Boys Soccer – SSN Top 10, Oct. 16
With the Shore Conference Tournament seeded at the end of last week, there aren’t too many surprises in this week’s edition of the top 10. A few games from Friday and Saturday altered the rankings somewhat, but if you have seen the SCT seeds and followed the SCT Watch over the early part of last week, the latest top 10 shouldn’t offer many surprises. The Shore Conference Tournament, on the other hand, will likely offer plenty of them.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (15-2, 12-1) Last Week: 1
CBA is the No. 1 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and rightfully so. The Colts have just one loss in a tough Class A North division and defeated the likes of Peddie, DeMatha (Md.) and Chaminade (N.Y.) outside the division. Their most impressive result actually remains a 4-2 loss to St. Benedict’s, the No. 1 team in the USA Today Super 25 national ranking that needed two goals in the final 43 seconds of regulation to put the Colts away.
2. Holmdel (13-1, 12-0) Last Week: 2
Holmdel has bounced back from its only loss of the season – a 1-0 decision at Pingry – by beating Rumson-Fair Haven, St. John Vianney and Raritan by a combined score of 19-2. The question of how Holmdel will fare against one of the top-10 teams in the Shore Conference Tournament or a team like Delran in the NJSIAA Tournament will linger heading into the week, but the Hornets’ dominance to this point makes their status as the No. 2 team in the rankings unchallenged.
3. Jackson Memorial (14-2-1, 11-2-1) Last Week: 5
The Jaguars climb to their highest ranking of the season thanks to a perfect 3-0 week that wrapped up the program’s first Shore Conference Class A South division championship since 2012. That year, Holmdel handed Jackson Memorial its first loss in the SCT semifinals, so the Jaguars will look to make a run to the SCT final four and return the favor to the Hornets in a potential semifinal showdown.
4. Freehold Township (11-5, 10-4) Last Week: 4
Freehold Township’s 2-0 loss to Manalapan on the cutoff day for the Shore Conference Tournament illustrates the inconsistency of the Patriots, as well as the challenge of playing in Class A North. Freehold Township won at CBA on Oct. 6 and looked like to have a strong case as the No. 3 seed in the SCT prior to the loss to the Braves and, fortunately for the Patriots, Howell also lost to Freehold Boro on Thursday. That allowed Freehold Township to snatch the No. 4 seed, which will keep the Pats at home – where they are 7-1 – for the first three rounds of the tournament, assuming they continue to advance.
5. Ocean (13-2, 13-1) Last Week: 6
Back-to-back losses to Freehold Boro and Middletown North are far in the rearview mirror for the Spartans, who have won 10 straight with no signs of letting up. Last year, the Spartans ran into a buzzsaw in the SCT when No. 20 Holmdel beat them 4-1 in the round of 16, but this year, Ocean’s draw is better and they are determined not to let that happen again.
6. Pinelands (13-1-1, 12-1-1) Last Week: 7
For the first time in 28 years, Pinelands is the Class B South champion in boys soccer. The Wildcats put the division away with a 3-0 week last week despite missing leading scorer Dominic Dos Santos, who battled a minor knee injury. Pinelands will be back to full strength this week, as the Wildcats look to advance to the SCT semifinals for the first time in program history.
7. Howell (8-5-1, 8-5-1) Last Week: 3
The Rebels entered last week on an eight-game winning streak and now enter the SCT on a three-game losing streak. The week started with a 1-0 loss at CBA that seemed to take some wind out of Howell’s sail. Despite that loss, the Rebels still had a chance to win the Class A North public division title, but losses to Freehold Boro and Colts Neck eliminated that possibility. Despite the rough week, Howell is preparing for its first SCT appearance since 2011, when it was upset by Holmdel in the quarterfinals as a No. 3 seed. The Rebels hope to earn a shot at payback: Howell would face Holmdel should both teams reach the quarterfinals.
8. Toms River South (9-4-1, 9-4-1) Last Week: 8
The Indians ended their regular season with back-to-back losses at Toms River North and Southern, the first of which ended their hopes of an outright division title. By the time Toms River South took the field against Southern on Friday, any chance of a division championship share was also gone, so the Indians deserve a pass for taking their foot off the gas in preparation for this week.
9. Freehold Boro (8-8-1, 7-6-1) Last Week: 9
Although Freehold Boro is only a .500 team, the Colonials have a strong collection of wins without any really ugly losses. A draw against Colts Neck and a last-minute loss to Manalapan are the only results resembling a blemish on the resume. Meanwhile, Freehold Boro has also defeated both Ocean and Howell while losing to CBA and Freehold Township twice each and Jackson Memorial once.
10. Long Branch (11-4, 9-4) Last Week: Not ranked
The Green Wave are back in the top 10 after bouncing back from an ugly loss at Middletown South with wins over Manasquan and Monmouth. Long Branch will be a dangerous No. 11 seed, but might have to knock off Pinelands in the round of 16 to solidify its spot in the rankings.
Point Pleasant Boro (9-2-3, 8-2-3) Last Week: 10 – The Panthers drop out through no real fault of their own. They have not lost in 10 games and will have a chance to climb in the rankings if they can win two games in the SCT.
On the Bubble
Brick Memorial (8-4-4, 6-4-4) – The Mustangs have been all about sharing lately, with as many draws (three) as wins over their last eight games.
Southern (7-6-1, 7-5-1) – A win over Toms River South on Friday should light a fire under the Rams heading into the SCT.
Toms River North (6-5-2, 6-5-2) – The Mariners have not lost in their last five games and had won four straight before tying Brick Memorial on Friday.
Middletown South (10-5-1, 8-5-1) – A second win over Middletown North capped a resurgent regular-season for the Eagles, who officially finished third in the B North standings.
Rumson-Fair Haven (10-4-1, 7-4-1) – An injury to Owen Greengrove has slowed the Bulldogs, who will have to play without their standout midfielder for at least the Shore Conference Tournament due to a concussion.