As it tends to do, the Shore Conference Tournament threw a wrench into the Top 10. Last week saw a top-five team lose to a No. 20 seed in the round of 16, the No. 9 team fall below .500 and the No. 1 seed drop out on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. There is still some potential for upheaval in the final two rounds in the Shore Conference Tournament and either way, next week will be a step closer to the final picture.


1. Holmdel (15-1, 12-0) Last Week: 2

The Hornets are back in the No. 1 spot not only because CBA bowed out of the Shore Conference Tournament on Saturday, but also because Holmdel scored five first-half a Howell team that lost to CBA, 1-0, in the last meeting between the teams. Either Holmdel will finish off its first ever SCT and plant its flag at the top of the rankings, or one of the other teams will take over No. 1, which has never seemed like it was all that close to happening until now.

2. Christian Brothers Academy (16-2-1, 12-1-0) Last Week: 1

While CBA does not yet drop below No. 2 in the rankings, the Colts are in position to fall depending on the outcome of the final two rounds of the Shore Conference Tournament this week. Toms River South can add to its case as the No. 2 team by beating Ocean, while Ocean can do the same by beating the team that just knocked out CBA in a shootout. For now, though, CBA’s resume remains better than the teams below them, plus the Colts were eliminated on penalty kicks rather than defeated straight up.

3. Jackson Memorial (16-2-1, 11-2-1) Last Week: 3

Jackson Memorial’s case to be the No. 2 team is that the Jaguars went 1-0-1 against Toms River South this year and is still playing in the SCT. CBA still has a little bit more to brag about outside of its division, but for the first time in a long time, just saying “A North” and dropping the mic doesn’t work so well. With a good performance on Monday against Holmdel, it might be hard keeping the Jaguars out of the No. 2 spot.

4. Toms River South (11-4-2, 9-4-1) Last Week: 8

A shootout victory over CBA boosts the Indians into the top five and the only reason they did not move up to No. 2 is because it was a draw that went to penalty kicks rather than a straight up win. The losses to Southern, Brick Memorial, Toms River North and Jackson Memorial are still holding them back some as well. With that being said, Toms River South can move up again by winning its first ever Shore Conference Tournament and a win over Ocean in the semifinals would solidify the No. 4 spot.

5. Ocean (15-2-1, 13-1-0) Last Week: 5

The Spartans hold at No. 5 after three close calls last week against teams that were unranked in the last top 10. At the end of the week though, Ocean’s unbeaten streak is at 13 games and the Spartans will look to extend that run against Toms River South on Monday. The last time the two programs met, Toms River South topped Ocean in the 2015 Group III semifinals at a “neutral site” in Toms River so it’s only air that Ocean get a neutral-site game against the Indians that will be on its home field.

6. Pinelands (15-2-1, 12-1-1) Last Week: 6

Given the 4-0 loss to Jackson Memorial on Friday, there is a significant gap between Pinelands and the top five at the moment. A good showing by Jackson in the final four could change that by next week, but more than likely, the Wildcats’ next chance to get back into the top five will come into the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III Tournament.

7. Long Branch (12-5, 9-4) Last Week: 10

The Green Wave lost a competitive, testy game at Pinelands, so as the second-place team in a B North division that has performed well overall in the SCT, Long Branch fits in behind Pinelands and ahead of Freehold Township – which lost to Monmouth. To stay in this neighborhood, Long Branch might have to make some noise in Central Jersey Group IV.

8. Monmouth (11-8, 7-6) Last Week: Not ranked

The Falcons make their first appearance in any area top 10 for the first time in 10 years thanks to two SCT wins over two of the better public school programs in the Shore. Monmouth knocked off a surging Toms River North squad, 2-1, and then took out No. 4 seed Freehold Township on the road. The only other team to win at Freehold Township this year was CBA, so that was a significant accomplishment. The Falcons went out in a blaze of glory, losing a 4-3 classic to Ocean in the quarterfinals.

9. Freehold Township (12-6, 10-4) Last Week: 4

Not only did Freehold Township lose to No. 20 Monmouth, but beating CBA lost some of its luster now that the Colts are out of the SCT before the semifinals. The Patriots are looking at a seed in the middle of the pack of Central Jersey Group IV, so they will get an opportunity to make an impact early in the tournament by beating at least one more team of consequence.

10. Howell (10-6-1, 8-5-1) Last Week: 7

The Rebels scored two resounding SCT wins over Barnegat and Wall before running into the Holmdel buzz saw. Like Freehold Township, Howell will have a chance to improve its top-10 stock in a very difficult South Jersey Group IV bracket next week.


Dropped Out

Freehold Boro (8-10-1, 7-6-1) Last Week: 9 – With a loss to Middletown South in the SCT and another regular season defeat to Lacey, the Colonials fall out of the top 10.


On the Bubble

Point Pleasant Boro (10-3-4, 8-3-3) – The Panthers had a letdown against Barnegat on Friday, but before that, they pushed Ocean into a round of penalty kicks, which was the only game Ocean has not won outright over the last 13 matches.

Middletown South (10-6-1, 7-5-1) – The Eagles picked up an SCT win over Freehold Boro and battled CBA in a 2-0 loss in the round of 16. Middletown South has a chance to finish third in B North by beating Monmouth this week.

Southern (9-7-1, 7-5-1) – A loss to Raritan kept the Rams from jumping into the top 10, but Southern has wins over Jackson Memorial and Toms River South, which has to keep them in consideration.

Toms River North (6-6-2, 6-5-2) – Like Southern, Toms River North has wins over Jackson Memorial and Toms River South, which has the Mariners on the doorstep of the top 10 despite losing to Monmouth.

Shore (9-8-1, 7-4-1) – The Blue Devils are playing their best at the right time of year and will head into the Central Jersey Group I playoffs as arguably the most dangerous team in the bracket after testing themselves against the likes of Holmdel and Haddonfield.


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