In predicted order of finish

Christian Brothers Academy

Head Coach: Tom Mulligan, third season
2017 Record: 20-3-1 (12-1-0, first in Class A North)
Returners: Dom Bellomo (Sr., Midfield), Joe Lozowski (Sr., Midfield), Charlie Daly (Sr., Midfield), Jack Gill (Sr., Forward), Jack Hempstead (Sr., Defense), Luke Pascarella (Jr., Forward), Liam Mulvey (Sr., Defense), Connor Anderko (Jr., Defense)
Key Losses: Shane Keenan (Goalkeeper), John Askin (Defense), Kevin Brennan (Midfield)
Newcomers: Eric Wnorowski (Sr., Goalkeeper), Michael Casper (Jr., Midfield), Jack Longo (So., Defense)

CBA senior Dom Belomo fights off Howell senior Rob Saunders. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Last year was supposed to be a developmental season of sorts for CBA, which lost all but one starter from a 24-1 team that finished No. 1 in N.J. in 2016. Instead, CBA won 20 games and reached the Non-Public A final for the third straight year with a team heavy on juniors, even taking a 1-0 lead to the half before losing, 4-1, to a powerhouse Delbarton side. With seven starters and a significant contributor off the bench in Connor Anderko returning, CBA has one of the state’s most imposing rosters heading into the regular season.

Dom Bellomo turned in a First-Team All-Shore season in his first year as a varsity starter and will key CBA’s attack, along with fellow seniors Joe Lozowski, Jack Gill and Charlie Daly. Luke Pascarella was a dangerous striker as a sophomore and figures to be an even more potent scorer in his second varsity season. Losing center back and current Monmouth University freshman John Askin is a hit to the defense, but Jack Hempstead and Liam Mulvey return to the back after strong showings as juniors. Eric Wnorowski replaces current UConn freshman and 2017 First Team All-Shore keeper Shane Keenan in goal and should give the Colts all they need in net.

With only seven divisional games on the schedule this season, CBA has loaded up its schedule with matches against state powers like St. Benedict’s, Delran, Peddie, Holmdel, Ocean and East Brunswick, so this will be a CBA team that is more battle-tested than any of the Colts recent state-title contenders.

 

Howell

Head Coach: Ruch Yuro, 29th season
2017 Record: 11-7-2 (8-5-1, third in Class A North)
Returners: Rob Saunders (Sr., Midfield), Dylan Dougher (Sr., Forward), Jason Tango (Sr., Defense), Shane McBride (Sr., Goalkeeper), Tom Adams (Sr., Midfield), Mike Anello (Jr., Forward), Sidhu Arakkal (Sr., Defense), Nick Cavallero (Jr., Midfield), Jared Rubman (Jr., Midfield), Nick Panarisi (Sr., Defense), Joe Amitrano (Sr., Midfield), Kyle Clark (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Brandon Downey (Forward), Stephen Marone (Defense), Adam Jiries (Midfield), Chris Bogdan (Defense), Marcelo Giraldo (Jr., Midfield) – Academy commitment
Newcomers: Eric Brew (Sr., Defense), Joe Brenner (Jr., Forward/Midfield), Pat Coughlin (Jr., Forward), Lucas Newsholme (Jr., Forward)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

Last year marked a return to Shore-wide relevance for Howell, which reached the SCT quarterfinals for the first time in seven years and also won a road game in the always-grueling South Jersey Group IV bracket before falling, 2-1, to now four-time sectional champion Washington Township. The Rebels’ junior class fueled the postseason push and now that those players are seniors, Howell is set up to do even more damage this season.

Rob Saunders was a coaches’ all-division selection in Class A North last year and will run things out of the central midfield. Dylan Dougher and junior Mike Anello are scoring threats up top and senior Jason Tango is one of the Shore’s top returning center fullbacks. The Rebels are also strong in goal with third-year starter Shane McBride back for one last run between the pipes. Although A North has a heavy favorite in CBA, the race for the public division title should be as spirited as ever and Howell’s returning core has the Rebels set up for their first divisional banner since 2011.

