Get our free mobile app

It is tempting to view Class A North as the division of death in the Shore Conference, but with so many of its teams thriving in postseason play, it might be the opposite: the division where seasons are made.

Yes, the broken record plays every early September and late October: Class A North is the toughest division in the Shore Conference. Last season, three A North teams reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals with Christian Brothers Academy winning it all, two won NJSIAA sectional titles, three reached sectional championship games and four made it to the sectional semifinal round. As for filling out three of the four spots in the SCT semifinals, that was the fourth time since 2007 Class A North has done that while no other division has done it once.

Now that we have established A North’s superiority over the years, here is a notice to the rest of the Shore Conference: the door is open this season. Of the eight teams in Class A North, only one returns the majority of last year’s starting lineup and that is a Middletown North squad that went 6-12 a year ago. There will still be multiple SCT contenders in the division and CBA is again the favorite to finish No. 1, but the prospect of A North matching the postseason success of 2021 is a longshot. Even in a “down” year, however, A North still has a host of quality sides that could help defy any long odds.

In predicted order of finish

1. Christian Brothers Academy

Based on the past two seasons, CBA is the dominant program in the Shore Conference and even with a slight majority of the 2021 starting lineup now graduated, the Colts should, as usual, be considered the default favorite. The 2020 and 2021 seasons suggest that to be the case, with the Colts posting a record of 33-2-1 over the past two seasons with their only two losses coming outside the Shore Conference (LaSalle, Pa. and Seton Hall Prep). They handled a loaded Toms River North team twice during the course of the 2021 season and turned back the likes of Freehold Township, Rumson-Fair Haven, Holmdel, Ocean, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro and Howell over the course of the past two seasons. When it was time to replace key players in 2021, it did not hamper CBA at all; the Colts steamrolled to a Class A North championship, Shore Conference Tournament title and a South Jersey Non-Public A sectional crown.

Before drawing up the 2022 championship banners in Class A North, it is worth remembering that early in the 2021 season, CBA had to squeak by several A North opponents while a new lineup bonded together. Going back to 2018 and 2019, CBA had its share of individual talent, but encountered its share of slip-ups in both years – losing in the 2018 SCT final and the 2019 SCT semifinal. This is not to re-open any old wounds for the Colts, but only to point out that while CBA has firmly established itself as the class of the Shore Conference on a year-to-year basis, there is recent precedent that serves as a reminder not to count out the rest of the Shore.

CBA junior Will Thygeson shadowed by Toms River North senior David Anderson. (Photo: Tom Smith |
CBA junior Will Thygeson shadowed by Toms River North senior David Anderson. (Photo: Tom Smith |

With all that being said, CBA is set up to run through the Shore Conference again this year as it eyes a return to the top of the state rankings. The Colts came up one win short last season and will play a regular-season schedule that should both prepare them for any postseason opponent while also offering a chance to climb the state rankings early. CBA is set for non-divisional matches vs. Delran, Gill St. Bernard, Monroe, Ocean, LaSalle, and both Chaminade and St. Anthony out of New York. Throw in a tough Class A North schedule and CBA will have a schedule worthy of a top-ranked team if it can continue to win.

To combat such a schedule, CBA will turn to a dangerous attack led by a trio of proven goal-scorers. Will Thygeson and Jack D’Eletto carved up opposing back lines with their speed on either wing, and while 2021 Shore Sports Network Player of the Year and standout striker Dylan Cupo graduated, junior Dylan Millevoi is ready to take over after scoring nine goals as a sophomore a season ago. Returning starters Charlie Papardella and junior Lawrence Mancino lead a defense that boasts some game experience, although the back of the formation took a hit with an injury to returning goalkeeper Joe Grossman that is likely to force him to miss significant time.

The key to CBA’s success in 2022 will be the performance of its midfield, which will feature three new starters, led by junior Dimitry Corba. Although not a regular starter in 2021, Corba was a capable creator while mainly playing off the bench. Like last season, CBA will beat teams with its speed and creativity on the outsides, as well as with a strong defense while hoping all the pieces blend together for a state championship formula.

