panduri (Sr., Goalkeeper), Kadison Bates (Sr., Midfield), Max Cameron (Sr., Defense), Garrett Freund (Sr., Defense), Michael Adams (Sr., Midfield), Brandon DeNovaes (Sr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Marcopolo DeOliveira (Forward), Jeremy Lang (Midfield), Chris LaMarca (Midfield), Leo Montesinos (Midfield/Forward) – transferred to Ocean
Newcomers: Matt Klesmer (Sr., Forward), Conor Creighton (Jr., Midfield), James Donohue (Jr., Midfield), Cory Moeller (So., Midfield), Kevin Silveira (So., Midfield), Griffin Barfield (Fr., Defense), Charlie Creighton (Fr., Defense), Donovan Daris (Fr., Midfield), Joao Victor Fonte Boa (Fr., Midfield), Christopher Hazel (Fr., Midfield), Will LaBruno (Fr., Forward), Liam McKeon (Fr., Defense), Jack Walker (Fr., Midfield), Benjamin Wellner (Fr., Defense), Nick Poulos (So., Goalkeeper)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

Shore’s prospects for this season took a big hit when Leo Montesinos transferred to Ocean, ripping 16 goals and a dominant playmaker from last year’s lineup. What makes it all the more tantalizing is Shore was set to lose only three seniors from its starting lineup and appeared to be a real threat to challenge for a top-five position in the Shore Conference this season.

The good news is the Blue Devils still have a senior-laden team, led by forward Ryan Bongarzone, center back Taylor Sousa and goalkeeper Chris Panduri. Bongarzone scored five times last year and Sousa provided four goals and three assists from his spot in the back, so the Blue Devils do return some scoring ability despite the loss of Montesinos. Kadison Bates, Michael Adams, Brandon DeNovaes and Conor Creighton will take on greater roles this season and with so many seniors in the group overall, Shore will still be a factor in Central Jersey Group II as the calendar turns to November.

 

Raritan

Head Coach: Gregg Cohen, first season
2017 Record: 9-7-4 (4-5-3, fifth in Class A Central)
Returners: Zach May (Sr., Defense), Jake Fortune (Sr., Midfield), Nick Bavaro (Sr., Forward), Anthony Sparacino (Sr., Forward), Connor Smith (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Ryan Goggins (Midfield), Tom Savin (Forward/Midfield), Nick Benoit (Defense), Matt Lazicki (Midfield), Michael Romeo (Goalkeeper)
Newcomers: Gavin Hersey (So., Goalkeeper)

Two years removed from winning a Class A Central co-title, Raritan still has some links to that team remaining and will lean heavily on those players to lead the way in 2018. Senior center back Zach May and senior midfielder Jake Fortune were prominent players on Raritan’s 13-win team two years ago and will collectively be the focal point of the team this season, with Fortune coming off a six-goal, seven-assist season.

Last year’s breakout scorer is back as well, with striker Nick Bavaro back up top after pouring in 13 goals as a junior in 2017. Anthony Sparacino also provided eight goals for the Rockets last year, giving Raritan three dangerous threats on offense to go with a steady presence in the back in May. Sophomore goalkeeper Gavin Hersey will be an x-factor for the Rockets, but the returning offensive firepower will make Raritan a dangerous opponent for any team.

 

Rumson-Fair Haven

Head Coach: Sean Reid, second season
2017 Record: 13-7-2 (7-4-1, tied second in Class A Central)
Returners: Kiel Forlenza (Jr., Defense), Jack Harvey (Jr., Goalkeeper), Evan Quan (So., Midfield/Defense), Thomas Maltabono (Sr., Forward), Andrew Singleton (Jr., Midfield), Jamie Goodwyn (Sr., Defense/Midfield)
Key Losses: Owen Greengrove (Midfield), Jeremy Nives (Midfield), Luke DiStefano (Defense), Leo Maita (Forward), Cole Lee (Midfield), Arthur Grubert (Defense), Justin Callahan (Midfield), Daniel Craig (Defense), George Sellig (Forward)
Newcomers: Sean Allingham (So., Midfield/Defense), Luke Pentikis (Fr., Forward), Danny Braniff (So., Defense), Joe Anglione (So., Defense), Petton Ming (Jr., Defense), Bryce Mevorach (Jr., Midfield), John Lizotte (Sr., Defense)

