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Like Class A North and A Central, Class B North gets a new look this season with Manasquan and Freehold Boro joining the race and Middletown North and Ocean heading to new homes. Despite the shakeup, the story remains the same this season: Wall is the defending champion and will get a fervent challenge from a Colts Neck side that came on strong late in 2019.

Manasquan and Freehold Boro will make for competitive additions to the field, Neptune and Matawan should remain competitive despite losing talented senior classes, and Red Bank and St. John Vianney have some key pieces back with hopes of making a climb up the standings in 2020.

In predicted order of finish

Colts Neck

Head Coach: Art Collier, 23rd season
2019 Record: 11-4-2 (5-5-1, second in Class B North)
Returning: Steve Ciccarone (Sr., Defense), Jake Gershon (Sr., Midfield), David Tuschmann (Jr., Forward), Adam Haaf (Sr., Midfield), Derek Haaf (Sr., Forward), Kyle Koenig (Sr., Defense), Jacob Carreira (Sr., Defense), Tom Samaras (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Eli Ferro (Midfield), Dylan Jacobs (Goalkeeper), John Farfan (Forward), Scott DePope (Defense)
Top Newcomers: Ryan Lee (Sr., Midfield), Ryan Tweedale (Sr., Defense), Matt Gaynor (Sr., Midfield), Michael Bartelli (Sr., Forward), Aidan Rowohit (Sr., Goalkeeper)

The Cougars made deep postseason tournament runs in both 2018 and 2019 with very different rosters, so the return of so many contributors from last year’s Shore Conference Tournament semifinalist would seem to bode well for their prospects in 2020. Replacing all-division midfielder Eli Ferro and steady goalkeeper Dylan Jacobs will be early-season priorities, but Colts Neck had some depth with which to work in 2019 and they should be able to tap into those reserves this season.

The Cougars return a standout at each level, with third-year starting center back Steve Ciccarone, senior midfielder Jake Gershon and junior striker David Tuschmann all back off strong 2019 campaigns. Kyle Koenig and Jacob Carreira will keep the defense strong, while Tom Samaras, Adam Haaf and Derek Haaf add to the options on the attack. Ryan Lee – whose older sister, Kayla, was a key starter on Colts Neck’s undefeated, nationally-ranked 2015 girls team – joins an already strong midfield and give the Cougars some additional upside. Colts Neck came very close to knocking off the eventual Group III champion (Ocean) in 2018 and SCT champion (Freehold Township) in 2019 and 2020 has a chance to be the Cougars’ time to finish at the head of the pack.

Wall senior Philip Lyons and Colts Neck senior Jake Gershon challenge for the ball. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Wall

Head Coach: Garry Linstra, 19th season
2019 Record: 17-4-2 (6-1, first in Class B North)
Returning: Jake Pepe (Sr., Forward), Nico DellaPietro (Sr., Forward), Philip Lyons (Sr., Midfield), Terence Byrnes (Jr., Forward), Sean Southwell (Sr., Midfield), Emmett Aravich (Jr., Midfield), Kyle Horowitz (Jr., Forward), Dan Hyde (Jr., Defense), Christian Conenza (Jr., Goalkeeper/Defense)
Key Losses: Tagg Acrum (Defense), Jack Gotsch (Midfield), John Knight (Defense), Matt Penkethman (Defense), Thomas Perry (Forward), Bladmir Vasquez (Defense), Mike Beer (Forward), Aidan McGregor (Defense), Sebastian Campanile (Sr., Goalkeeper) – injured (hip)
Top Newcomers: Sam Grabicki (Jr., Defense), Matt Murphy (Jr., Defense), Gavin Garrison (Sr., Defense), Matt Armenti (So., Defense), Joe Gisoldi (Jr., Goalkeeper), Ryan Molloy (Jr., Forward), Owen McCarthy (Jr., Forward), James Damiano (So., Forward), Kyle Gerber (Jr., Forward), Tristan Lippincott (Jr., Goalkeeper), T.C. Taylor (Jr., Midfield), Seth Reinhardt (Jr., Defense), Chris Miller (So., Defense), Patrick Southwell (So., Forward), Cooper Harmon (Fr., Midfield)

Airtight defense is not an unusual feature of a Wall boys soccer team and last year’s defense was no exception. In fact, it was exceptional. The all-senior back line allowed a Shore-Conference best 0.56 goals per game and did not concede a single goal during the Crimson Knights’ six-game run in the NJSIAA Tournament – which ended with a shootout loss to Millburn after a scoreless draw. Now Wall will try to maximize its 2020 opportunity with a completely new defense, as well as a new goalkeeper with senior Sebastian Campanile recovering from a hip injury, according to coach Garry Linstra.

