One round of the Shore Conference Tournament is in the books and it featured four road teams pulling off an upset. One might think that means the Top 10 is due for an overhaul, but the four favorites that lost on Saturday were not top-10 teams in the previous installment – although Pinelands was the No. 10 seed in the tournament.

In fact, the top-10 list you are about to read is exactly how I would have seeded the first 10 teams in the tournament were I given any say-so. The last update to the SCT Watch did not include Manalapan’s win over Howell, Wall’s win over Ocean nor CBA’s win over Freehold Township – all of which should have altered or cemented some positions in the rankings.

This is the first of two rankings to come up while the tournament is still in progress so by the end of the SCT, there will have been three weekly SSN Top 10’s affected by the SCT. Given that all 10 teams in this week’s poll are still playing, this one is likely to have been impacted the least.

1. Holmdel (13-0, 6-0) Last Week: 1

It appears as though Anthony Arena is all the way back after scoring two goals in each of Holmdel’s last two wins, which means a team that went unbeaten during the regular season will be as dangerous as ever now that the games are even more meaningful.

2. Christian Brothers Academy (12-3, 6-1) Last Week: 2

Jackson Memorial got the nod at No. 2 among the seeding committee, but CBA will stay No. 2 behind a very strong out-of-division schedule. Jackson’s loss to Southern is very similar to CBA’s Howell loss and if Jackson had to play Holmdel and St. Benedict’s, it’s safe to say the Jaguars would likely have three losses as well.

3. Jackson Memorial (11-1, 6-1) Last Week: 3

Jackson had enough of a case for No. 2 that the Jaguars actually got there for the Shore Conference Tournament. Whatever debate exists between CBA and Jackson Memorial could very well be settled on the field if both teams can make it to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.

4. Ocean (12-3, 6-1) Last Week: 5

Losing to Wall wasn’t the greatest final impression to make prior to the Shore Conference Tournament, but the Spartans should still like their chances to challenge for a title. Ocean is in a very similar position as the one it was in last year, when the Spartans reached the SCT final as a No. 5 seed.

5. Southern (8-4-1, 4-1-1) Last Week: 7

This is the highest Southern has climbed in the top 10 this season and it is the result of the Rams playing well at the moment. This four-game winning streak – all eight Southern wins this season have been part of two four-game winning streaks – includes a win over Jackson Memorial and a win like that has also got to carry some weight.

6. Manalapan (7-5-2, 4-2-1) Last Week: Not ranked

Since dropping to 4-5-2 with a loss to Toms River East last Saturday, Manalapan has won three straight – the first two of which got the Braves into the Shore Conference Tournament and the last of which was over St. Rose to advance to the SCT round of 16. The biggest of the three wins was a 3-0 triumph over Howell, which clinched both a spot in the SCT as well as the Class A North public division title.

7. Freehold Twp. (7-4-2, 4-3-0) Last Week: 6

With losses to CBA, Manalapan and Jackson Memorial, Freehold Township is still looking for the signature win beyond beating Howell in the second week of the season. The Patriots played Jackson Memorial very tough and should be prepared for a potential trip to Ocean if that is the SCT quarterfinal matchup that shakes out.

8. Wall (11-3, 5-2) Last Week: 8

Manalapan vaulting back into the picture with its three-win week holds up Wall from moving up a spot or two. The Crimson Knights picked up a big win over Ocean on Wednesday, which gives them a pretty good case to break into the top five. The difference between No. 9 and No. 4 is not all that significant and Wall lands at No. 8 over Howell because of an edge in record vs. common opponents (3-1 vs. 2-2).

9. Howell (10-5, 4-3) Last Week: 4

Speaking of No. 9, Howell takes the largest plunge this week after losing three straight against Toms River South, Middletown North and Manalapan. The Rebels went from a potential top-four seed to falling out of a round-of-16 home game, meaning losing to Middletown North and Manalapan might have cost Howell two home games. With a win over CBA, though, the Rebels have to be considered for a top-five spot if they can get to the quarterfinals and put forth a good showing vs. Holmdel.

10. Manasquan (10-4, 5-1) Last Week: Not ranked

Manasquan climbs back into the top 10 while in the midst of a five-game winning streak, which was preceded by three straight losses to Wall, Holmdel and Middletown South. With a junior-heavy roster and a sophomore leading scorer, the Warriors figured to be a more dangerous entity later in the season and that appears to be the case.

 

Dropped Out

Marlboro (6-5-3, 2-4-1) Last Week: 9 – Marlboro qualified for the SCT last Monday with a win over Toms River East, then took a 4-1 loss vs. Middletown South and a penalty-kick loss vs. Raritan in the SCT to knock the Mustangs off track.

Toms River North (8-3-3, 4-2-1) Last Week: 10 – Every team in the top 10 has a win over another team in the top 10, so with just a win over unranked Toms River North topping its resume, Toms River North is a little short of the mark. The Mariners have a chance to change that Wednesday at Ocean.

 

Top 10 Watch List

Toms River East (8-5, 3-3) – The Raiders earned their shot against Holmdel by beating Freehold Boro and given they have been in every game this year, the No. 1 seed should expect a battle.

Colts Neck (7-6, 5-2) – Over the last two weeks, Colts Neck is 5-1 with wins over Wall, Middletown South and Pinelands and just a slip-up vs. Shore. The Cougars look like a serious SCT threat as a No. 23 seed.

Pinelands (9-4, 7-0) – The Wildcats were hoping for another shot to prove themselves against a team like Jackson Memorial, but they couldn’t get out of the first round. A really difficult first-round game against an under-seeded Colts Neck team and a red card did Pinelands in.

Lacey (11-2, 6-1) – A loss to Pinelands makes it hard to put Lacey ahead of the B South champs in the pecking order, but a win over Toms River South at least makes it a possibility. With an SCT round-of-16 game at Jackson Memorial coming up, the Lions have a chance climb into the top 10 anyway.

Freehold Boro (6-6-1, 1-4-1) – A win over Wall still looks good but the Colonials have done their best work earlier in the year.

Raritan (6-6-1, 4-2-0) – The Rockets are still kicking in the SCT after a win in penalties over Marlboro. Beating Freehold Township on Wednesday would really move the needle.

 

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