Boys Soccer – Top 10, Oct. 5
The Shore Conference Tournament will be seeded in exactly two weeks and the last three weeks have seen consistency in the top seven teams in the top 10. The order has changed over the course of the season and it has changed again this week thanks to a big win by Wall over Ocean. At this rate, it will be difficult for any new team to break into that top seven but that No. 8 spot is still valuable and a lot can happen in two weeks.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (8-2, 7-1) Last Week: 1
The Colts’ No. 1 spot will be put to the test this week when they travel to play No. 3 Freehold Township on Tuesday. A win would deal Freehold Township a serious blow in the Class A North title chase and would make it very tough to pass CBA for a division crown, even though the Colts would still have some work to put in to win an outright division title.
2. Shore (9-0, 7-0) Last Week: 2
The Blue Devils have looked unbeatable within the B Central division, but Point Beach has a habit of giving Shore some uneasy moments and the rematch at Point Beach was washed out on Thursday. Shore will face a good test Friday against Ranney at home, where Holmdel transfer Brendan Wall is expected to debut for the Panthers.
3. Freehold Township (5-1-2, 5-1-1) Last Week: 3
The Patriots have made it tough for opponents to score but almost as tough for themselves. They have played two scoreless draws this season and have not scored more than two goals in any game this season. Strangely enough, one of the three games in which Freehold Township has scored two goals was its only loss. The Patriots lineup is starting to round back into form just in time for a rematch against CBA Tuesday at Freehold Township.
4. Rumson-Fair Haven (10-0, 8-0) Last Week: 5
The Bulldogs move up a spot in the rankings with two more wins this week combined with a loss by Ocean. A rainout this past week will force Marlboro off of the schedule, so Rumson is running out of non-division opponents to strengthen the résumé. Despite that, the Bulldogs are still unbeaten, already have a solid win over Long Branch, and will get a crack at Shore Regional right before the cutoff.
5. Manalapan (6-2, 6-2) Last Week: 6
Winners of four straight, Manalapan appears poised to make a push for the Class A North title and will look at any CBA-Freehold Township result as a win-win scenario, so long as the Brave can handle their own business. If Freehold Township beats CBA, then the Braves will control their own destiny for the overall title, while a CBA win over Freehold Township would mean Manalapan moves ahead of Freehold Township in the public division title standings and could still guarantee no worse than a share of the overall division title by winning out.
6. Wall (8-0-1, 6-0-1) Last Week: 7
No team picked up a bigger win in the weather-shortened week than Wall, which scored early and held on to beat Ocean. The win gives Wall an early lead in the Class B North race, but the tie against Long Branch looms large because it means Ocean still can win B North by beating Wall and it gives Rumson an edge in common opponent over Wall when it comes to SCT seeding. For Wall to emerge from this week against Ocean and Colts Neck with one goal allowed this season is quite the statement.
7. Ocean (7-2, 6-1) Last Week: 4
The Spartans have swallowed two frustrating results against Shore and Wall in which they won the battle in shots and, in the case of the Wall loss, dominated the possession. Ocean is still a dangerous team and if the Spartans can find their scoring touch against the better competition on the schedule, they will still be an SCT and Central Jersey III favorite, especially with the return of goalkeeper Yanni Kavarakas coming soon.
8. Colts Neck (5-3-1, 3-3-0) Last Week: 10
The Cougars inched into the top 10 last week and solidified their spot in the rankings by beating A South leader Lacey at home. They later lost to Wall, but played the Crimson Knights tough again in a 1-0 loss, the second to Wall by that margin this season. They have not yet been able to get over the hump against Wall or Ocean, but the Cougars have proven they can play with teams of that caliber.
9. Marlboro (4-3-1, 3-3-1) Last Week: Not ranked
The carousel of Class A North teams to take a back-end spot in the top 10 continues with the Mustangs moving back into the field this week. Marlboro got back over .500 this week by beating Freehold Boro, which had climbed into the top 10 last week. Couple that impressive performance with a win over Manalapan and a tight game with Freehold Township, and the Mustangs look like a formidable side now that October is here.
10. Lacey (8-2, 6-1) Last Week: 9
Lacey lost a close game at Colts Neck Monday that ended a six-game winning streak, but got right back on the horse when the Lions beat Jackson Memorial the next day. Class A South is going to be short on non-division wins when it comes time to seed the SCT, but whichever team wins the division should be able to carve out a case for the top 10.
Freehold Boro (4-5-1, 2-5-1) Last Week: 8 – The Colonials have lost three straight and all of a sudden find themselves under .500, which may require them to rally for an SCT berth like they did last year.
On the Bubble
Toms River South (7-2, 7-1) – Now tied atop Class A South with Lacey, Toms River South remains a threat to grab a top-eight spot within the next two weeks.
Point Boro (9-1, 7-1) – With a winning streak that has climbed to seven, the Panthers look a lot like last year’s version of Point Boro that went into the postseason as the Shore’s hottest team.
Long Branch (5-3-1, 3-1-1) – The draw at Wall is worth remembering at this point, even though the rest of the Green Wave résumé is a mixed bag.
Jackson Memorial (6-3-1, 5-2-1) – A red card was the Jaguars’ undoing in a critical A South match against Lacey on Tuesday, but the team bounced back to beat Toms River East and remain mathematically alive in the division race.
Central (6-1-2, 6-1-1) Last Week: Not ranked – The Golden Eagles are the only team to beat Point Boro this year and they also helped their top 10 case by beating Pinelands this past week to avenge an early-season loss to the Wildcats.