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It is only early September, but anyone anxious to find out what will happen in the NJSIAA boys soccer tournament in late October can get an early look at Central Jersey Group II just by following the Class A Central division of the Shore Conference. The regular season in A Central could very well serve as a crystal ball for the postseason, with three perennial contenders – Rumson-Fair Haven, Holmdel and Wall – now sharing a division with sleepers like Raritan, Monmouth Regional and Shore Regional, although Shore has now moved to Group I.

In its best years, Class A Central also produces Shore Conference Tournament title contenders, with Holmdel, Manasquan and Rumson all making runs to the final over the last decade. This season could produce another finalist, with Rumson returning most of its Central Jersey Group II championship team while Holmdel and Wall figure to remain in the hunt. There are greater questions beyond the top three than there have been for the past several years, but the race for the division title should be entertaining and Class A Central figures to be well-represented in the postseason.

In predicted order of finish

1. Rumson-Fair Haven

Riding high off the first ever NJSIAA sectional championship in program history, Rumson-Fair Haven rolls into 2022 hoping to run it back and then some. The Bulldogs won the Class A Central championship before capturing the Central Group II title with an overtime win over rival Holmdel. The golden goal came from Alec Pentikis, who returns for his senior season in 2022 hoping to make a run at the Shore Conference Player of the Year while leading Rumson to even greater heights this fall.

Pentikis is one of eight players who return to Rumson with starting experience, with several of them posting noteworthy goal-scoring numbers a year ago as well. The Bulldogs will play primarily with three up top and the two forwards flanking Pentikis – sophomore Ronan Hogg and senior Jacob Brown – each scored four goals in 2021, giving Rumson a total of 24 returning goals among the trio. Throw in returning center midfielder Antonio Santos (seven goals and six assists) and the Bulldogs will be bringing back 30-plus goals from a sectional-championship team.

The rest of the formation will have some experience as well, with juniors Declan Fry and Liam Barnette rounding out the midfield and seniors Reece Moroney and Marco Gagnemi returning to the Rumson defense. The three new starters will be fullbacks Jonathan Lauria and Padraig Flynn, plus a new goalkeeper to replace three-year starter Aiden Colburn. Spencer Smith lines up as the new starter in goal and will have plenty of support around the field to help him ease into the job.

Even coming off its most successful season in program history, Rumson still has plenty of unfinished business. The Bulldogs failed to reach the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and got barreled by a young Delran side, 6-2, in the Group II semifinal. To take the next step in 2022, Rumson will look to make a deeper SCT run, defend the Central Group II title and figure out a way to hang with Delran should the Bears be waiting in the Group II semifinal again this season. Last year was indeed an unprecedented season at Rumson, but the Bulldogs remain hungrier than ever.

Rumson junior Alec Pentikis scored the winning goal in the Central Group II Final vs. Holmdel. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Rumson senior Alec Pentikis scored the winning goal in the 2021 Central Group II Final vs. Holmdel. (Photo: Tom Smith |

Head Coach: Jeff Soares, fourth season
2021 Record: 11-6-3 (5-0-1, first in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Luke Pentikis (Sr., Midfield), Harrison Gibson (Sr., Midfield), Aiden Colburn (Sr., Goalkeeper), Michael Calabrese (Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Alec Pentikis, Sr., Forward (16 goals, 4 assists)

Ronan Hogg, So., Forward (4 goals, 1 assist)

Jacob Brown, Sr., Forward (4 goals, 2 assists)

Antonio Santos, Sr., Midfield (7 goals, 6 assists)

Declan Fry, Jr., Midfield

Liam Barnette, Jr., Midfield

Reece Moroney, Sr., Defense

Marco Gangemi, Sr., Defense

Jonathan Lauria, Sr., Defense

Padraig Flynn, Jr., Defense

Spencer Smith, Jr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Harrison Rosen, Sr., Forward

Luke DeAngelo, So., Forward


2. Holmdel

Holmdel was a bounce of the ball away from denying Rumson its first ever sectional championship while adding to its collection of NJSIAA titles over the last decade-and-a-half. There should be little doubt by now that the Hornets are always in a position to reload with more talent and contend for postseason titles and despite losing three major players in striker Brendan Worobel, central defender Lucas Arciola and goalkeeper Tommy Chyzowych, this year offers a similar opportunity.

