Boys Soccer – 2022 Shore Conference Tournament First Round Preview, Predictions
Shore Conference Tournament
Tuesday, Oct. 11
(25) Central at (8) Colts Neck, 2 p.m.
Both of these teams have put up big goals-scored numbers, with each leading their respective divisions – Colts Neck in Class B North and Central in Class A South – in goals-per-game. Colts Neck has the advantage in that the Cougars are at home and have been more consistently dangerous regardless of opponent. Central has converted four goals in five games vs. teams that are in the Shore Conference Tournament while Colts Neck has 21 goals in eight matches. This has a chance to be competitive, but advantage, Colts Neck. The Pick: Colts Neck, 3-1.
Correction: Colts Neck will be playing Central on the turf at Five Points Park, not on its grass field on campus.
(29) Raritan at (4) Freehold Twp., 2 p.m.
Like Colts Neck, Freehold Township will have a built-in advantage thanks to its home field, on which opponents often have a hard time due to the unpredictability of the surface. The Patriots have also just been the better team, although there have been some games in which they have had some trouble finishing the winning goal. Raritan has a dangerous striker in Lupo Ryder who can put a scare into the opposing defense, but the Patriots should be able to get what they need on their home pitch. The Pick: Freehold Twp., 3-0.
(17) Jackson Liberty at (16) Southern, 3 p.m.
When the SCT was seeded on Thursday, Southern was on a six-game winning streak. That is now over after the Rams got beat, 3-1, by Toms River East and they will try to get a new streak started against a Jackson Liberty team having a breakthrough season. The Lions have played competitive games vs. Point Boro, Colts Neck and Neptune and hammered a Toms River South team that beat Southern. With a good core of seniors and plenty of experience against good opponents, Jackson Liberty is ready to advance. The Pick: Jackson Liberty, 2-1.
(18) Manalapan at (15) Manasquan, 3 p.m.
Manasquan got off to an uneven start while its top player, senior Matt Karolak, was hobbled and its punishment is the No. 15 seed and getting paired against, potentially two Class A North teams in the first two rounds. Manalapan is a dangerous road team in the SCT thanks to a quality defense and the sharpness that playing close games vs. CBA, Freehold Township and Marlboro creates. Ultimately, though, Manasquan is peaking at the right time and has a variety of dangerous players on the attack that should make the Warriors a tough out. The Pick: Manasquan, 2-1.
(22) Toms River South at (11) Neptune, 3:45 p.m.
A brief lull in the season – including losses to Toms River North, Jackson Liberty and Holmdel – put Toms River South behind the eight ball when it came to seeding and the result was a draw that not only makes the road harder for the Indians but also the team that has to play them. Neptune, meanwhile, has been pretty steady all year and has a pair of dangerous forwards in Ernst Louisius and Kervins Lafortune to go after the Toms River South back line. The Pick: Neptune, 3-2.
(30) Ranney at (3) Holmdel, 3:45 p.m.
Holmdel might be the favorite to reach the final from this side of the bracket, while Ranney is a rebuilding team that has racked up most of its wins against the teams at the bottom of the Class B Central standings. The Pick: Holmdel, 6-0.
(20) Matawan at (13) Middletown North, 4 p.m.
Matawan was not on the SCT radar after a 1-3 start to the season, but those losses were all to division-championship teams in Holmdel, Colts Neck and Howell. Since then, Matawan has looked much more like a team that could do damage in a postseason setting and the Huskies have a fairly recent history of winning games in the state tournament. They will be up against a Middletown North side that has battled through the Class A North gauntlet and makes scoring a difficult challenge. The Pick: Middletown North, 2-1.
(23) Lacey at (10) Middletown South, 4 p.m.
Every game Lacey has played this season against a SCT qualifying team has either been decided by one goal or a draw, while all but four of Middletown South’s games fall in the same category. With two teams that have played close games so frequently, the edge goes to a Middletown South team that has played a stacked schedule and has shown flashes of being an explosive scoring team. The Pick: Middletown South, 3-1.
(26) Jackson Memorial at (7) Rumson-Fair Haven, 4 p.m.
Jackson Memorial enters Tuesday a dangerous team after picking off Toms River North to qualify for the tournament, then coming back from down 2-0 on Saturday to tie North Brunswick. The Jaguars will try to carry that momentum to an upset of a Rumson team that opened 2022 as the No. 2 team in the Shore Conference before enduring a slow start to the season. The Bulldogs have righted the ship and figure to be dangerous in a postseason setting. The Pick: Rumson, 3-1.
(27) Lakewood at (6) Marlboro, 4 p.m.
While this seems like a big advantage in favor of Marlboro, but both of these teams have played nothing but close games. Marlboro just settled for a tie vs. a Brick Memorial team that did not make the tournament and had given up five-plus goals in two of its previous three matches. Meanwhile, Lakewood finished just a goal shy of Point Boro, 2-1, albeit with a late goal to break up the shutout. Expect Lakewood to hang around, but Marlboro will find a way. The Pick: Marlboro, 2-0.
(28) Manchester at (5) Point Boro, 5 p.m.
These teams will meet for the second time in the span of a week, with Point Boro pulling out the 2-1 victory over the Hawks to clinch a share of the Class B South division title for the first time since 2016. Manchester has firepower with Muberaq Aderogba, Joey Kurak and Evan Weiner, but has also conceded frequently against the better teams on the schedule. This could be one of the more dangerous games for the higher-seeded teams, but Point Boro finds a way. The Pick: Point Boro, 3-2 in overtime.
(12) Long Branch at (21) St. Rose, 4:15 p.m.
This will be a fun game to watch, with two teams that play appealing styles and have been both good and head-scratching at times this season. Long Branch is coming off a hard-earned 2-2 draw vs. Neptune, but has also had a 5-1 loss to Middletown North and a 0-0 draw vs. Matawan. St. Rose has beaten Wall and Lacey, but is also the only team Freehold Boro has defeated. While Diego Nieves has been a productive scoring threat for St. Rose, Long Branch is working with more scoring firepower overall and should find a way to advance. The Pick: Long Branch, 2-1.
(19) Ocean at (14) Wall, 7 p.m.
Ocean had to scratch and claw to stay into the SCT field after dropping to 4-4-1 and is coming off a week in which it was missing a pair of key senior starters. The Spartans should be close to whole going into the tournament and that could make them a scary opponent considering they have wins over Neptune and Long Branch and a close, competitive, 2-1 loss to Holmdel within the last week-and-a-half. Wall, meanwhile, is coming off its biggest win of the season this past week, when the Crimson Knights upended Rumson-Fair Haven on the road in overtime. This is an old B North rivalry between a Wall team that is traditionally a stalwart defensive team and an explosive Ocean team. The Pick: Ocean, 1-0.
(24) Toms River East at (9) Toms River North, 7 p.m.
The second of two divisional matchups in the first round, Toms River North beat Toms River East, 1-0, in overtime when the two met during the regular season. Toms River North had the better of play in that one, but Toms River East hung tough behind sophomore goalkeeper Bobby Calvo and the Raiders still have an extremely dangerous player up top in Kajus Matazinskas. Class A South was an even division all year and given the chance at revenge, Toms River East is a dangerous team at the right time. This round of picks could use an upset and the Raiders look like a live dog. The Pick: Toms River East, 1-0.