Boys Soccer – Top 10, Sept. 20
The third 2015 installment of the boys soccer top 10 features the first rearranging of the top five this season. There were two games this past week that featured top 10 teams squaring off against one another and all four of the teams involved in those games remain in the top five.
With one of the preseason top five dropping down in the top 10, that means there is a new team in the top five for the first time this year and it is one of the two remaining teams in the Shore Conference with a perfect record. The rest of the top 10 features a team that fell out last week and climbed back in, as well as a new team from the jungle that is Class A North.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (4-1, 4-0) Last Week: 2
Although the Colts are the first place team in Class A North and their only loss was a 1-0 game to Peddie, they are not a lock No. 1 at this point. If not for a red card against Freehold Township on Thursday and a penalty kick with five minutes left in the second overtime against Freehold Boro on Saturday, CBA would likely be a two-win team. Alas, the Colts pulled out both and since both are very good wins, CBA is indeed the No. 1 team this week.
2. Shore (5-0, 3-0) Last Week: 5
CBA’s high-wire act at the end of the week left open the possibility for Shore to storm through the door and take over the top spot in the rankings. The Blue Devils were convincing in beating Ocean 3-1 and if the Spartans go on to have the kind of season they are expected to have, that is going to be a huge win when it comes to SCT seeding and power points. The B Central schedule could possibly make Shore’s hold on the No. 2 spot somewhat tenuous, but the win over Ocean coupled with a 5-0 record has the Blue Devils next in line for the time being.
3. Freehold Township (2-1-1, 2-1-0) Last Week: 1
On one play, Freehold Township went from the undisputed No. 1 team to one that will have to scratch and claw to stay in the top five by the time next week rolls around. Not only did goalkeeper Mike Christina’s red card open the door for CBA to rally from a 2-0 second-half deficit on Thursday, but it also leaves the Patriots without their No. 1 keeper for Monday’s showdown with Manalapan. If Freehold Township can get by the Braves, they should be able to chip away and get back into the discussion for No. 1
4. Ocean (3-1, 2-0) Last Week: 3
The Spartans mauled three inferior teams by a combined score of 21-1 to open the season, but struggled to stop Shore on corner kicks while also failing to execute in the final third in a 3-1 loss to the Blue Devils. Ocean can put a ton of pressure on a defense with its speed and creativity on the attack, but the Spartans found a few things to clean up in that loss to Shore. The meat of the B North schedule gets underway this week with Long Branch and Colts Neck on the slate.
5. Rumson-Fair Haven (6-0, 4-0) Last Week: 7
The goal differential is not as eye-popping as the one that Shore owns, but like the Blue Devils, the Bulldogs just keep winning. Five of Rumson’s six wins are by a one-goal margin, including three straight 2-1 wins over Manasquan, St. John Vianney and Holmdel. The wins over Long Branch and Manasquan are both quality and Holmdel’s win over Toms River South outside the division gives A Central some clout.
6. Wall (3-0-1, 2-0-1) Last Week: 8
The only goal Wall has allowed in four games this year was the own goal Long Branch scored against the Crimson Knights in their 1-1 draw on Friday. Wall has already survived games against Colts Neck and Long Branch and will play the bottom two teams – Neptune and Red Bank Catholic – in the B North standings this week before a non-divisional rivalry game with Manasquan on Saturday.
7. Long Branch (3-1-1, 1-0-1) Last Week: Not ranked
The Green Wave lost to Rumson and survived a couple of close calls against Asbury Park and Neptune, but a the young Long Branch roster showed its chops in a 1-1 tie at Wall Friday and has battled its way to a 3-1-1 record. Long Branch will again be tested right out of the gate this week when it travels to Ocean for a night game on Monday, which has shaped up to be a big game for both teams.
8. Marlboro (1-1-1, 1-1-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Marlboro has only one win, but it was a big one against preseason No. 4 Manalapan this past week. Even the two non-wins are solid showings, with the Mustangs falling to No. 3 Freehold Township in a 1-0 decision and tying a Howell team that also played Manalapan tough and beat a quality Freehold Boro side. The Mustangs play the Middletowns and Red Bank Catholic this week, so the schedule gives them a chance to build on their record.
9. Manalapan (2-1, 2-1) Last Week: 4
Like Freehold Township, Manalapan has had a little trouble finding the back of the net out of the gate, but the Braves are still in decent shape in the early going. CBA has had to survive a couple of close calls and Freehold Township will travel to Manalapan on Monday with their goalkeeper still on the bench because of a red card. If Manalapan can put a big week together against the Patriots, CBA on Friday and Middletown North on Saturday, the Braves will catapult back into the top five.
10. Toms River North (2-1-1, 2-0-1) Last Week: 6
After battling Brick Memorial to a 1-1 draw, Toms River North bounced back nicely with a 2-1 win over rival Toms River East. To this point, Class A South hasn’t had some of the definitive non-divisional victories that it did at this point last year, so we’re still learning about the top teams in the division. To this point, with wins over Lacey and Toms River East and a good showing in a loss to a very talented Kearny team, Toms River North appears to be the A South team with the highest ceiling.
Howell (1-2-1, 1-2-1) Last Week: 9 – A loss to Middletown North and tie vs. Marlboro drops the Rebels for the moment, but they appear to be a factor again in A North.
Point Pleasant Boro (4-1, 3-1) Last Week: 10 – Some team was bound to pick them off at some point and Central picked off the Panthers this week. There is still time to put a run together and push back into the top 10.
On the Bubble
Lacey (4-1, 2-1) – Lacey’s only loss is to Toms River North, so it’s just a matter of the Lions picking up some wins against top-10-caliber competition to get them into the top 10.
Colts Neck (3-1-1, 2-1-0) – The Cougars have a solid win over Brick Memorial and played Wall tough in their B North opener.
Freehold Boro (3-2, 1-2) – Losing to Howell does not disqualify the Colonials from getting in, but they are still working off the stigma of losing 4-0 to the Rebels. Taking CBA to overtime was a good start.
Manasquan (4-2, 2-1) – An opening-day loss to Neptune hurts, but the Scarlet Fliers are not a pushover team and the Warriors have done some really good work since.
Brick Memorial (2-1-1, 2-0-1) – The Mustangs have to fall in behind Colts Neck on the pecking order, but taking Toms River North the distance gets them in the conversation.