While the defense is unproven, Wall’s attack has a chance to be one of the more dangerous units at the Shore. Senior Jake Pepe returns as an All-Shore striker and junior Terence Byrne, who scored seven goals to go with Pepe’s seven. Nico DellaPietro and Phillip Lyons were key cogs in the 2019 midfield and Sean Southwell returns with considerable experienced as well. Emmett Aravich and Kyle Horowitz and candidates to step up their scoring while Brendan Newbury and Danny Hyde are among those in the running to anchor the defense. Linstra typically has his back four playing well by the second half of the season regardless of the circumstances and with so much scoring experience back, the Crimson Knights remain promising in 2020.

Manasquan

Head Coach: Tom McGill, seventh season
2019 Record: 11-6-4 (4-2, tied second in Class A Central)
Returning: Simon Cardenas (Sr., Forward), Mike Cafiero (Jr., Midfield), Aiden Sugrue (So., Midfield), Liam Diamond (Sr., Defense), Emmi Shim (Sr., Defense), Jose Avila (Jr., Midfield), Gavin Guagenty (Jr., Defense), Matt Karolak (So., Midfield), Evan Pitzer (Jr., Forward), Raul Olmedo (Jr., Defense), Joe Kennedy (Jr., Defense), Sam Perlberg (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Drew Greenblatt (Midfield), Joe Weinstein (Goalkeeper), Tyler Guagenty (Defense), Frank Manno (Forward), Chris Pierro (Defense), Brady Barry (Defense), Rich Maloney (Defense), Caeden Miller (Midfield), Louis Cajas (Midfield), Tommy Johnson (Sr., Forward)
Top Newcomers: Sean Wayne (Sr., Forward), James O’Neill (Sr., Goalkeeper), Aksel Guerro (Jr., Midfield), Daniel Speicher (Jr., Defense), Alex Strapp (Jr., Midfield), Ezzi Shim (Jr., Goalkeeper), Tyler Collinson (So., Goalkeeper), Rory Mather (So., Goalkeeper)

Manasquan senior Simon Cardenas. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Coming off its best two-year stretch in program history, Manasquan’s chances to reach new heights in 2020 took a big hit when senior Tommy Johnson informed coach Tom McGill that he would not be playing high-school soccer in 2020. The Villanova commit is four goals shy of becoming Manasquan’s all-time leading scorer and played a vital role in leading the Warriors to the South Jersey Group II final in 2018 and the Shore Conference Tournament final last season. Add his departure to the graduations of fellow All-Shore performers Drew Greenblatt, Tyler Guagenty and goalkeeper Joe Weinstein and Manasquan has a lot of needs to address before opening day.

With Johnson gone, Simon Cardenas becomes Manasquan’s offensive target up top after he opted to leave the academy ranks to play his junior season with the Warriors last year. Cardenas came on strong at the end of 2019 and will work with returning starters Mike Cafiero and Aiden Sugure on the attack. Liam Diamond and Emmi Shim also return with experience on the defense so Manasquan has a dose of experience at each level of the formation, with the exception of goalkeeper – where there is a crowded battle for the starting job. Add in a deep class of up-and-coming juniors and Manasquan will still have quality pieces in place to manufacture another competitive season.

Freehold Boro

Head Coach: Mike Parshelunis, third season
2019 Record: 9-9-1 (2-5, seventh in Class A North)
Returning: Mike Romero-Vargas (Sr., Forward), Chris Casale (Sr., Defense), Tharnthong Phua (Jr., Midfield), Owen Gelber (Jr., Goalkeeper), Jonathan Lopez (Jr., Midfield), Dylan Manabat (Sr., Defense), Jack Scharnagl (Sr., Defense/Midfield), Jonathan Min (Jr., Forward), Brayan Acre (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Jose Mejia Mataias (Sr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Isaac Ball (Forward), Phil Franco (Defense), Noah Brower (Defense), Zack Wozniak (Midfield), Chris Cruz-Martinez (Forward), James Crivelli (Goalkeeper), Rob Tweeddale (Defense/Midfield), Jose Luis Vasquez-Oliveira (Midfield/Forward)
Top Newcomers: Matt Castles (Sr., Defense), Colin Wozniak (So., Midfield), Kiernan McLean (So., Defense), Thomas Hughes (So., Midfield/Forward), Alberto Pantoja (Jr., Goalkeeper), Silverio Ortiz (Jr., Midfield)

There is nothing quite like battling in the unforgiving Class A North and there is no doubt that Freehold Boro should find life in B North more forgiving now that the Colonials have shifted divisions. With that being said, Wall, Colts Neck and Manasquan have proven they can go toe-to-toe with the best the Shore has to offer and getting past that trio of contenders will be a tall order for Freehold Boro in their first season back in B North.