CBA sophomore Dylan Millevoi. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
CBA sophomore Dylan Millevoi. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Head Coach: Tom Mulligan, seventh season
2021 Record: 20-2 (7-0, first in Class A North)
Key Losses: Dylan Cupo (Forward), Jake Homowitz (Midfield), Declan Kelly (Defense), Jack McGagh (Defense), Ryan Hayes (Goalkeeper), Tiarnan King (Midfield), Marco Mastriani (Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Will Thygeson, Sr., Forward (5 goals, 9 assists)

Jack D’Eletto, Sr., Forward (6 goals, 6 assists)

Dylan Millevoi, Jr., Forward (9 goals, 2 assists)

Dimitry Corba, Jr., Midfield (4 goals, 1 assist)

Logan Szuwalski, Sr., Midfield

John Gambale, Jr., Midfield

Charlie Papardella, Sr., Defense

Lawrence Mancino, Jr., Defense (4 assists)

Christian DeOliveira, Jr., Defense

Max Koczan, Sr., Defense

Miles Gallagher, Jr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Joe Grossman, Jr., Goalkeeper (Injured)

Joe Lucignano, Sr., Defense

Michael Sheridan, Sr., Midfield

Joe Earle, Sr., Forward

Jack Ostrowsky, Sr., Forward

Cameron D’Alterio, Jr., Midfield

Luca Lubrano, Sr., Midfield

Colm Murrer, Sr., Defense

Conor Mellor, Jr., Defense

Sean Galvin, Jr., Defense

Charles Pesce, Jr., Forward

Liam Danaher, Sr., Midfield

Dylan Kielb, Jr., Defense

Nick Mannarino, Jr., Goalkeeper


2. Freehold Township

No team in the Shore Conference has strung together more consecutive winning seasons than Freehold Township, a stretch that spans 18 seasons and two head coaches. For the streak to carry into a 19th season, a new coach will have to take the reins and hit the ground running with one of the state’s top Group IV programs. Mike Tepedino, like his predecessor Josh Mehl, moves from assistant to head coach with designs on keeping the Patriots machine churning in Class A North. Mehl took over a team in 2016 that won the Central Jersey Group IV championship the year prior and went on to guide Freehold Township to a Shore Conference Tournament championship in 2019 and a trip to the Group IV final last season.

Tepedino will look to author a similar story. Freehold Township reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals in Mehl’s first season at head coach and a similar outcome would be worthy of Freehold Township’s program expectations. It would also be an outcome worthy of its talent. While the Patriots must replace eight starters from a Group IV finalist, they return three good ones and a group of players who contributed as non-starters – a staple of a Freehold Township program that consistently puts together a deep program and turns over rosters from year-to-year.

Tim Bertscha and Noah Jones return to the midfield as proven starters and all-division-caliber players who will drive the Freehold Township starting XI. Fellow senior Kevin Kuriakose also returns to the lineup to lead the back line that will be an otherwise new group. Seniors Aidan Englander and goalkeeper Jack Goldsmith are new starters, but both made noteworthy contributions to the championship run – Englander as one of the first players off the bench and Goldsmith as a penalty-kick specialist who won his team a shootout vs. Toms River North in the Group IV semifinal. Junior Victor Torres and sophomores Nate Reiser and Michael Gorman are up-and-coming young players in the program who will hold the key to Freehold Township’s fortunes in 2022 and in Tepedino’s ability to keep the Patriots near the top of the conference.