As impactful as those three players were, Holmdel will still have a starter back at the majority of spots in the opening-day lineup. Senior Max Woodward and junior David Weiner are the two returning standouts and while their numbers were not especially robust a year ago, both showed an increasing knack for producing goal-scoring chances down the stretch of the season as teams keyed on Worobel. The Hornets will not have that proven scorer up top, but then again, Worobel came into 2021 with one career goal at the varsity level and turned into one of the Shore’s best scorers.

Among the Holmdel players hoping to break out as top scorers are Frankie Brusco, Stephan Kapranov and Colin Hynes. Busco scored the lone Holmdel goal in the sectional final at Rumson and would like to use that as a springboard for a big junior season playing in front of Weiner and Woodward. In the back, meanwhile, Aidan Hynes and Jeremy Topel lead a defense that will have less margin for error without Chyzowych to clean up around the net. Ilan Golden and Andrew Arrendondo both have game experience playing in place of Chyzowych over the past two seasons, but even with Holmdel’s history of churning out quality goalkeepers, neither should be expected to clear the bar set by Chyzowych.

The standards, in general, are high at Holmdel when it comes to soccer and despite some challenges in replacing highly-productive players, this year’s team will expect to meet them – even if it means overcoming an imposing Rumson-Fair Haven squad and several other quality teams in Class A Central.

Head Coach: Matt Isaacson, third season
2021 Record: 12-6-1 (4-2, tied second in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Tommy Chyzowych (Goalkeeper), Brendan Worobel (Forward), Bryce Calhoun (Sr., Midfield), Lucas Arciola (Sr., Defense), Ben Sammut (Sr., Defense)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Frankie Brusco, Jr., Forward

Stephan Kapranov, So., Forward; Colin Hynes, Sr., Forward

Max Woodward, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 1 assist)

David Weiner, Jr., Midfield (4 goals, 4 assists)

Jaime Palmer, Jr., Midfield

Connor Capaci, Sr., Midfield; Luke Brand, Jr., Midfield

Aidan Hynes, Sr., Defense

Jeremy Topel, Sr., Defense

Jackson O’Donnor, So., Defense

Tyler Gravier, So., Defense

Ilan Golden, Sr., Goalkeeper; Andrew Arrendondo, Sr., Goalkeeper


Key Players

Andrew Reddy, Sr., Defense

Anthony Marzano, Sr., Defense

Kieran Hynes, So., Midfield


3. Wall

After years of being a constant in the NJSIAA Group III and Shore Conference Class B North landscapes, Wall is now a Group II program playing in Class A Central. The move to Group II officially came last season, when the Crimson Knights lost on penalties to Holmdel in the Central II quarterfinals – the second straight NJSIAA Tournament run that ended on penalties for Wall. Three years after losing the Group III final on penalties and a year after having to settle for a three-way tie for the Class B North title, Wall has its sights set on the top of Class A Central and a sectional championship in CJ II.

Wall’s program depth will be tested this season after the Crimson Knights graduated seven starters and the vast majority of their goals from 2021. Last season, Wall’s challenge was replacing its dominant 2020 defense and did so with a unit that included three players who are back this year. Losing Dan Hyde to graduation is a big hit, but Matt Armenti, Chris Miller and Tristan O’Neill form a senior trio who will hold it down in front of new junior goalkeeper Charles Schirmer as Wall transitions to a 3-5-2 formation.

Junior Cooper Harmon is the only returning non-defender in the starting lineup, but the Crimson Knights do have a proven scorer joining the first XI after Nick Damiano scored four goals and three assists coming off the bench last season. James Damiano, Patrick Soutwell and Cole Metzheister are all seniors up top, so Wall will be depending on guys who have put in the work and waited their turn to deliver the scoring. The Crimson Knights beat Rumson in the state tournament and they were right there in a loss to Holmdel, so while those other teams are bringing more back to their respective lineups, Wall is not far off, if it is off at all.