Compounding the challenge will be the graduating of Isaac Ball, Phil Franco, Noah Brower and Zack Wozniak – all prominent members of last year’s lineup. Mike Romero-Vargas will help pick up the slack after turning in a breakout junior season in which he notched 10 goals and 10 assists to lead the team in total scoring. Chris Casale, meanwhile, will lead the defense after starting back there as a junior and Dylan Manablat brings some experience to the back as well. Returning keeper Owen Gelber started 10 of 19 games in goal, while Thanthong Phua, Jonathan Lopez and Jack Scharnagl all made starts as well. With some production and experience on hand at the top and back of the formation, as well as a battle-test pedigree, Freehold Boro has the makings of a tough out in B North.

Neptune

Head Coach: John Knight, 15th season
2019 Record: 12-7-1 (3-4, tied fifth in Class B North)
Returning: Marvin Muñoz Garcia (Sr., Midfield), Steven Camacho (Sr., Forward), Giovanni Morales (Sr., Defense), David Radwonski (Sr., Defense), Ethan Latshaw (Sr., Midfield), Cosme Fierro (Sr., Defense)
Key Losses: Jett Tinik (Defense), Kyle Schembri (Forward), Ryan Gannon (Midfield), Louis Pennington (Midfield), Gavin Latshaw (Defense), Batur Yaman (Defense), Evan Jimenez (Defense), Dayle Church (Goalkeeper)
Top Newcomers: Anthony Muñoz Garcia (Fr.), Yahir Torralba (Sr.), Jack Natalino (So.)

Neptune is in the midst of a three-year stretch in which the Scarlet Fliers have proven they can play with the Shore’s top teams and absorb big losses in production to graduation. They were a .500 team in their final season in the Class A North division, then went a combined 26-13-2 over the past two seasons. While this season will represent a difficult task when it comes to replacing three top scorers and an all-division defender, Neptune has shown it can make the most of what is left.

So, what is left? A pair of capable scorers in Marvin Muñoz Garcia and Steven Camacho and a number of defensive-minded, experienced players in Ethan Latshaw, Cosme Fierro, Giovanni Morales and David Radowski. Both Muñoz Garcia and Camacho served as dangerous supporting players and each scored three goals, with Muñoz Garcia also serving up eight assists. With a solid group of defenders and the duo on the attack, Neptune should have a chance at a third straight winning season.

Matawan

Head Coach: Tyler Isaacson, sixth season
2019 Record: 9-7-1 (5-2, third in Class B North)
Returning: Justin Skeete (Sr., Forward), Dylan Frye (Sr., Midfield), Lucas DeGrigorio (Sr., Defense), Tyler Coco (Jr., Defense), Chris Mularadelis (Jr., Midfield)
Key Losses: Marcelo Colonna (Midfield), Chris Dietrich (Defense), Luke Ziebbell (Defense), Marco Medel (Midfield), Gavin Klamm (Midfield), Ryan Leonard (Forward), Justin Sumner (Defense), Mike Mallozzi (Goalkeeper), Anthony Peters (Midfield)
Top Newcomers:

Following back-to-back trips to the sectional semifinal round of the NJSIAA Tournament, Matawan hoped to build on those runs with a senior-heavy roster. The Huskies had their moments in finishing with a winning record and taking the third spot in a competitive Class B North division, but the season ended in the first round of the Central Group II Playoffs. Now, Matawan will attempt to reload with three entrenched starters and a roster that does not feature much experience.

Justin Skeete, Dylan Frye and Lucas DiGrigorio are the three returnees Matawan will lean on and Skeete will be the focus of the attack after scoring five goals as a sophomore – tied for the second-highest mark on the team. Frye and DiGrigorio give Matawan a player in the midfield and one in the back to work around and a wave of juniors and sophomore will serve as the x-factor in how Matawan will fare in the 14-game 2020 season.

Red Bank

Head Coach: Vincent Gruosso, fourth season
2019 Record: 7-10-1 (0-6-1, eighth in Class B North)
Returning: Matteo Balderas (Sr., Forward), Ryan Karr (Sr., Defense), Jacob Kirkpatrick (Jr., Defense), Phil Stolfa (Jr., Midfield), Matt Villani (Sr., Defense), John Venino (Sr., Defense), Nick Gorhau (Sr., Midfield), Adam Tlatelpa (Sr., Forward), Luis Santamaria (Sr., Defense), Tom Feldkamp (Jr., Defense), Joe Koetzner (So., Forward), Enoch Hutchinson (Sr., Forward), Johan Zavala (Jr., Forward), James Castell (So., Midfield), Berend McLaughlin (Jr., Forward)
Key Losses: Tor Haugenes (Sr., Midfield), Aden Castell (Sr., Midfield), Sebastian Carroll (Sr., Goalkeeper), Erik Christie (Sr., Forward), Emilio Hernandez (Sr., Forward), Cesar Ximil (Sr., Midfield)
Top Newcomers: Braeden Carroll (Jr., Goalkeeper), Michael Espinoza (Sr., Defense), Tom Keegan (Jr., Defense)