 

Freehold Boro

Head Coach: Mike Parshelunis, first season
2017 Record: 9-11-2 (7-6-1, fourth in Class A North)
Returners: Abel Herrera (Sr., Forward), Cam Elslager (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Isaac Ball (Jr., Forward), Brendan Duffy (Sr., Goalkeeper), Noah Brower (Jr., Midfield), Lucas Bruckman (Sr., Defense), Andrew Greitz (Sr., Forward), Jake Mostowsky (Sr., Defense), Phil Franco (Jr., Defense), Eddie Oropeza (Sr., Forward)
Key Losses: Jake Brower (Midfield), Saif Elseidy (Defense), Jared Avila (Midfield), Enrique Mendez (Midfield/Forward), Alexis Mayorga (Midfield)
Newcomers: Rob Tweedle (Jr., Midfield), Zack Wozniak (Jr., Forward), Mike Romero (So., Midfield), Steven Toshua-Saucedo (Sr., Midfield), Cristopher Poblano (Sr., Midfield/Defense)

Freehold Boro senior Cam Elslager. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Despite graduating its top scorer in Jake Brower and one of the Shore’s center backs in Saif Elseidy, Freehold Boro has a chance to emerge as a Top 10 team in the Shore Conference this season thanks to a balanced group of returning talent. It took the Colonials a few weeks to get going last year and they did get bounced in round one of the Shore Conference Tournament, but all the pieces are in place to have a stronger shower than last year.

It all starts up top for Freehold, where the Colonials have one of the Shore’s top strikers in Abel Herrera. Junior Isaac Ball also struck for six goals as a sophomore and will provide Freehold with a one-two punch up top, with senior Cam Elslager and junior Noah Brower running the show in the middle. The back line will be more of a question without Elseidy but Lucas Bruckman and Jake Mostowsky give the Colonials a pair of experienced seniors in front of a prover keeper in Brendan Duffy. The A North public title race will be a free-for-all and with some serious punch on the attack and a strong keeper in the back, Freehold Boro has as good a chance as any team to come out on top.

 

Freehold Township

Head Coach: Josh Mehl, third season
2017 Record: 15-7 (10-4, second in Class A North)
Returners: Evan Nastarowicz (Sr., Goalkeeper), Chris Orrico (Sr., Midfield), Zach Orrico (So., Midfield/Forward), Alonzo Konstantinidis (Sr., Midfield), Bennett Messinger (Jr., Midfield/Defense), Mike Farrell (So., Midfield/Defense), Evan Savino (Jr., Defense), Alex Janssen (Sr., Midfield/Defense),
Key Losses: Kevin Finn (Forward), Josh Cagan (Defense), Jon Finocchiaro (Forward), Jimmy Farrell (Midfield), Matt Finocchiaro (Midfield), Alex Langa (Forward), Nick Puglia (Midfield), Dan Gugliotta (Defense)
Newcomers: Christian Mangini (Sr., Defense), Joe Polio (Sr., Midfield), Ben Parella (Sr., Midfield/Defense), John Wilhelm (So., Goalkeeper), Joe Marchiano (Sr., Midfield), Adam Havens (So., Midfield/Forward), Joe Lardaro (So., Midfield/Defense), Aidan Szymanski (So., Defense), Cristian Corcione (Sr., Forward), Mike Poleshuck (Sr., Midfield), Jack Trainor (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Richie Beggs (Sr., Defense), Stephen Grady (Sr., Midfield), Nick Chinnici (Sr., Midfield), Branden Mesia (Sr., Midfield)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

On paper, there are some real concerns for Freehold Township heading into the season. The Patriots return only 10 goals from last year in a division that has six teams that returned at least one of its top two scorers. Only Long Branch returns a lower percentage of goals from last year, which means the Patriots will probably have to be a more defensive-minded team than some of their A North rivals.

The Patriots do, however, have some factors that play in their favor. First, the program routinely reloads and there are plenty of players with playing experience to potentially pick up the slack. Secondly, seven players – Chris Orrico (3 goals, 8 assists), Alonso Konstantinidis (1 goal, 6 assists), Mike Farrell, Zach Orrico, Bennett Messinger, Alex Janssen and Evan Savino – accounted for those 10 goals, so there is a real balance to this year’s Patriots team. Finally, Evan Nastarowicz provides a steady hand in goal and allows players like Messinger, Farrell and Janssen to be more offensive-minded this season. The addition of senior Cristian Corcione – a baseball standout with athleticism and a motor – up top will also be an x-factor as well for a team that has some issues to address but should never be counted out.