Head Coach: Garry Linstra, 21st season
2021 Record: 10-4-3 (4-1-2, tied first in Class B North)
Key Losses: Terence Byrnes (Sr., Forward), Dan Hyde (Sr., Defense), Emmett Aravich (Sr., Midfield), Matt Murphy (Sr., Midfield), Kyle Horowitz (Sr., Defense), Joe Gisoldi (Sr., Goalkeeper), Ryan Molloy (Sr., Forward), Dan Burns (Sr., Forward)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

James Damiano, Sr., Forward

Patrick Southwell, Sr., Forward/Midfield

Cole Metzheister, Sr., Forward/Midfield

Nick Damiano, Jr., Midfield (4 goals, 3 assists)

Jake Petillo, Jr., Midfield

Cooper Harmon, Jr., Midfield

Ryan Gotsch, Sr., Midfield

Matt Armenti, Sr., Defense

Chris Miller, Sr., Defense

Tristan O’Neill, Sr., Defense

Charles Schirmer, Jr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Thomas Ekberg, So., Goalkeeper

Justin Wright, Sr., Goalkeper

Boden Pepe, Sr., Midfield

Chris Dailey, Jr., Midfield

Kian Nucciarone, Sr., Midfield

Calvin Ni, Sr., Forward

Colin Roarty, Jr., Forward

Ryan Anderson, So., Defense

Luke Bigley, Jr., Defense

Michael Southwell, So., Midfield

Robert Keegan, So., Midfield


4. Raritan

The Class A Central division has been long on contenders over the past several years and Raritan has been in that conversation before. The Rockets were not, however, in it last year, as they could not overcome the loss to All-Shore star Chris Fontanazza and a strong overall senior class a year ago, finishing with only three wins. To get back to the level they reached in 2020, the Rockets will have to overtake teams like Monmouth and Shore Regional while keeping up with likely contenders Rumson, Holmdel and Wall.

There is optimism for a bounceback year for Raritan with senior Lup Ryder coming back for his fourth varsity season. Ryder finished six goals a year ago after putting up double-digits as a sophomore, so a resurgence at Raritan starts with freeing up Ryder to finish at the rate he did two years ago. Midfielders Mike Pereira and Stefan Cojocariu will help in that endeavor along with first-year senior starters Lucas Hutnik, Jack Granite and James Brackett.

Dan Ryder leads a senior-heavy defense that also includes classmates Jason Pizzaia and Tyler Losey as first-year starters along with returning junior starter Liam McGinn. Raritan has a new goalkeeper for the second straight season after graduating All-Shore goalie and three-year starter Gavin Hersey following 2020 and that responsibility will fall on junior Vinny Sadowski. Keeping up with the top teams in A Central over the course of the regular season will be a difficult task for a team coming off a three-win season, but Raritan has enough weapons to put a scare into any team in the division.

Head Coach: Gregg Cohen, fifth season
2021 Record: 3-10 (2-4, sixth in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Matt Fogarty (Midfield), Steven Amodeo (Midfield), Justin Tennant (Goalkeeper), Cole Bailey (Defense), Dan O’Chat (Midfield), Scott Gomes (Defense)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Lupo Ryder, Sr., Forward (6 goals)

Lucas Hutnik, Sr., Forward

Mike Pereira, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 2 assists)

Stefan Cojocariu, Jr., Midfield

Jack Granite, Sr., Midfield

James Brackett, Sr., Midfield

Dan Ryder, Sr., Defense

Liam McGinn, Jr., Defense

Jason Pizzaia, Sr., Defense

Tyler Losey, Sr., Defense

Vinny Sadowski, Jr., Goalkeeper


5. Monmouth

Monmouth’s run of talented rosters was set to hit its zenith in 2021, but Ryan Kuldanek opting not to play took some height off the ceiling. The Falcons still had a strong showing with 10 wins and a second-place finish in a tough Class A Central division race, so they have shown an ability to cover the loss of a high-level player. That will be necessary this season, with eight starters from last year graduating and Charlie Seelinger taking over after longtime head coach Darren Spadavecchia stepped down following the season.

The defense will be Monmouth’s strength heading into the season, with junior Anthony Cano and senior Matteo Casalinuovo back, not only as defensive starters but defenders with a nose for the goal as well. The defense will also feature two other seniors in Ian Clancey and Kyle Harczuk, both of whom are in line to make their debuts as opening-day starters. The other returning starter is senior goalkeeper Kyle Desai, so when it comes to controlling the defensive third, Monmouth should not fall off and might even been a level better.