Head Coach: Michael Tepedino, first season
2021 Record: 17-4-2 (6-1, second in Class A North)
Key Losses: Herman Colbert (Forward), J.T. Gold (Midfield), Josh Hocheiser (Midfield), Christian Mojares (Defense), Ryan Keegan (Midfield), Logan Mullaney (Defense), Sean Keegan (Sr., Midfield/Defense), Hunter Torre (Defense), Richard Lockard (Goalkeeper), Giancarlo Pantano (Goalkeeper), James Stanley (Forward), Josh Jerome (So., Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Aidan Englander, Sr., Forward (1 goal, 3 assists)

Victor Torres, Jr., Forward

Tim Bertscha, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 1 assist)

Noah Jones, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 1 assist)

Tyler Santos, Sr., Midfield

Nate Reiser, So., Midfield

Kevin Kuriakose, Sr., Defense

Kyle Chalfin, Sr., Defense

Danny Earhart, Sr., Defense

Michael Gorman, So., Defense

Jack Goldsmith, Sr., Goalkeeper


Key Players

Vincent Brando, So., Forward

Brandon Cooperman, So., Defense

Vincent DiUbaldi, Jr., Defense

Alessandro Principato, Jr., Midfield

Owen Chapman, Sr., Forward


3. Manalapan

The 2022 season was a transformative year for Manalapan, which went 0-10-1 in 2020 and flipped the script in 2021 with a third-place finish in Class A North and a trip to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2014. The Braves did it with defense and tactical discipline, as well as with a senior-driven effort from a group that came into last season with a chip on its collective shoulder. While many of those players are now gone, the Braves bring back a group four starters in the field and one of the Shore’s top returning goalkeepers in junior Matteo Paolillo.

Manalapan will again be strong in the back with returning starters Jacob Hyams and Travis Butash leading the way in front of Paolillo. Vincent Bright and Dylan Cassidy round out the defense, meaning that, between the back four and the keeper, Manalapan will have only one senior protecting the net. On the other hand, three of the five players were part of a unit that conceded only 17 goals in 18 games in 2021.

Despite a resurgent 2021 season, Manalapan still battled scoring inconsistency with only 20 goals in those 17 matches and will have to replace three regular contributors to the scoring effort in Jimmy Bruno, Jonah Ortega and Aditya Kasina. The silver lining is returning senior midfielder Anthony Sarkisov led the team in scoring and was an all-division player as a junior. Tyler Pylarinos joins him as a returning starter in the midfield and the new group of players on the attack will be led by senior Max Dobrych – a key contributor off the bench a season ago. It will take some development of new starters, but Manalapan is positioned to make another challenge for the A North public division title and, perhaps, finish the job in 2022.

Head Coach: Kerry Eisman, eighth season
2021 Record: 8-4-6 (4-2-1, third in Class A North)
Key Losses: Jimmy Bruno (Midfield), Jonah Ortega (Midfield), Aditya Kasina (Forward), Conor Kinnucane (Defense), Drew Gross (Defense), Aiden Derby (Defense), Randy Spencer (Defense), Aiden Solomon (Forward), Ryan Super (Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Max Dobrych, Sr., Forward

Steven Bechutsky, Jr., Forward

Jon Luz, So., Forward; Anzo Anzivino, Jr., Forward; Tyler Kats, Jr., Forward

Anthony Sarkisov, Sr., Midfield (4 goals, 3 assists)

Tyler Pylarinos, Sr., Midfield

Andrew DeRosa, Jr., Midfield; Luca Morano, Jr., Midfield

Jacob Hyams, Sr., Defense

Travis Butash, Jr., Defense

Vincent Bright, Jr., Defense

Dylan Cassidy, So., Defense

Matteo Paolillo, Jr., Goalkeeper (9 shutouts, 17 goals allowed in 18 games)


Other Key Players

Jacob Avivi, Jr., Midfield

Jacob Popper, Sr., Goalkeeper

Jason Dumon, Jr., Midfield

Vito Gentile, Sr., Forward

Julian Lia, Jr., Midfield

Michael Pepe, Jr., Midfield


4. Marlboro

Like Manalapan, Marlboro put a forgettable 2020 season behind it in order to put together a much better season in 2021. The Mustangs only finished .500, but that was while playing in a difficult Class A North division. Marlboro also had its share of scoring difficulties with 22 goals in 16 games and will be trying to replace its 2021 top scorer in Max Rosen.

