Boys Soccer – 20 Shore Teams Compete at Capelli Complex Summer Festival
The first official day of high school soccer practice is still a week away, but the unofficial start to the preseason has always been the summer team tournaments. The word “tournament” is used loosely in this case, as the August get-togethers are prescheduled summer scrimmages.
Over the last several years, the Capelli Complex High School Summer Festival in Tinton Falls has become the preeminent summer venue for high school teams to get in some early run and this year’s festival had a good mix of teams from around the state, including 20 from the Shore Conference.
It is still too early to break down rosters (keep an eye out for the annual Shore Sports Network Boys Soccer Preview at the beginning of September for all that) but the Capelli Festival was a chance to check in on almost half the teams in the Shore Conference and get a quick state of the program on each.
Here is how those 20 teams look coming off their 2021 seasons and heading into the official 2022 preseason.
Teams listed alphabetically
Despite going 4-14-1, Brick showed it could score goals behind a one-two punch of Jayson Nardone and Nick Rincon. Only Nardone returns in 2022, so Brick’s success in 2022 will depend on its improvement in preventing goals, which was a problem a season ago. In 2021, the Green Dragons conceded 78 goals in its 19 matches.
The Mustangs were a senior-laden team that went 6-7-3 in 2021, but there is a collection of key contributors due back in 2022. Billy Caruso is a rising senior who has been a goal-scoring threat since his freshman season, including a team-leading eight goals in 2021. In a Class A South division that won’t have a juggernaut like the one Toms River North was last year, Brick Memorial will be among the contenders to watch in Ocean County.
Christian Brothers Academy
Although some of its top returning players did not participate this weekend at the Capelli Festival, CBA was a marquee name at the event and figures to be among the state’s best again in 2022. As is usually the case, the Colts graduated some top-flight talent following the 2021-22 school year, but return standouts Will Thygeson and Jack D’Eletta, plus an up-and-coming junior core led by Dylan Millevoi, Dimitry Corba and Lawrence Mancino. The Colts once again have loaded up their schedule (Delran, Gill St. Bernard, Chaminade, La Salle), in addition to the usual Class A North division gauntlet.
Last year’s Holmdel team was a young, inexperienced group with very little scoring returning from the previous year that overcame their preseason questions to reach the Central Jersey Group II championship game. That description fits almost perfectly again after the graduation of 18-goal scorer Brendan Worobel and the Hornets are hoping to replace those 18 goals, if not with a second-coming of Worobel then with a combination of players. David Weiner and Max Woodward were integral pieces in last year’s midfield and could very make up for the loss of Worobel. The greater challenge will be replacing All-Shore goalkeeper Tommy Chyzowych, now at Lehigh.
At several points last season, Jackson Liberty appeared on the cusp of breaking through in Class B South but ended up finishing fourth in the standings, albeit with a respectable overall record of 9-5-3 and just 18 goals allowed in 17 matches. The Lions could not participate in the state tournament due to exceeding the limit on red cards during the season, but there is some optimism for this year after boasting a solid group of juniors in 2021 that included Gerard Cerino, Jimmy Capucci, Ryan Pettrow and Connor Yurgel.
Lacey has strength in numbers heading into the new season, with just four starters graduating from a Class B South championship team that went 15-2-1. One of those starters, though, was First-Team All-Shore defender Kody Besser and on top of having to replace his presence, the Lions also lost talented midfielder Jason Marchitello to a torn ACL – his second such injury in the last year. Despite the hardship, the return of Ethan Riley, Logan Gross, Chad Moore, Matteo Pasqualichio, Mateo Mussmani and goalkeeper Ryan Fitzgerald will keep Lacey a contender for the B South title.
After graduating some major pieces from its second sectional runner-up in the last three years, Long Branch is set to field an inexperienced team, albeit in intriguing one. There is a bunch of scoring and midfield to replace, but Jeremey Hernandez should help keep the back line strong and rising junior Chris Lopez picked up nine goals as a sophomore a year ago. The Green Wave are also expecting some help up top via transfer before the season gets underway and a move out of the Class A North division should help ease the transition for the new starters.
Manasquan’s young roster took some lumps in 2021, but along the way, the Warriors managed to win a share of the Class B North division championship along with Wall and Neptune. Although they graduated one of their two top scorers in Mike Cafiero, Matt Karolak is back and surrounded by a core – Aidan Sugrue, Luke Roy, Kevian Kraemer and Griffin Linstra – that should be ready to emerge and keep the Warriors in contention for titles.
Most of Marlboro’s 2021 roster was represented by seniors, so there will be some work to do in catching up a large portion of the roster after losing more than half of a 7-7-2 Class A North team. There is also room for growth, as the Mustangs are set to bring back Cooper Laitman and Logan Simon coming off strong seasons and Miles Richardson coming off a strong finish to his first varsity campaign.