Photo by Steve Meyer

Despite its Group II status, Rumson routinely boasts one of the deeper programs at the Shore and the Bulldogs will need that depth to replace all of their 48 goals from a year ago. Jeremy Nives was an All-Shore performer who stepped up in the postseason and Owen Greengrove battled through injury to put up seven goals. Replacing those two is hard enough, but the supporting cast of scorers is all gone as well.

Juniors Kiel Forlenza and Jack Harvey return as starters, Forlenza on the back line and Harvey in the goal. With senior leader Jamie Goodwyn also filling a defensive position, Rumson is shaping up to be a team that has a handle on things near its own goal. If the Bulldogs can put together some scoring behind Thomas Maltabono, Andrew Singleton and freshman forward Luke Pentikis, the rebuild will quickly turn into a reload at Rumson.

 

Red Bank Catholic

Head Coach: John Butler, fourth season
2017 Record: 6-15-1 (1-13-0, eighth in Class B North)
Returners: Andrew Schweizer (Sr., Goalkeeper), Alex Nichols (Sr., Midfield), Terence Carroll (Sr., Midfield), Sean Wosleger (Sr., Defense), Andrew Colannino (Sr., Defense), John Duffy (Sr., Defense), Ryan Golden (Sr., Defense), Jake Keefe (Sr., Defense), Diego Volpe (So., Midfield), Michael DeLeonardis (So., Midfield), Christian Quindes (Jr., Midfield), Nick Mullaney (Sr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Blaise Tamburri (Forward), Christian Simoes (Midfield), Sebastian Pena (Midfield), Steve Slattery (Midfield), Jack Passarella (Midfield)
Newcomers: Sam Garcia (Fr., Defense), Henry Havard (Fr., Defense), James Kelly (Fr., Midfield), Anthony Muniz (Fr., Defense)

Red Bank Catholic’s 2017 season was an improvement from the previous two seasons, but the progress is even more noteworthy considering how much better the Caseys played once goalkeeper Andrew Schweizer returned to the lineup in late September. After the team surrendered 36 goals during a 1-7 start to the season, the Caseys gave up 35 during a 5-8-1 stretch to finish the season – one that included a first-round win over Paul VI in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A Playoffs and 2-2 draw vs. Rumson shortly before that.

Schweizer is one of the Shore’s top returning keepers and senior Alex Nichols is RBC’s top returning scorer after posting 10 goals as a junior. Sophomore Diego Volpe and senior Terence Carroll also contributed to the scoring last year and with a steady presence in goal, an easier schedule and some more confidence following a respectable finish to 2017, Red Bank Catholic could be in line for its first .500 season in more than a decade.

 

 

XI to Watch (With 2017 Stats)

Anthony Arena, Holmdel (35 goals, 25 assists)

Joe Arena, Holmdel (4 goals, 4 assists)

Brian Waltsak, Monmouth (12 goals, 13 assists)

Torre Avitabile, Holmdel (1 assist)

Tommy Johnson, Manasquan (14 goals, 4 assists)

Jake Fortune, Raritan (6 goals, 7 assists)

Taylor Sousa, Shore (4 goals, 3 assists)

Zach May, Raritan (1 assist)

Kiel Forlenza, Rumson-Fair Haven

Nick Bavaro, Raritan (13 goals, 3 assists)

Alex Nichols, Red Bank Catholic (11 goals, 1 assist)

 

Goalkeepers to Watch

Andrew Schweitzer, Red Bank Catholic (2 shutouts)

Dominick Santaniello, Monmouth (7 shutouts)

Chris Panduri, Shore (6 shutouts)

Jack Murray, Holmdel

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Drew Greenblatt, Manasquan

Ryan Bongarzone, Shore

Joe Weinstein, Manasquan (GK)

Ryan Ferguson, Holmdel

Mathis Quesada, Monmouth

 

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