The Mustangs had a number of players contribute to the scoring effort beyond Rosen, with two noteworthy names back in the fold for 2022. Senior Logan Simon was second on the team with three goals and classmate Miles Richardson came on strong at the end of the season as another option as a forward or attacking midfielder. Junior Matt Ringel is the other player slotted for a starting spot up top and is one of several new starters who are either juniors or sophomores eager to make an immediate difference. The midfield is where Marlboro will have the least experience, with sophomores Jake Langella and Trevor Barrett in line to start and junior Wyatt Oechsner a frontrunner to occupy one of the midfield spots.

Defensively, Marlboro should remain strong after giving up 17 goals in 16 2021 matches. Cooper Laitman and Zack Laitman return as part of an all-senior back line that will also include returning starter Evan Torillo and first-year starter Cade Jacobs. Jake Bono takes over in goal as the replacement for four-year starter Nick Tango and will benefit from the experience directly in front of him as he settles into the starting job. There are some scoring questions, but the Mustangs have the ingredients to make a run at what looks like a relatively-up-for-grabs race for the public division title in Class A North.

Head Coach: Ryan Morris, fifth season
2021 Record: 7-7-2 (4-3, fourth in Class A North)
Key Losses: Max Rosen (Midfield), Nick Tango (Goalkeeper), Dan Cohen (Defense), Scott Vituli (Defense), Dylan Kipperman (Midfield), Alex Fischler (Forward), Matt Sherer (Defense), Griffin Wolfe (Forward), Mike Loges (Defense), Matt Kaplan (Midfield/Defense)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Logan Simon, Sr., Forward (3 goals)

Matt Ringel, Jr., Forward

Miles Richardson, Sr., Forward/Midfield (2 goals)

Jake Langella, So., Midfield/Forward

Trevor Barrett, So., Midfield

Wyatt Oechsner, Jr., Midfield

Evan Torillo, Sr., Defense/Midfield

Cooper Laitman, Sr., Defense

Zack Laitman, Sr., Defense

Cade Jacobs, Sr., Defense

Jake Bono, Sr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Ian Farbman, Sr.

Ryan Cohen, Jr.

Yasine Isa, Jr.

Nick Bisconti, So.


5. Middletown North

With a young, inexperienced team in 2021, Middletown North took its lumps, particularly in Class A North. The Lions’ first three division losses last year – to CBA, Howell and Freehold Township – were by a combined score of 17-0 and their only win was a 1-0 triumph over rival Middletown South. Outside the division, however, Middletown North won five of its first six matches, with only a 1-0 loss to Holmdel going against the Lions. After climbing back to 6-7 overall, though, the Lions lost their last five matches of the season and will head into 2022 hoping to wash that bad taste out of their collective mouth.

The benefit to playing last season with so many inexperienced underclassmen is that Middletown North won’t be working with so much inexperience this season. The four starting midfielders all return with starting experience in some form, led by juniors Tommy Valinotti and Travis Soto. With five goals last season, Soto was the team’s top goal-scorer and its second-leading scorer was current sophomore defender Ryan Barnao. For the Lions to take a step forward, they will be looking for more production from its group of forwards, led by senior Michael Colantino.

Barnao and All-Shore fullback C.J. Crolius will lead what should be one of the division’s better defenses. Crolius has been a standout marking back and will man the middle of the defense in his fourth year as a starter in the back. Juniors Liam O’Keefe and Jake Isaksen round out the back four in front of returning goalkeeper Andrew Marinelli – a group that should be ready to significantly improve on the 42 goals allowed in 18 games in 2022.

Head Coach: Eric Morley, third season
2021 Record: 6-12 (1-6 in Class A North)
Key Losses: Chris Jensen (Midfield), Dom Soares (Forward), Sam Calhoun (Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Michael Colantino, Sr., Forward

Josiah Stepney, Jr., Forward

Tommy Valinotti, Jr., Midfield (1 goal, 3 assists)

Travis Soto, Jr., Midfield (5 goals, 1 assist)

Matt Silva, Jr., Midfield

Nick Dinella, So., Midfield

Jake Isaksen, Jr., Defense/Midfield

C.J. Crolius, Sr., Defense

Ryan Barnao, So., Defense (4 goals, 2 assists)