Figuring out who will score the goals is the mystery Monmouth faces heading into the season. The Falcons have a sophomore group at the top of the formation that includes Will Theobald, Sean Wisk and Robert Sherman and getting immediate impact from that young group will be paramount to the success of the team. Hakeem Joseph is ready for greater role as a junior and seniors Phillip Barbosa, Will Taborda and Nicollas Goncalves are eager to make the most of starting opportunities. It’s not an easy division in which to thrive with new starters, but Monmouth’s defense will give the Falcons a chance.

Head Coach: Charles Seelinger, first season
2021 Record: 10-5-6 (4-2, tied second in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Kaan Pehlivan (Midfield/Forward), Ethan Wallace (Midfield), Aiden Hicks (Midfield/Forward), Tommy Siracusa (Defense), Arturo Reyes (Midfield), Chris Theobald (Defense), Prabnoor Singh (Forward), Andy Sanchez (Midfield), Kevin Terhune (Goalkeeper)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Phillip Barbosa, Sr., Forward; Robert Sherman, So., Forward

Will Theobald, So., Forward/Midfield (3 goals, 3 assists)

Sean Wisk, So., Forward/Midfield

Hakeem Joseph, Jr., Midfield

William Taborda, Sr., Midfield

Nicollas Goncalves, Sr., Midfield

Anthony Cano, Jr., Midfield/Defense (5 goals, 5 assists)

Matteo Casalinuovo, Sr., Defense (4 goals, 1 assist)

Ian Clancey, Sr., Defense

Kyle Harczuk, Sr., Defense

Kyle Desai, Sr., Goalkeeper (2 shutouts)


Other Key Players

Tanner Simpson, So., Midfield

Luca Tvrdik, Fr., Forward

Matthew Porto, Jr., Forward


6. Shore

Shore had the makings of a promising young 2022 roster and that remains the case, to some extent. The Blue Devils were in line to return their top-three goal-scorers from 2021, but will have to make do with just senior and leading goal-scorer Nick DiNapoli back in the fold. Junior Maxx Eichenbaum and sophomore Jadyn DeRosa both opted to play academy soccer this fall, adding two more losses from a 2021 starting lineup that also graduated six players from the first XI.

While the eight new starters will have to immediately pick up the slack, it will help having DiNapoli’s goal-scoring ability at the top of the formation, as well as two capable junior goalkeepers in Kevin Barfield and Brad Alcini in net. In between the front and back of the formation, however, is an unknown, with only senior midfielder Connor Katz returning as a starter. The defense, in particular, could see a big dropoff, although senior Max DeOliveira is focused on leading a unit that includes two sophomores (Grant Hess and Tyler Zacharczyk) and a junior Tyler Jackson.

Like last year, Shore will be relying on some young, inexperienced players for scoring and after that experiment rather well during an 11-win season, there is a chance for the Blue Devils to catch lightning again. Freshmen Santino Scarponi and Cooper Attaway will make an immediate impact on the attack, while sophomores Riley Murphy and Lukas Villa are ready for a step forward this season. Eichenbaum and DeRosa were indeed standout players, but their early success showed the current group that when it comes to relying on underclassmen for scoring, it can be done. If the defense rounds into form, the Blue Devils could still be dangerous, particularly in the Group I playoffs.

Head Coach: Christian Pontier, 13th season
2021 Record: 11-5-2 (2-3-1, fifth in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Donovan Davis (Defense), Charles Creighton (Defense), J.C. Gutierrez (Midfield), Jack Walker (Defense), Will LaBruno (Midfield), Joao Pedro Sousa (Defense), David Barham (Midfield), Maxx Eichenbaum (Jr., Forward), Jadyn DeRosa (So., Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Nick DiNapoli, Sr., Forward (9 goals, 3 assists)