Last year’s 1-11-3 season was made more arduous by the fact that Matawan did not have a home field for a significant part of the season. This year arrives with more hope, as the Huskies boast a senior-loaded roster that includes players returning to high-school ball from academy clubs, as well as transfers. A lot still needs to come together, but Matawan figures to be one of the Shore’s most improved teams after a challenging 2021 campaign.
The 2021 Middletown North boys soccer team had a nice mix of youth and senior leadership and there is plenty of the former returning to make 2022 an exciting year for the Lions. Playing in Class A North, Middletown North took its lumps in going 6-12 – including 1-6 in divisional play – but the Lions started two standout young defenders in C.J. Crolius and Ryan Barnao, plus got noteworthy scoring contributions from rising juniors Travis Soto and Tommy Valinotti.
With an inexperienced roster guided by a first-year head coach, Middletown South struggled to keep its collective head above water against a rugged Class A North schedule. While going 0-6-1 against their division, however, the Eagles were 3-3 against teams outside of Class A North, including 3-1 in their final four non-division games. With a pair of reliable attackers back in Alex Soto and Jake Buisson, Middletown South hopes to turn a solid finish in 2021 into a strong start to 2022.
Aidan Tisony was one of the Shore’s top players in 2021 and carried the Spartans to a 13-win season with his conference-leading 25 goals. This year’s Ocean team will have considerably less firepower without Tisony, but is still set to boast some experienced scoring with Archeley Eugene back up top and Stephen Aliaj returning in the midfield.
A promising start to the 2021 season quickly went south for Raritan, which lost nine straight games to close out the season after starting 3-1. Seven of the 10 losses were by a margin of one goal and the only four teams to shutout Raritan were ranked in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 at one point or another in 2021. The Rockets were again led in scoring last season by Lupo Ryder, who is going into his senior year.
When it comes to boys soccer, expectations and optimism have never been as high as it is heading into 2022. The Bulldogs are coming off winning their first ever NJSIAA sectional championship, which they did via golden goal by returning striker Alec Pentikis. Older brother, Luke, is Rumson’s big loss to graduation, but the talent coming back throughout the formation – which includes creative midfielders Antonio Santos and Ronan Hogg – has Rumson thinking big again heading into the new school year.
St. Rose rolled to a Class B Central division championship in 2021, but still came in behind division rival Ranney in the NJSIAA Tournament seeding for the South Jersey Non-Public B section. That meant when the two teams made it to the NJSIAA sectional semifinals against one another, St. Rose had to go on the road and the result was a crushing, 1-0, loss to the Panthers. Some major talent, scoring and leadership from around the formation graduated, but rising seniors James Vitale and Packy O’Hearn became key contributors in 2021, and rising junior Diego Nieves finished second on the team in goals scored with eight.
With four seniors in its starting lineup, Shore enjoyed a turnaround 2021 season in which the Blue Devils went 11-5-1. They will look to build on that success in 2022, although Shore will be without a pair of key scorers from last year’s team, with Maxx Eichenbaum and Jadyn DeRosa both playing academy soccer this fall. Still, the Blue Devils return a top scorer in Nick DiNapoli and a talented young core remains as Shore eyes a deep postseason run in Group I.
Toms River East
On pure volume, Toms River East lost a lot of numbers from a talented 2021 team that could not get out of the first round in either postseason tournament. Among the returning players, however, are some major contributors, led by 14-goal scorer Kajus Matazinskas. Ryan Kozlej and Ismet Erfnike also emerged in 2022 and Bobby Calvo is back in goal after an impressive freshman debut a season ago. The supporting cast will have to come together during the remainder of the summer, but Toms River East has the makings of a contender for the Class A South title.
Toms River North
Including its 2020 modified sectional championship during a COVID-shortened season, Toms River North won three consecutive sectional championships from 2019 to 2021 and last season’s senior-packed team was the most dominant of the three. With all but one starter graduating, the Mariners are going to take a step back, but that might just mean other teams in Ocean County now have a fighting chance against the Mariners. Returning senior Matt Bozicev was a starter from the jump in 2021, while, Vinny O’Donnell, Ray Keller, Luke Montanile, Kontantinos Papanikolas and Anthony Ruggiero all got a good taste of the action on last year’s 15-2-3 team.
The depth and resilience of Wall’s tradition-rich program will be tested this season after the Crimson Knights graduated the vast majority of their scoring from a 2021 side that ended its season with a shootout loss to Holmdel in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals – two weeks after beating eventual sectional champion Rumson-Fair Haven, 3-0, in the Shore Conference Tournament. Nick Damiano returns as a junior after scoring four goals and will be the focus of Wall’s attack.