 

Manalapan

Head Coach: Kerry Eisman, third season
2017 Record: 5-9-3 (5-6-3, fifth in Class A North)
Returners: Justin Goldberg (Sr., Midfield), D’Angelo Reyes (Sr., Midfield), Ryan Caruso (Sr., Defense), Mike Kuver (Sr., Forward), Gavin Lebright (Sr., Forward), Mike Avnet (Jr., Defense/Midfield), Lucas Moreira (Jr., Defense), Luke Nelson (Sr., Goalkeeper), Sam Berkman (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Quentin Pickering (Midfield), James LaSpina (Midfield), Adam Goldberg (Midfield/Defense), Marc Tucillo (Midfield/Defense), Mike Schimbeno (Jr., Midfield) – Academy commitment
Newcomers: James Besser (Jr., Midfield), Dan Kamen (Jr., Goalkeeper), Ryan Brendli (Sr., Defense), John O’Breirne (Sr., Midfield), Jason Junquet (Jr., Forward), Andrew DeLanzo (Jr., Defense), Devin Emren (Sr., Forward), Aaron Gonzalez (Sr., Forward), Gavin Rodrigues (Jr., Midfield)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

Although last year could be classified as a disappointment for a Manalapan program with very high standards, the Braves had a roster that did not have a lot of seniors returning with experience. This year should be different, with Justin Goldberg, D’Angelo Reyes, Ryan Caruso, Mike Kuver and Gavin Lebright all back as three-year varsity contributors. Goldberg has been among the Braves’ top scorers in each of the past two seasons and Reyes has been a standout fullback who will have a chance to be more attack-minded this season.

Manalapan suffered some gut-wrenching results early in the 2017 campaign and never really recovered, so a good start should put some of those demons to rest. Even if the start is less than ideal – and with Jackson Memorial, Bridgewater-Raritan and Freehold Township queued up within the first six games, that’s at least a possibility – the Braves have enough seniors that they should keep their poise and stay in the postseason picture until the end.

 

Middletown South

Head Coach: Rob Grella, second season (ninth overall)
2017 Record: 11-8-1 (8-5-1, third in Class B North)
Returners: Jon Santos (Sr., Midfield), Tyler Jerome (Jr., Midfield), Danny Minze (Jr., Forward), Aaron Oliveira (So., Midfield)
Key Losses: Mike Zito (Midfield), Brendan Magner (Midfield), Christian Sigua (Midfield), Connell MacLellan (Midfield), Brandon Kalika (Defense), Andy Segovia (Midfield/Defense), James Glynn (Defense)
Newcomers: John Anthony Gallina (Jr., Defense), Chase Guinta (Sr., Midfield)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

One of two teams making the move from Class B North into A North, Middletown South brings back an interesting mix of proven varsity producers and inexperienced players who will have some big shoes to fill. Jon Santos was an all-division player as a junior, according to both the B North coaches and Shore Sports Network, and will be one of the Shore’s top returning midfielders in 2018. The junior duo of Tyler Jerome and Danny Minze have been key contributors since they were both freshmen and will be a major part of the attack again this year – Jerome out of the midfield and Minze at striker.

Sophomore Aaron Oliveira came on strong as a freshman and will be asked to carry a larger share of the load in the midfield with the graduation of Mike Zito, Brendan Magner, Connell MacLellan and Christian Sigua. Jerome played in the back during his first two seasons, so his move forward will put some more pressure on Middletown South’s back line. Another challenge will be the schedule, which is one of the Shore’s toughest. The Eagles are the only team that will play all of Holmdel, CBA and Ocean – the top three teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.

 

Long Branch

Head Coach: Adrian Castro, seventh season
2017 Record: 15-6 (10-4, second in Class B North)
Returners: Stiviny Silva (Sr., Forward), Jefferson Orellana (Sr., Defense), Jason Laviola (So., Midfield/Defense), Rudy Giron (Jr., Goalkeeper), Alex Tabisz (Sr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Renan Azevedo (Forward/Midfield), Venancio Fernandes (Forward), Juan Carlos Merino (Midfield), Mario Galiz (Defense), Daniel Santos Silva (Defense), Derick Rodriguez (Defense), Oscar Marmol (Midfield)
Newcomers: James McGrath (Sr., Defense), Janson Munoz (Jr., Defense), Rey Guzman (Sr., Defense), Moises Lucas (Sr.), Patrick O’Dwyer (Jr., Forward), Eric Lazo (Jr., Midfield/Forward), Jose Herrera (Sr., Forward)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

It might be a year too late for Long Branch to make the move into the division with the most sterling reputation in the Shore Conference given that the Green Wave is losing its three best offensive threats. On the other hand, Class B North was every bit as competitive as Class A North was last year and the Green Wave finished second in that field last year.

