Boys Soccer – 2022 Shore Conference Tournament Final Preview: CBA vs. Howell
Shore Conference Tournament Championship
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022
At Memorial Field, Summerfield Elementary School, Neptune, 7 p.m.
No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy (14-1) vs. No. 2 Howell (11-2-2)
Teams at a Glance
Head Coach: Tom Mulligan
SCT Championships: 11 (2021, 2016, 2015, 2011, 2010, 2004, 1998, 1993, 1988, 1985, 1984)
SCT Runner-Up: 2 (2018, 2009)
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 16 Southern, 3-2 in overtime; No. 8 Colts Neck, 2-0; No. 13 Middletown North, 2-1.
Head Coach: Rich Yuro
SCT Championships: 1 (2007)
SCT Runner-Up: None
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 15 Manasquan, 0-0 (4-2 penalties); No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven, 0-0 (5-3 on penalties); No. 3 Holmdel, 3-1.
For the 14th time in the 38-year history of the Shore Conference Tournament in boys soccer, CBA will be on one side of the field competing for a championship. The Colts are owners of 10 outright SCT championships and one co-championship and will be out to claim championship No. 12 against a familiar foe.
Saturday will mark the third time CBA has played a division rival in the Shore Conference Tournament final and this will be the first time it is a team other than Marlboro. During the regular season, the Colts took on Howell when the Rebels were still unbeaten at 5-0 and handed them their first loss of the season, 2-1. Both teams were missing an important player in the lineup, with CBA short junior defender Lawrence Mancino and Howell missing senior center midfielder J.P. Candela.
CBA has also been playing the late rounds of the SCT without 2021 All-Shore forward Will Thygeson, who is dealing with a hamstring injury. His status for Saturday’s final is still undetermined after he missed the last two rounds. The Colts got by without him each time, first beating Colts Neck, 2-0, then surviving Middletown North, 2-1, on Thursday night thanks to a brilliant strike by fellow senior Jack D’Eletto in the 79th minute.
With Thygeson out, CBA has altered its formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, with D’Eletto and junior Dylan Millevoi at the forward positions and Dimitry Corba, Cameron D’Alterio, Charlie Paparella and Logan Szuwalski across the midfield. Mancino is also bad for CBA this time around and fellow juniors Christian DeOliveira and Max Koczan make up three quarters of the back line, with senior Joe Lucignano rounding it out. In goal, junior Miles Gallagher has taken over for classmate Joe Grossman, who is out for the season with a knee injury after getting time as a sophomore.
On Howell’s side, the Rebels found their attack against Holmdel on Thursday after going scoreless for the first 240 minutes of the tournament. The defense and senior goalkeeper Charlie Scanlon carried Howell through its first two games of the tournament – both scoreless penalty-kick victories over Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven. Senior R.J. Eckelman has been the heartbeat of the defense and the team as a whole, with Brent Romano, Anthony Sosa and sophomore Tye Maser playing roles on the back line as well. Howell’s defense has taken shape over the course of the season despite missing senior Gavin Soutar for much of it due to injury.
Candela has been the difference-maker for Howell all season and his absence vs. CBA in the regular-season matchup was noteworthy. The senior opted not to play high-school soccer prior to this season in favor of playing on the academy side and his presence this season has helped Howell quickly rebound from losing two key cogs in the midfield to graduation.
Howell has run three-forward formation for most of the season with Nick Spisak and Bryce Ocholla flanking sophomore Nick Turturro, but the Rebels found success with Ocholla in the midfield on Thursday and could show a similar look to combat CBA’s possession game. Spisak and Turturro have been steady scorers all year, with both playing their part in the breakout performance against Holmdel.
CBA is coming off a sloppy performance by its standards against an inspired Middletown North team that was successful in disrupting the Colts’ attack and only lost due to two perfect, upper-90 strikes by Millevoi and D’Eletto. On the flip side, Howell is coming off its best half of soccer in the tournament and will be a confident team knowing that CBA only beat the Rebels, 2-1, in the first meeting and now they will have Candela running the game in the midfield.
The familiarity is going to help Howell give the Colts a run for their money, but finishing the job will be a challenge. It has been 15 years since the Rebels were in the SCT final and back then, they knocked off defending champion Manalapan, 1-0, in the championship game to capture the program’s first and only Shore Conference Tournament title. This year’s game could have similar vibes and should also come down to one goal. Thygeson’s status will be a major x-factor and while CBA can win without him, his absence would create a golden opportunity for Howell. This is a true toss-up, but if Thygeson can go, the advantage goes to CBA. The Pick: CBA, 2-1.
Semifinal Picks Record: 2-0
2022 SCT Picks Record: 21-7