The fall sports season begins in less than a month, and the unofficial march toward the opening day of soccer season begins with the summer tournaments. For many Shore Conference teams – 18 to be exact – the season starts with the Toms River North Kick-off Classic at Bey Lea Park in Toms River on Saturday and Sunday. Here is a look at the teams that will be heading to Toms River over the weekend, as well as a trio of Shore teams heading to the Harrison Summer Soccer Tournament, which begins on Friday evening.

 

Ocean striker Wadneson Alexis (19) scored 12 goals as a sophomore in 2013. Ocean is one of 18 Shore Conference teams slated to play at the Toms River North Kick-Off Classic this weekend. (Photo by Cliff Lavelle)

Toms River North Kick-Off Classic

Brick

With most of its starting lineup back this season, Brick will trot out a group that is familiar with one another but has not experienced success together yet. While preseason games are mostly throwaway matches, Brick could benefit greatly from a good weekend in Toms River as the Green Dragons look to have a bounce-back season.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Toms River North 2, 8 a.m.
vs. Spotswood, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Sayreville, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Plainfield, 1 p.m.

 

Brick Memorial

Last year was an important one for the Mustangs because they made strides on the field and in the standings while playing a lot of players who planned to return in 2014. With its top three scorers due back this season, Brick Memorial could be a sleeper come September and is certainly worth a look this weekend.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. J.P. Stevens, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Ramsey, 1 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Paramus, 8 a.m.
vs. Delran 2, 11:20 a.m.

 

Central

With one of the top returning scoring duos at the Shore, Central is a team to watch this season, both in the conference and certainly within the Class B South division. This could be a make-or-break year for Central, so the Golden Eagles will likely be a team on a mission from Day One, which means they should be competitive against a pretty good collection of opponents, particularly on Day 2 of the tournament.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Egg Harbor, 8 a.m.
vs. Delran 3, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Bergen Catholic, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Old Bridge, 1 p.m.

 

Donovan Catholic

A lot has changed in a year at Monsignor Donovan, starting with a new name: Donovan Catholic. The Griffins quietly had a great season last year, which went unnoticed by some because they ran into very tough teams in Rumson-Fair Haven and Christian Brothers Academy in their two postseason tournament losses. Most of last year’s team was seniors, so there will be a lot of spots to fill and even more goals to replace.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Matawan, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Northern Valley, 1 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Don Bosco, 8 a.m.
vs. Northern Valley, 11:20 a.m.

 

Holmdel

Last season was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts for Holmdel, and while it did not measure up to the championship-level seasons of 2010, 2011 and 2012, it was anything but a rebuilding year. This year’s Hornets will be looking to replace three key seniors, but return a wealth of field talent in front of an All-Shore-caliber keeper in Tyler Marchiano. As usual, Holmdel will run with some high-quality competition from outside the Shore in Toms River.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Shawnee, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Waldwick, 1 p.m.

Sunday
vs. J.P. Stevens, 8 a.m.
vs. Don Bosco, 11:20 a.m.

 

Jackson Liberty

With a young team and a new coach last year, it was hard to see Jackson Liberty doing much more than developing some talent while taking its lumps. Instead, the Lions went 10-7 – 9-5 in the division – and are set up to be even better with most of their top contributors back.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Spotswood, 8 a.m.
vs. Toms River North 2, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Dallas PA, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Northern Valley-Old Tappan, 1 p.m.

 

Jackson Memorial

A lot of what Jackson Memorial did last season revolved around senior Garrett Muzikowski, so playing without him this season will be an adjustment. Despite that, the Jaguars will still make teams earn goals, and they have a nice group of initiated talent that contributed last year. Another note about Jackson: they come to play during the preseason. Old Bridge, Ramapo, Wall and Delran are all quality teams and Jackson Memorial will be out to beat all of them this weekend.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Old Bridge, 8 a.m.
vs. Ramapo, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Wall, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Delran 3, 1 p.m.

 

Lacey

With a new coaching staff in place, Lacey will be one of the mysteries of the tournament, and not just because the Lions only play two games over the weekend. Lacey turned in a quality season last year with a team that had some questions regarding its scoring and experience, and many of those questions appear to be less daunting this season.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Middletown North, 8 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Northern Valley-Old Tappan, 9:40 a.m.

 

Matawan

The Huskies were one of the most improved teams in the Shore Conference thanks to a senior class that stepped up when it was their turn to lead the way, even after enduring an 0-12 division record the previous year. Matawan returns a number of key players this year, so the improvement could very well continue into this August.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Monsignor Donovan, 9:40 a.m.
vs. J.P. Stevens, 1 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Waldwick, 8 a.m.
vs. Paramus, 11:20 a.m.

 

Middletown North

The lone Class A North team in Toms River over the weekend, Middletown North is looking to replace a good deal of its goal-scoring from last season. A fair amount of 2013 starters came from the Class of 2015, so the Lions will have some continuity going into the 2014 season, even though not much goal-scoring is back.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Lacey, 8 a.m.
vs. Northern Valley-Old Tappan, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Delran 2, 8 a.m.
vs. Northern Valley, 11:20 a.m.