As far as replacing Venancio Fernandes, Renan Azevedo and Juan Carlos Merino goes, Long Branch will have its hands full. Stiviny Silva returns after scoring seven goals last season and figures to be the team’s most dangerous goal-scoring threat and Shore Regional transfer Patrick O’Dwyer should provide some punch up top as well. The defense should be strong in front of returning keeper Rudy Giron, but the midfield is in question because of a knee injury that could keep returning center midfielder Alex Tabisz out for most of the season. In a deep Class A North division, that might be too much to overcome, but with a one-time trip through the division, anything can happen.

 

Marlboro

Head Coach: Ryan Morris, first season
2017 Record: 1-14-2 (0-12-2, eighth in A North)
Returners: Brandon Grine (Sr., Midfield), Max Shushkovsky (Jr., Midfield), Patrick Vaughn (Sr., Goalkeeper), Kyle LaRocca (Sr., Defense), Jake Mirrer (Sr., Defense), Mike Steinberg (Jr., Midfield), Noah Rosen (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Brian Dates (Forward), Zach Scarpa (Midfield), Jacob Edri (Sr., Goalkeeper), Seun Majekodunmi (Forward), Jake Rosen (Midfield), Sam Rikshpun (Midfield), Max Dunphy (So.) – Academy commitment
Newcomers: Eric Tsirken (So., Midfield), Carson Friedman (Sr., Forward), Sam Scharf (So., Defense/Midfield), Daniel Risin (So., Forward/Midfield), Ethan Schlesinger (Jr., Defense), Ethan Steinberg (Jr., Midfield), Michael Detinich (Sr., Forward), Tate Berman (So., Defense), Max Rosen (Fr., Midfield), Matt Kaplan (Fr., Defense), Ryan Riccardi (So., Midfield), Jake Schertzer (Sr., Midfield), Garrett Zirkman (Sr., Defense), Jake Fleischman (Sr., Defense)

Photo by Steve Meyer.

Marlboro’s senior class that led the Mustangs to one of the best seasons in program history in 2016 was too much to replace last year and the result was one of the most difficult in the history of the Mustangs program. Ryan Morris takes over the program this season and will begin work laying the foundation what he hopes will be the next Marlboro team to compete with the top teams in the Shore Conference and Group IV.

Brandon Grine established himself as Marlboro’s best offensive player last season and should be a source for scoring again this season. Patrick Vaughn returns to the goal after getting some work last year and seniors Kyle LaRocc and Jake Mirrer returned to a defense that worked hard last year and was probably better than its goals-allowed numbers indicate. The rest of A North enters the season far ahead of Marlboro, but there is a lot of room for improvement after last year’s lost season.

 

XI to Watch (With 2017 Stats)

Dom Bellomo, CBA (9 goals, 5 assists)

Joe Lozowski, CBA (6 goals, 3 assists)

Jack Gill, CBA (6 goals, 6 assists)

Abel Herrera, Freehold Boro (8 goals, 3 assists)

Rob Saunders, Howell (3 goals, 5 assists)

Jon Santos, Middletown South (4 goals, 8 assists)

Dylan Dougher, Howell (7 goals, 6 assists)

Justin Goldberg, Manalapan (5 goals, 5 assists)

Stiviny Silva, Long Branch (7 goals, 6 assists)

Jason Tango, Howell (2 goals)

Jack Hempstead, CBA (3 assists)

 

Goalkeepers to Watch

Shane McBride, Howell (6 shutouts)

Evan Nastarowicz, Freehold Twp. (6 shutouts)

Eric Wnorowski, CBA

Brendan Duffy, Freehold Boro (2 shutouts)

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Luke Pascarella, CBA

Isaiah Ball, Freehold Boro

Chris Orrico, Freehold Twp.

D’Angelo Reyes, Manalapan

Patrick O’Dwyer, Long Branch