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The race in B Central was one of three divisional races at the Shore to go down to the wire in 2019 and it would have been that way even if the teams took two official turns through the division. Many of the teams did play their divisional opponents twice and the number of season splits suggest the teams in the middle of the division are right on the heels of defending division champion Ranney.

With the exception of Shore Regional five years ago and some talented St. Rose teams in prior years, B Central hasn’t offered much in the way of contenders within whole of the Shore Conference. Losing the Shore Conference Tournament in 2020 is not a significant loss for this field, with the possible exception of teams like Keyport and Henry Hudson, who would like to qualify for the tournament for the first time in a long time.

Now that the division race will include two games against each opponent, expect the B Central race to include plenty of twists and turns.

In predicted order of finish

Ranney

Head Coach: Donny Gray, third season
2019 Record: 7-6-2 (5-1, first in Class B Central)
Returning: Tommy Boyan (Jr., Midfield), Jett Pacifico (Jr., Midfield), Charles Anyichie (Jr., Midfield), Charlie McCann (Jr., Midfield), Trent Redman (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Anthony Virone (Goalkeeper), Ethan Marston (Defense), Matt Padovano (Defense), George Sima (Forward), Uzay Takil (Forward), Nick Saxson (Defense)
Top Newcomers: Mitchell Oldham (Fr.), Joey Arege (Jr.)

Ranney junior Thomas Boyan. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

For the first time since joining the Shore Conference ahead of the 2012 season, Ranney captured a Class B Central division title by outlasting a competitive field of teams that all handed each other losses. Ranney’s loss was an early 1-0 decision vs. Point Beach but after taking that defeat, the Panthers won five straight division games to edge out the field for the title. In 2020, the Panthers will have to replace an all-division goalkeeper and center back but bring back just about all of their offensive firepower in an effort to finish atop the field again.

Senior Trent Redman will be an important player for Ranney, not only as one of the few seniors but also as a holdover on the back line and a returning all-division defender at that. The rest of the core is junior-dominated and tilted toward the attack, led by junior and returning leading scorer Tommy Boyan. Fellow juniors Jett Pacifico, Charlie McCann and Charles Anyichie also return as scoring threats, with Anyichie bringing a unique set of skills as a 6-foot-6 shot-blocker on the basketball court who can also keep the ball on his feet on the pitch. There are some holes to fill on defense and in goal, but Ranney should boast one of its more dynamic attacks as the Panthers defend their first division title.

Asbury Park

Head Coach: Felix Flavian, third season (eighth overall)
2019 Record: 7-10 (3-3, tied fourth in Class B Central)
Returning: Woodley Cagilus (Sr., Midfield), Davenson JoinVilmar (Jr., Midfield), Chefeston Simeus (Sr., Forward), Jean Roody Solomon (Sr., Forward), Jaquan Lungsford (Sr., Forward), Asion Murchison (Sr., Defense), Edgar Zuniga-Olivera (Sr., Goalkeeper), Eduardo Vargas (Sr., Goalkeeper), Yael Garcia (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Jesus Ayala (Defense), Peter Altidore (Defense), Rosselet Etienne (Defense)
Top Newcomers: Elijah Simmons (So., Midfield), Luckerson Pierre (So., Midfield), John Wesley Lavarin (So., Midfield), Bryan Carasco (So., Defense), Milton Jordan Gutierrez (So., Defense)

The Blue Bishops are three years removed from winning the second of two straight B Central titles and four removed from capturing the Central Jersey Group I championships. The last two years have been rebuilding efforts at Asbury Park but the performance by the Bishops in 2019 – particularly as the season progressed – is cause for optimism in 2020. The 2019 team had a better season than the 2015 team and the brought back as much, if not more, talent for 2020 than in 2016.

Goal-scoring is an x-factor for so many teams around the state but for Asbury Park, it should be as close to a given as is possible. The top three scorers from last year are back – led by four-year starter Woodley Cagilus and third-year starter Davenson JoinVilmar. The two midfielders will look to feed returning senior and 2019 leading scorer Chefeston Simeus, who was one of the division’s breakout players a year ago. Jean Solomon and Jaquan Lunsford are also back as goal-scoring threats while Asion Murchison and Yael Garcia are back on the defense in front of goalkeeper tandem Edgar Zuniga-Olivera and Eduardo Vargas. Factor in a talented up-and-coming sophomore group and Asbury Park could be in for a resurgence if the Bishops can overcome a host of B Central contenders that also bring back impact talent.

St. Rose

Head Coach: Simon Muckle, first season
2019 Record: 8-8-3 (4-1-1, second in Class B Central)
Returning: Matt Kirkpatrick (Sr., Midfield), Morgan Fahy (Sr., Midfield), Kyle Corrigan (Jr., Midfield), Luke Hammil (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Christian Riozzi-Bodine (Forward), Matt Santos (Forward), Jake Dempsey (Midfield), Matt DeLuca (Defense), Jacob Capone (Defense), Casey Ballou (Goalkeeper)

Coming off a season in which it finished just behind Ranney for the division championship, St. Rose has a similar roster makeup to Ranney in that the Purple Roses being back plenty of midfield talent while looking to patch up the defense and an open goalkeeper spot as well. The one difference between the two B Central non-publics is St. Rose has a top scorer to replace in Christian Riozzi-Bodine, who moved around between forward and center back last year.