 

Ocean

With most of the players from the 2012 Shore Conference championship team now gone, Ocean will try to get started on another push for a championship sometime in the next two seasons. Last year’s sophomore class made a notable impact on a 12-3-5 team that won Class B North and advanced to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for a second straight year. The Spartans are always an organized team and should have enough talent to make them worth a watch over the weekend and beyond.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Northern Valley, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Absegami, 1 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Toms River East, 8 a.m.
vs. East Brunswick, 11:20 a.m.

 

Raritan

The Rockets are coming off their best season since the loaded 2009 team reached the Central Jersey Group II final and the Shore Conference semifinals. Raritan returns a large chunk of a balanced scoring attack from last year, as well as some significant talent in the back. The pipeline also has some talent potentially ready to push through to the high school level, so Raritan could be an interesting follow this preseason.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Delran 3, 8 a.m.
vs. Southern, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Toms River South, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Egg Harbor, 1 p.m.

 

Shore

Most years that don’t end in a division title for Shore are a disappointment, but injuries and inexperience were the side stories in a second-place finish to Point Beach in B Central last year. With a healthier, older side, Shore should take a step forward this year and the difference in maturity should show early in the season.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Waldwick, 9:40 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Ramsey, 8 a.m.
vs. Ramapo, 11:20 a.m.

 

Southern

After challenging for division titles over the previous couple of seasons, Southern struggled last season with a lot of new starters on board. There will be some scoring questions going into camp – as there will be with most teams – but the Rams are hoping they got a lot of the growing pains out of their system last year.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Sayreville, 8 a.m.
vs. Raritan, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Old Bridge, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Delran 1, 1 p.m.

 

Toms River East

Toms River East was the last of the three Toms River public school teams standing last season after knocking off Toms River North in the South Jersey Group IV playoffs and will look to ride that wave of momentum into this season. The Raiders return an athletic group from last year, which usually is a good start in Class A South.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. East Brunswick, 9:40 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Ocean, 8 a.m.
vs. Absegami, 11:20 a.m.

 

Toms River North

As usual, the tournament’s host team will field two squads, which is usually considered a first team and a second team. The Mariners are always in the mix in Class A South and the Shore Conference, so despite what you see this weekend from a relatively inexperienced team, expect things to eventually click for Toms River North.

Weekend Schedule

Toms River North Team 1

Saturday
vs. Don Bosco, 9:40 a.m.
vs. East Brunswick, 1 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Shawnee, 8 a.m.

Toms River North Team 2

Saturday
vs. Brick, 8 a.m.
vs. Jackson Liberty, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Delran 3, 9:40 a.m.

 

Toms River South

Although they were only a .500 team last season, the Indians also had a roster loaded with juniors and sophomores, which should bode well for them this year. There were many who thought Toms River South was ready to challenge for the division title last season, so one more training camp and a preseason together might be all this group needs before it takes off.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Ramapo, 8 a.m.
vs. Sayreville, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Raritan, 9:40 p.m.
vs. Bergen Catholic, 1 p.m.

 

Wall

Like most teams that reach a sectional title game, Wall will miss its share of senior leadership from the 2013 team. Despite that, the Crimson Knights return a wealth of talent that came on strong at the end of last year. Wall was a team that looked ordinary early and deadly late, so the preseason will be a chance to pick up where they left off and continue to progress.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Dallas PA, 8 a.m.
vs. Delran 1, 11:20 a.m.

Sunday
vs. Jackson Memorial, 9:40 a.m.
vs. Sayreville, 1 p.m.

 

Harrison Summer Soccer Tournament

Freehold Township

Although Freehold Township was it's usual competitive side last year, the Patriots probably left some wins on the table due to injuries at key spots and perhaps because of too much youth on the roster. With a more experienced and, hopefully, more healthy team, Freehold Township will again be one of the tougher teams in what is traditionally the Shore's toughest division.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Union City, Noon
vs. St. Peter’s, 3 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Hackensack, 10 a.m.
vs. Harrison, 1 p.m.

 

Long Branch

Few teams generated the buzz that Long Branch did heading into last year, and yet, the Green Wave never got off the ground. A team that many opposing coaches saw as a potential division favorite finished last in Class B North despite running an even goal differential for most of the year and finishing minus-7. Most of the squad returns this year, so if it was just inexperience that derailed the season, perhaps this weekend is the beginning of a return to prominence for Long Branch.

Weekend Schedule

Friday
vs. Union City, 5 p.m.
vs. Garfield, 8 p.m.

Saturday
vs. Belleville, 4 p.m.
vs. Harrison, 6 p.m.

 

Rumson-Fair Haven

Last year’s Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II runner-up loses almost all of its starting lineup from a year ago, so the Bulldogs will look much different this season. On the plus side, some underclass talent emerged last season on a senior-heavy team and the program is deeper than it has been in a long time. Sunday’s friendly against Harrison should be a decent barometer for second-year coach Will Gould and his players.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday
vs. Garfield, 1 p.m.
vs. Newark Tech, 5 p.m.

Sunday
vs. Memorial-West New York, Noon
vs. Harrison, 3 p.m.