To illustrate the difficulty of Class B North, Red Bank could not pull out a win within the division in 2019 but won seven games outside of it and picked up some eye-opening results along the way. The Bucs opened their season with a win over Central Jersey Group IV runner-up Long Branch, handled Lacey in an intercounty match and played Shore Conference Tournament semifinalist Colts Neck to a 1-1 draw for their lone divisional draw.

Even with some key players from last year out of the picture, the high points from 2019 warrant optimism for the Bucs’ upcoming season, assuming they can wait out a shutdown due to a positive COVID-19 test in the school. Matteo Balderas ascended to the forefront of Red Bank’s attack with six goals and five assists last season and returns as a scoring leader. Ryan Karr and John Venino are co-captains along with Balderas and will guide the back line in front of new goalkeeper Braeden Carroll. Jacob Kirkpatrick and Matt Villani are two more defenders with experience, giving the Bucs a solid defense around which to build the formation. With some complementary scoring around Balderas, Red Bank would have the makings of a sleeper team at the Shore.

St. John Vianney

Head Coach: Ryan Tetro, second season
2019 Record: 3-12-1 (1-6, seventh in Class B North)
Returning: Danny Vitale (Sr., Midfield), Johnny Troiano (Jr., Forward), Sean Molloy (Sr., Defense), Sam Munning (Jr., Defense), Mike Ceurvels (Jr., Defense/Midfield), John Moreira (Jr., Goalkeeper), David Cardenas (Jr., Midfield), Matt Skolnick (Jr., Midfield/Defense), Farid Estafan (Sr., Midfield), Joe Hopkins (Sr., Midfield), Connor O’Grady (Sr., Defense), Harry Wedwaldt (Sr., Defense), Jack Allen (Jr., Midfield), Matt Brana (So., Midfield), Danny Herndon (So., Forward)
Key Losses: Armand Valentino (Forward), Mike Hands (Defense), Dylan Oswick (Midfield)
Top Newcomers: Luke Molloy (So., Midfield) – transfer from CBA; Keoni Jensen (Fr., Midfield), Luca Esposito (So., Midfield)

Last year was undeniably a rebuilding year for the Lancers and while the outlook for St. John Vianney in 2020 calls for improvement, it will have to come in a B North division that has a lot of teams looking for a similar outcome and starting from a better position than the Lancers are. St. John Vianney also graduated all-division forward Armand Valentino so replacing a top scorer will be high on the to-do list for a team hoping to make a big jump forward this year.

Even without Valentino, the Lancers have a proven finisher and creator in junior Johnny Troiano, who has been scoring since his freshman season. Seniors Danny Vitale and Sean Molloy will be two seniors with major roles on this year’s team and the rest of the lineup will be junior-heavy. With Troiano, Sam Munning, Mike Ceurvels, David Cardenas, Matt Skolnick and goalkeeper John Moreira in the fold for two more seasons, St. John Vianney could lay the groundwork this year and – like all of us – really look forward to 2021.

 

B North Starting XI

Jake Pepe, Sr., Forward, Wall (11 G, 7 A)

David Tuschmann, Sr., Forward, Colts Neck (10 G, 4 A)

Mike Romero-Vargas, Sr., Forward, Freehold Boro (10 G, 10 A)

Simon Cardenas, Sr., Forward, Manasquan (3 G, 6 A)

Terence Byrnes, Jr., Forward, Wall (7 G, 1 A)

Nico DellaPietro, Sr., Forward, Wall (4 G, 3 A)

Jake Gershon, Sr., Midfield, Colts Neck (7 G, 4 A)

Marvin Muñoz Garcia, Sr., Midfield, Neptune (3 G, 8 A)

Philip Lyons, Sr., Midfield, Wall (2 G, 4 A)

Steve Ciccarone, Sr., Defense, Colts Neck

Sebastian Campanile, Sr., Goalkeeper, Wall (17 shutouts)

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Ryan Lee, Sr., Midfield, Colts Neck

Matteo Balderas, Sr., Forward, Red Bank (6 G, 5 A)

Steven Camacho, Sr., Midfield/Forward, Neptune (3 G, 5 A)

Aiden Sugrue, So., Midfield, Manasquan

Justin Skeete, Sr., Forward, Matawan (5 G, 1 A)