Under new coach Simon Muckle, St. Rose will have a deep midfield that should give the Purple Roses a possession edge on the rest of B Central. Matt Kirkpatrick is an all-division returnee after turning in back-to-back strong seasons as a sophomore and junior. Morgan Fahy is also a steady returning senior in the midfield and Kyle Corrigan and Luke Hammil are both coming off productive sophomore seasons as they take on more prominent roles as juniors. Paying back Ranney when the two meet on Nov. 3 and 5 will be a priority for St. Rose, but there are plenty of potential traps in B Central along the way.

Point Pleasant Beach

Head Coach: Mike Baiata, ninth season
2019 Record: 8-7-1 (3-2-1, third in Class B Central)
Returning: Owen Marcoux (Sr., Forward), Dylan Aportela (Sr., Goalkeeper), Josh Boyan (So., Forward), Tom DeCristofano (Sr., Midfield), Justin Mazzatta (Sr., Midfield), Luke Zylinski (Jr., Defense), Tanner Curtis (Jr., Midfield), Isaac Enu (Jr., Forward), Owen Curtis (So., Forward), Colin Hutton (So., Midfield), Jacob Bardsley (Jr., Midfield), Cliff Smith (Jr., Defense/Midfield), Hunter Roselli (Jr., Defense/Midfield), Nate Whelan (Sr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Matt Adao (Defense), Robert D’Agostaro (Midfield), Braden Niebling (Midfield), Jack Foley (Forward)
Top Newcomers: Dan Finlay (Jr.), Michael Malpass (Jr.), Matt Kavanaugh (Sr.), Colin Jacobs (Sr.)

As far as returning talent goes, Point Beach is in as advantageous of a position as any team in the division. Owen Marcoux opened the 2019 season projected to play on the back line but with the emergence of younger defenders like junior center back and all-division pick Luke Zylinski, Marcoux pushed up to striker and led the team in scoring. The Garnet Gulls will open 2020 with Zylinski back in the back and Marcoux leading an experienced group of offensive players.

Senior Tom DeCristofano is the leader in the Point Beach midfield, with senior Justin Mazzatta, junior Tanner Curtis and sophomore Colin Hutton all coming back with some in-game experience on the midfield line. Sophomore Josh Boyan was second on the team with seven goals and put up that number as a freshman and sophomore Owen Curtis will provide another scoring option up top. Juniors Hunter Roselli and Cliff Smith will also be key defenders and behind that established junior back line, all-division goalkeeper Dylan Aportela gives the Gulls B Central’s most decorated goalkeeper. With another year of experience, Point Beach will try to be more consistent in their pursuit of the top spot in the division.

Mater Dei Prep

Head Coach: Will Carl, second season
2019 Record: 5-12-1 (3-3, tied fourth in Class B Central)
Returning: Liam Stewart (Sr., Midfield), Marcone Pessoa (Sr., Defense), Jeremy Ramos (Sr., Midfield), Christian Szotak (Sr., Midfield), C.J. Braun (Sr., Goalkeeper), Johnny Contini (Jr., Midfield), Zach O’Neal (Jr., Forward), Jason Gruber (Jr., Midfield), E.J. Ventura (Jr., Forward), Scott Gomes (Jr., Defense), David Corbisaro (Jr., Midfield), Brendan Golding (Sr.), Daniel Palmer (Sr.), Brandon Gallipoli (So.)
Key Losses: A.J. Bruney (Forward), Patrick Mastro (Defense), Chris Napoli (Defense), Dylan Morales (Forward)
Top Newcomers: Andrew Ventura (Fr.), Chris Benevidas Lanuza (Fr.), Dylan Coleman (Fr.), Isaiah Taylor (Fr.), Kevin Gorczycz (Fr.)

The top four teams in Class B Central have been a good deal ahead of the next three in recent years, but Mater Dei showed signs of closing the gap last season – enough to reasonably expect that the Seraphs might be all caught up by the time it’s finally time to play ball in 2020. In coach Will Carl’s first season, Mater Dei stepped up and beat Point Beach early in the season and took care of its business by beating Keyport and Henry Hudson to secure a .500 division record and a Shore Conference Tournament berth – all while playing a lineup light on seniors.

This year, Mater Dei will try to hang around the race a little longer now that there are more divisional games and to do so, the Seraphs will lean on returning all-division midfielder Liam Stewart, who led all B Central players with 14 goals as a junior in 2019. Junior Zach O’Neal is back at forward to give the Griffins another finisher, while midfielder Jeremy Ramos and central defender Marcone Pessoa are back in key spots as well. C.J. Braun also returns in goal as a senior, giving the Seraphs plenty of experience and proven production around which to build in 2020.

