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As the season progresses things tend to sort themselves out. In theory, that should make ranking the top teams in the Shore Conference a little easier. But so far that’s been anything but the case.

The top three teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 remain unchanged, but otherwise there is plenty of movement as we enter the fourth week of the season. Three teams dropped out and three new teams enter, as Red Bank Catholic, Ocean and Toms River North all get their shot to try and hold down a spot in the top 10. If the first two weeks have shown us anything, it’s that it won’t be easy.

 

 

 

1. Southern (8-0). Last week: No. 1

The Rams dominated in their three games this week with a 15-2 win over Jackson Liberty, a 17-1 victory over Toms River South and a 17-5 triumph over Jackson Memorial. Senior attackman Dylan Jinks has continued his torrid scoring pacing with 35 goals and 23 assists over Southern’s first eight games. Five different Rams players have scored at least 10 goals. They play at No. 7 Freehold Township on Friday and at Brick Memorial on Monday as they look to stay on track for the top seed in the Shore Conference Tournament.

 

2. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-4). Last week: No. 2

The Bulldogs got on track with an 11-3 win over St. John Vianney and an 11-10 victory over No. 3 CBA after an 0-4 start. Don’t pay too much attention to the Bulldogs’ record, though. They are 2-1 against the Shore Conference with their only loss coming to No. 1 Southern. And after beating CBA on Lucas Seckler’s late goal, they have the inside track to the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament. Rumson takes on Shore on Wednesday, hosts No. 8 Ocean on Saturday and travels south for a very tough nonconference game against St. Augustine Prep.

 

3. Christian Brothers Academy (4-2). Last week: No. 3

The Colts held off Manasquan 8-7 and beat Freehold Township 10-4 before falling to Rumson 11-10. Both of their losses this season have come by one goal. Right now the Colts are firmly the third-best team in the conference, and we’ll find out later this week if they will be on their way to another Class A North division title. Their main remaining challenger in A North is Howell, which they host on Friday. CBA also heads to Hightstown to face the Peddie School on Wednesday and hosts St. John Vianney on Monday.

 

4. Manasquan (5-2). Last week: No. 6

The Warriors beat Red Bank 13-5 and then lost to CBA 8-7 before bounding back with a 10-3 victory over St. Rose. The defeat to CBA is Manasquan’s only conference loss, and the Warriors own wins over Red Bank Catholic, Colts Neck and Freehold Township, which is why they jumped Howell for the No. 4 spot that was previously occupied by St. John Vianney. The Warriors have a great shot at the No. 4 seed for the SCT, and will look to bolster their case with home games against Toms River South and Jackson Liberty on Tuesday and Saturday, and a road tilt at Shore Regional on Monday.

 

5. Howell (6-1). Last week: No. 5

The Rebels snapped a three-game losing streak to Colts Neck with a 7-3 win, then beat East Brunswick 10-7 and Marlboro 13-4 to begin the season 6-0, their best start in program history. They suffered their first loss of the season in a 12-9 defeat at the hands of Allentown. Howell will try to bounce back in a home game against Toms River South on Wednesday before a crucial Class A North game at No. 3 CBA on Friday. They also host No. 10 Toms River North on Monday.

 

6. Red Bank Catholic (4-1). Last week: not ranked

The Caseys erupted for 55 goals in three games to run their winning streak to four and join the top 10 after being unranked over the first two sets of rankings. They defeated Colts Neck 13-6, Long Branch 21-2 and Middletown South 21-4. A big nondivisional game is on tap for Wednesday when the Caseys travel to face No. 7 Freehold Township. They also have a road game with rival Red Bank on Friday.

 

7. Freehold Township (5-3). Last week: No. 7 

The Patriots sandwiched a 6-2 victory over Holmdel and a 7-6 overtime win over Shore around a 10-4 loss to CBA. The Pats led CBA 4-3 in the second quarter before the Colts scored the game’s final seven goals. John Poole sank the game-winning goal in overtime to beat Shore. Freehold Township has three big home games coming up, starting this week with No. 6 Red Bank Catholic on Wednesday and No. 1 Southern on Friday.

 

8. Ocean (4-0). Last week: not ranked

The Spartans make their first appearance in the top 10 after an 11-10 victory over Barnegat and a 9-8 victory over Holmdel. In the win over Barnegat, Erik Rant scored the game-winner with one second left. Ocean will likely move to 5-0 after a home game against Long Branch on Wednesday before facing its biggest test of the season at No. 2 Rumson on Saturday.

 

9. Barnegat (2-1). Last week: No. 9

The Bengals figured to be out of the top 10 after falling to Ocean 11-10 last week, but with several other teams faltering and the loss coming by one goal scored in the final second, the Bengals hold onto the No. 9 spot this week. After being idle for 11 days they will return to action on Saturday against St. Rose.

 

10. Toms River North (3-1). Last week: not ranked

The Mariners move into the top 10 after a pair of one-goal victories over St. John Vianney and Jackson Memorial. All four of their games have been decided by two goals or less, so if you’re a Toms River North supporter be sure to have the oxygen tank ready. A big week is in store with a home game against St. Rose on Monday before road matches with Lacey on Friday and No. 5 Howell on Monday.

 

Dropped out:

St. John Vianney (2-5)

Colts Neck (2-3)

Wall (4-1)

 

 

Teams to watch:

Basically everybody: Middletown North picked up a solid 9-8 win over previous No. 10 Wall as it continues to build its program, and that came after a 9-8 loss to Colts Neck. We have already entered into the territory of “Team A beat Team B but lost to Team C which lost to Team D that beat Team A.'' That means a simple head-to-head victory won’t be enough to warrant ranking one team over another in many scenarios. Each of the three teams that dropped out along with Middletown North, Brick, Lacey and Red Bank could be in position to be ranked by next week.

 

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