Riley Murphy, So., Forward

Cooper Attaway, Fr., Forward

Connor Katz, Sr., Midfield

Lukas Villa, So., Midfield

Santino Scarponi, Fr., Midfield

Grant Hess, So., Defense

Tyler Jackson, Jr., Defense

Maximus DeOliveira, Sr., Defense

Tyler Zacharczyk, So., Defense

Kevin Barfield, Jr., Goalkeeper (5 shutouts); Brad Alcini, Jr., Goalkeeper (2 shutouts)


Other Key Players

Colin McSorley, Sr., Defense

Frank Salamone, Sr., Midfield

Tyler Jackson, Jr., Defense

Sean Newbert, Jr., Midfield

Corey Hazel, So., Midfield

Stephen Molnar, So., Midfield

Leonardo Sgarzi, Sr., Midfield

Nick Bennett, Jr., Defense

Natale Borriello, Jr., Defense

Carson Spallone, Jr., Defense

Madden DeRosa, Fr., Midfield

Joseph Mariani, Fr., Midfield


7. Red Bank Catholic

Cody Calafiore is technically entering his third season as head coach of RBC boys soccer, but he did not fully take over the day-to-day job of coaching the team until last season because he was busy winning half-a-million dollars on Big Brother during the 2020 season. While Calafiore has shown he can dominate reality TV and as a player with both Howell High School and Temple University, he is still in the process of transforming Red Bank Catholic boys soccer into a competitive outfit. The Caseys made strides in Calafiore’s first season, winning five games outside the division and playing a far more competitive brand of soccer with a team that was still fairly young.

RBC will look to take the next step this season by getting results inside the difficult Class A Central division with a team that returns eight starters from 2021. The Caseys will be heavy on experience on the attack with Vincent Coccimiglio, Christian Condon and Saeed Torres set to play up top. Senior Dean Bostad will captain a midfield that also includes promising sophomore Andrew Torregrossa, giving the Caseys a mix of senior leadership and sophomore upside for the front of the formation.

Despite graduating two defensive starters, RBC shapes up to be solid in the back thanks to the return of both senior Robert Milke and junior J.J. Titone in front of standout senior goalkeeper Scott Termotto. Sophomores Jack Keefe and Christian Serman will be the new starters on the defense, which is hoping to take some of the pressure off Termotto, who faced a barrage of shots during divisional play a year ago. With more talent and chemistry around the field this year, RBC should be a more competitive side in divisional play and figures to build on the five-win season from a year ago.

Head Coach: Cody Calafiore, third season
2021 Record: 5-13-1 (0-6, seventh in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Dylan Van Burkel (Defense), Thomas Dreschler (Sr., Defense), Nico Gonzalez (Sr., Forward)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Vincent Coccimiglio, Sr., Forward

Christian Condon, Sr., Midfield/Forward

Saeed Torres, So., Midfeld/Forward

Andrew Torregrossa, So., Midfield

Dean Bolstad, Sr., Midfield

Luke Meyes, So., Midfield

Jack Keefe, So., Defense/Midfield

Robert Milke, Sr., Defense

J.J. Titone, Jr., Defense

Christian Sherman, So., Defense

Scott Termotto, Sr., Goalkeeper (3 shutouts)


Other Key Players

Jeremiah Newman, Sr., Defense (Transfer from Mater Dei Prep)

Dylan Coleman, Jr., Goalkeeper (Transfer from Mater Dei Prep)


Class A Central Starting XI

Alec Pentikis, Sr., Forward, Rumson-Fair Haven

Lupo Ryder, Sr., Forward, Raritan

Nick DiNapoli, Sr., Forward, Shore

Antonio Santos, Sr., Midfield, Rumson-Fair Haven

Max Woodward, Sr., Midfield, Holmdel

David Weiner, Jr., Midfield, Holmdel

Nick Damiano, Jr., Midfield, Wall

Anthony Cano, Jr., Defense, Monmouth

Matteo Casalinuovo, Sr., Defense, Monmouth

Matt Armenti, Sr., Defense, Wall

Scott Termotto, Sr., Goalkeeper, Red Bank Catholic


Breakout Players to Watch

Ronan Hogg, So., Forward, Rumson-Fair Haven

Cooper Harmon, Jr., Midfield, Wall

Will Theobald, So., Forward Monmouth

Frankie Busco, Jr., Forward, Holmdel

Santino Scarponi, Fr., Midfield, Shore


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