Keyport

Head Coach: Brendan Hilliard, seventh season
2019 Record: 8-10 (2-4, sixth in Class B Central)
Returning: Kevin Hernandez (Sr., Forward), Joe Lanzaro (Sr., Forward), Nabil El Maalem (Sr., Defense), Mustafa Kilic (Sr., Forward), George Mitchell (Jr., Defense/Midfield/Forward), Alex Bernardino (Jr., Goalkeeper), Tim Connallon (Jr., Defense), Matt Shipley (Jr., Defense), Josh Dswonyk (Jr., Forward), Giovanni Smith (Jr., Defense)
Key Losses: Breandain Greene (Midfield/Forward), Adrian Sabatino (Forward/Midfield), Jared Sheridan (Defense/Midfield), Sal Tornetto (Defense), Shane Zimmerman (Defense), Elliot Gerhard (Forward)
Top Newcomers: Luke Budd (Fr.), Edwin Pruette (Fr.), Oliver Klein (Fr.)

Coming off its best season by record in the brief history of the program, Keyport will try to build on that success while also replacing four key players – more wide-ranging production than the Red Raiders have been used to replacing while boasting young rosters year in and year out. Breandain Green, Adrian Sabatino, Jared Sheridan and Sal Tornetto each contributed multiple goals and assists last year while combining for 19 goals and 14 assists for a team that scored 32 times in 2019.

To overcome those graduation losses, the Red Raiders will turn to a group led by Kevin Hernandez, Joe Lanzaro and George Mitchell – a trio that combined for 13 goals and eight assists. Hernadez and Lanzaro will play on the attack while Mitchell can plug in at multiple positions, including in the back with senior returnee Nabil El Maalem and fellow juniors Tim Connallon, Matt Shipley and Giovanni Smith. Alex Bernardino is also back in goal, so while Keyport has more spots to fill than it is used it, some key players remain to ease the transition.

Henry Hudson

Head Coach: Matt Mancini, fifth season
2019 Record: 2-13 (0-6, seventh in Class B Central)
Returning: James Crowley (Sr., Midfield), Alex Eugenio (Jr., Defense), Deontae Florek (Sr., Forward), Ricardo Santuiste (Sr., Forward), Nick Buzzanco (Jr., Midfield), Gavin Sapio (Jr., Midfield), Nick Bigotto (So., Goalkeeper), Evan Buzzanco (So., Midfield), Emiliano Cervantes (So., Defense), Jesse Jacobs (So., Defense)
Key Losses: Theo Qirko (Forward), Aidan Casey (Midfield), Tom Doherty (Defense), Blaise Cauvin (Midfield), Casey Haupt (Defense), Josh Winters (Goalkeeper)
Top Newcomers: Elvis Gonzalez (Jr., Midfield), Dylan Gonzalez (Jr., Defense), Hayden Kurdes (Fr., Midfield), Hamilton Furment (Fr., Defense), Luke Gordon (Fr., Forward)

The graduates from last year’s Henry Hudson team handled a large portion of the on-field responsibilities, particularly with Josh Winters facing as many shots as any team in the Shore Conference. Despite losing that group, the Admirals bring back some capable contributors and will pump in some newcomers that are capable of making an impact.

James Crowley will run the midfield as a returning starter, Alex Eugenio will lead the defense and Deontae Florek and Ricardo Santuiste will be targets up top. Gavin Sapio and Nick and Evan Buzzanco are back as midfielders, with sophomores Emiliano Cervantes and Jess Jacobs helping out on the back line in front of new starter in goal Nick Bigotto. Elvis Gonzalez should make an impact as an attacking center midfielder and if he and the freshmen class can pick up some of the slack left behind by the Class of 2020, Henry Hudson should pick up some wins within its division-heavy schedule.

 

B Central Starting XI

Owen Marcoux, Sr., Forward, Point Beach (9 G)

Chefeston Simeus, Sr., Forward, Asbury Park (9G, 6 A)

Matt Kirkpatrick, Sr., Midfield, St. Rose

Davenson JoinVilmar, Jr., Midfield, Asbury Park (6 G, 6 A)

Tommy Boyan, Jr., Midfield, Ranney (7 G, 1 A)

Charles Anyichie, Jr., Midfield, Ranney (5 G, 2 A)

Woodley Cagilus, Sr., Midfield, Asbury Park (7 G, 5 A)

Liam Stewart, Sr., Mater Dei Prep (14 G, 2 A)

Morgan Fahy, Sr., Midfield, St. Rose

Luke Zylinski, Jr., Defense, Point Beach

Dylan Aportela, Sr., Goalkeeper, Point Beach

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Jett Pacifico, Jr., Midfield, Ranney

Kyle Corrigan, Jr., Midfield, St. Rose

Josh Boyan, So., Forward Point Beach

Joe Lanzaro, Sr., Forward, Keyport

Zach O’Neal, Jr., Forward, Mater Dei Prep