Liam O’Keefe, Jr., Defense

Andrew Marinelli, Sr., Goalkeeper (1 shutout)


Other Key Players

Landon Terrell, Goalkeeper

Cameron DelGrosso, Fr., Midfield

Andy Avram, Jr., Forward

Kevin Cardella, Jr., Defense

Anthony Giamanco, Jr., Forward

C.J. Sanford, Sr., Midfield

Vincent Valinotti, Sr., Midfield


6. Howell

Howell had one of the stranger seasons of any team in the Shore Conference, but strange ended up working out in the Rebels’ favor by the end of the season. During divisional play, Howell had trouble closing out wins, with five one-goal losses on the way to a 2-5 finish in the division. As a matter of fact, all seven of Howell’s losses last season were by a single goal to a team from Class A North, with Freehold Township eliminating Howell in both the Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Tournament. While the season ended with another frustrating, one-goal defeat to their division rivals, Howell made it to the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals as a No. 13 seed.

The Rebels return with six new starters in the field, while returning a pair of dependable scorers to go with a second-year starting goalkeeper. R.J. Eckelman scored six goals and was a set-piece artist who racked up 12 assists during a breakout junior season, while Nick Spisak is an athletic midfielder who came on strong over the course of his junior season. Seniors Marcello Romano and Gavin Soutar also return to the field and Charlie Scanlon will be back between the pipes after surrendering only 17 goals in 19 games.

Soutar is the only returning defender from 2021, so Howell’s defense will need early returns from Anthony Sosa, Brent Roman and sophomore Tyler Maser in order to approach similar goals-allowed numbers in 2022. Eckelman could also play in the back if the need arises, but with juniors Bryan Ocholla, J.P. Candela and Aiden Vandergoot all playing on the attack as first-year starters, the Rebels may need the scoring threat just as much. With the taste of postseason success last season and other teams in the division also graduating the bulk of their lineups, Howell is still in position to contend during the postseason while perhaps playing its way into a little better fortune during the A North season.

Head Coach: Rich Yuro, 31st season
2021 Record: 11-7-1 (2-5, sixth in Class A North)
Key Losses: Kris Maza (Midfield), Chris Osario-Rodriguez (Midfield), Andrew Louis (Forward), Marc Tango (Defense), Rudy Braun (Midfield), Ken Emerick (Defense), Tyler Gabrielsen (Defense), Rob Lacqua (Defense), John Castanheda (Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

R.J. Eckelman, Sr., Forward (6 goals, 12 assists)

Bryan Ocholla, Jr., Forward

Nick Spisak, Sr., Midfield (5 goals, 5 assists)

Marcello Romano, Sr., Midfield

J.P. Candela, Jr., Midfield

Aiden VanderGoot, Jr., Midfield

Gavin Soutar, Sr., Defense

Anthony Sosa, Jr., Defense

Brent Roman, Jr., Defense

Ty Maser, So., Defense

Charlie Scanlon, Sr., Goalkeeper (9 shutouts, 17 goals allowed in 19 games)


7. Middletown South

Although Middletown South finished in the basement of the Class A North standings, there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Eagles under first-year coach Dan Riverso. They managed to salvage a division draw with Shore Conference Tournament semifinalist Manalapan and went 3-3 against good collection of non-divisional opponents. Over the course of 2021, the Eagles got a lot of players on the field, so while they will be replacing six starters, they will also have a good foundation of experience.

Seniors Alex Soto and Olli Muniz will lead the midfield, while classmates Marcelo Soto and Lucas Mielnikiewicz captain the defense. With a pair of senior leaders at two levels of the formation, Middletown South will be looking for scoring punch from its trio of forwards: Shawn McCann, Ray Anachino and Chris Mendina. Sophomore Matteo Miglio will also help out on the attack and the defense will play in front of new goalkeeper Zach Archibald. With some turnover in the rest of the division and positive finish to 2021, Middletown South could be a legitimate sleeper to storm into the top-half of the division standings.

Head Coach: Dan Riverso, second season
2021 Record: 3-9-1 (0-6-1, eighth in Class A North)
Key Losses: Ryan Jerome (Midfield), Alex Quintano (Defense), Niko Kousouris (Defense), Collin Jaffe (Forward), Michael DeOliveira (Goalkeeper)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Shawn McCann, Jr., Forward

Chris Mendina, Sr., Forward

Ray Anachino, Jr., Forward (1 goal)

Alex Soto, Sr., Midfield (3 goals)

Olli Muniz, Sr., Midfield

Matteo Miglio, So., Midfield

Marcelo Soto, Sr., Defense

Lucas Mielnikiewicz, Sr., Defense

Ryan Denery, Jr., Defense

Will Welsh, Jr., Defense

Zach Archibald, Sr., Goalkeeper


8. Freehold Boro

The Class B North division was not kind to Freehold Boro last season and now the Colonials will have to make the move to Class A North, which has traditionally been the toughest of the Shore Conference divisions. In this particular season, it may not be such a bad move considering the teams in Class A North, on the whole, are losing more talent than the ones in B North, but Freehold Boro is still entering A North on the ground floor.

Count Freehold Boro among the Class A North teams that will be replacing a slight majority of the starting lineup. Junior Ammar Danish emerged late in his sophomore season as one of the team’s top scorers and will be a target up top in 2022. Seniors Colin Wozniak and Advait Gupta will key the midfield after starting in 2021, while junior Daniel Austin and senior Kieran McLean return to the back line. Replacing capable goalkeepers Owen Gebler and Alberto Pantoja will be a challenge for sophomore Angel Tlacoxolal, particularly against some of A North’s top finishers. The degree of difficulty will be high in 2022, but the Colonials will have a fighting chance in an A North division that might be a little bit easier to navigate than it has been in most years.

Head Coach: Mike Parshelunis, fifth season
2021 Record: 5-11-2 (1-5-1, seventh in Class B North)
Key Losses: Tharnthong Phua (Sr., Forward), Jonathan Min (Sr., Defense/Midfield), Owen Gelber (Sr., Goalkeeper/Forward), Alberto Pantoja (Sr., Goalkeeper), Vishal Rajmathan (Midfield), Jonathan Lopez (Sr., Forward), Silverio Ortiz (Sr., Midfield), Jake Turner (Sr., Midfield)

Projected XI (Returning Starters in Bold)

Ammar Danish, Jr., Forward (3 goals, 3 assists)

Michael Faller, So., Forward

Colin Wozniak, Sr., Midfield

Advait Gupta, Sr., Midfield

Nelson Orellana, Jr., Midfield

Daniel Austin, Jr., Midfield/Defense

Kieran McLean, Sr., Defense

Gabe Bartra, Sr., Defense

Thomas Hughes, Sr., Defense

Cesar Vivas, Sr., Defense

Angel Tlacoxolal, So., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Michael Pennachio, Jr., Forward

Isai Quiroz Torralba, Fr., Midfield

Cade Cascone, Fr., Goalkeeper


Class A North Starting XI

Will Thygeson, Sr., Forward, CBA

Jack D’Eletto, Sr., Forward, CBA

R.J. Eckelman, Sr., Forward, Howell

Dylan Millevoi, Sr., Forward/Midfield, CBA

Tim Bertscha, Sr., Midfield, Freehold Twp.

Anthony Sarkisov, Sr., Midfield, Manalapan

Nick Spisak, Sr., Midfield, Howell

Lawrence Mancino, Jr., Defense, CBA

Cooper Laitman, Sr., Defense, Marlboro

C.J. Crolius, Sr., Defense, Middletown North

Matteo Paolillo, Jr., Goalkeeper Manalapan


Breakout Players to Watch

Dimitry Corba, Jr., Midfield, CBA

Noah Jones, Sr., Midfield, Freehold Twp.

Miles Richardson, Sr., Forward/Midfield, Marlboro

Shawn McCann, Jr., Forward, Middletown South

Ammar Danish, Jr., Forward, Freehold Boro


More From Shore Sports Network