The first ever group stage of the Shore Conference Tournament is nearly complete and the traditional tournament is set to begin on Monday. With that, it is time to piece together the tournament field, which should be easier to seed this season but will also feature some new dynamics compared to past years.

With the top two teams from each of the 11 SCT groups advancing to the tournament, 10 of the 11 groups have determined their two qualifiers and one team in the 11th and final group is already in. That leaves one spot still left to fill, with either Point Pleasant Boro or Red Bank grabbing the final spot.

After taking a look at the field at the start of the week, let’s take an updated look back at each of the groups. If you want to cut to the chase and check out the early projection of the tournament bracket, that follows the group-by-group look.

Group 1


CBA 6, Neptune 0

Jackson Liberty 2, Pinelands 0

Jackson Liberty 4, Neptune 1

CBA 5, Jackson Liberty 0

Pinelands 4, Neptune 1

CBA 5, Pinelands 0


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

CBA (9 points, +16 goal differential)
Jackson Liberty (6 points, +1 goal differential)
Pinelands (3 points, -4 goal differential)
Neptune (0 points, -13 goal differential)

CBA advancing out of Group 1 as the No. 1 team was to be expected, but the No. 2 position was the real competition within this group. The other three teams in the group are all in the bottom half of their respective divisions and it is Jackson Liberty that will be advancing into the knockout round. While CBA will be No. 1 overall, Jackson Liberty -- the last-place team in Class A South -- will be somewhere near the bottom of the seeding. The Lions, though, won't be intimidated by highly-ranked teams: they have stared down CBA, Southern, Toms River North and Central.


Group 2


Central 4, Manchester 3

Holmdel 7, Manchester 2

Holmdel 0, Howell 0

Howell 3, Central 1

Central 2, Holmdel 1

Howell 1, Manchester 0


Final Group Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Howell (7 points, +3 goal differential)
Central (6 points, 0 goal differential)

Holmdel (4 points, +4 goal differential)
Manchester (0 points, -7 goal differential)

The most shocking set of table in Shore Conference Tournament group play comes from Group 2, where the No. 2 ranked team in the Shore Sports Network Shore 16 rankings was bounced from the tournament. Central Regional shocked Holmdel, 2-1, on Saturday to eliminate the No. 2 Hornets – a devastating loss for a team that entered the game undefeated and caught two very bad breaks earlier in group play. First, in a game vs. first-place Howell, Holmdel gained a man advantage when Howell leading scorer Nick Turturro was sent off with his second yellow card of the match, but lightning ended the game shortly thereafter and, by rule, the restarted game allowed for Turturro to play and for Howell to play with a full side.

The second bad break for Holmdel was when the Hornets did restart the game vs. Howell, start midfielder Stefan Kapranov was sick that day and was unable to play. The Hornets settled for a 0-0 draw while playing without their top scorer.

While Holmdel was the odd team out, it would have been just as heartbreaker for Central to miss out on the knockout round. The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their best season in years and slotting into a group with Holmdel and Howell – two of the top-five teams in the conference – was a brutal draw for an upstart team. While the elimination of Holmdel before the knockout stage reveals the cursed nature of this format, the moment Central produced by upsetting the Hornets is also what makes it so compelling.


Group 3


Manasquan 4, Freehold Twp. 1

St. Rose 1, Raritan 0

Manasquan 3, Raritan 2 (OT)

Raritan 4, Freehold Twp. 1

St. Rose 6, Manasquan 0

St. Rose 2, Freehold Twp. 0


Final Group Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

St. Rose (9 points, +0 goal differential)
Manasquan (6 points, -2 goal differential)

Raritan (3 points, +1 goal differential)
Freehold Twp. (0 points, -8 goal differential)

While Group 2 provided the biggest surprise of the group stage, Group 3 was not far behind. Prior to this season, Freehold Township had qualified for each of the last 19 Shore Conference Tournaments and by the end of the group stage, the Patriots’ streak ended with a 0-3 mark.

Freehold Township’s last-place finish, while surprising, was just the warm-up act when it comes to surprise outcomes in Group 3. Manasquan figured to be the team to beat in the group after handling Freehold Township, topping Raritan and taking Holmdel to overtime on Friday in a non-group game, but got a reality check from St. Rose on Monday. The Purple Roses crushed Manasquan, 6-0, to effectively win the group. Manasquan still found its way in thanks to Raritan’s win over Freehold Township.

One wrinkle that could come from Group 3 is a wild card bid for Raritan despite the Rockets finishing third place. When facing St. Rose, Raritan was trailing, 1-0, when the game was called due to lightning a little past the midway point of the second half. With Raritan three points from nabbing second place in the group, those lost 10-to-15 minutes might have kept the Rockets out, which could be grounds for awarding the Rockets with a wild card. Tournament director and Freehold Boro athletic director Josh Mehl said there will be wild cards spots considered under extenuating circumstances, but he was not prepared to rule on any specific case.


Group 4


Freehold Boro 3, Barnegat 0

Marlboro 0, Toms River East 0

Marlboro 4, Freehold Boro 1

Marlboro 6, Barnegat 0

Toms River East 3, Barnegat 0

Toms River East 5, Freehold Boro 2


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Marlboro (7 points, +9 goal differential)
Toms River East (7 points, +6 goal differential)
Freehold Boro (3 points, -3 goal differential)
Barnegat (0 points, -9 goal differential)

Marlboro and Toms River East tied in a game that lasted only about 50 minutes, then produced similar results against Freehold Boro and Barnegat. Marlboro beating Barnegat by six goals while Toms River East beat the Bengals by three. Both teams will likely fall in similar positions within their respective sections of the seeding -- Marlboro with the first-place teams and Toms River East within the runners-up.


Group 5


Manalapan 4, Wall 0

St. John Vianney 2, Brick Memorial 0

Manalapan 5, Brick Memorial 0

Wall 2, St. John Vianney 1

Wall 3, Brick Memorial 0

Manalapan 5, St. John Vianney 0


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Manalapan (9 points, +14 goal differential)
Wall (6 points, 0 goal differential)

St. John Vianney (3 points, -4 goal differential)
Brick Memorial (0 points, -10 goal differential)

Group 5 is the first of the settled groups that went mostly according to expectations. Manalapan was comfortably in the top 10 of the Shore Conference to open the season, while Wall is a competitive team even when it has some holes to fill in the starting lineup like it had to open this season. With its win over St. John Vianney over the weekend, Wall nailed down the second spot in the field and will go back to the SCT with some momentum. Manalapan, meanwhile, will almost certainly be a top eight seed, with somewhere in the Nos. 5 through 7 range most likely.


Group 6

Results Through Oct. 2

Rumson-Fair Haven 1, Ocean 1

Ocean 2, Keyport 0

Middletown South 2, Rumson-Fair Haven 1

Middletown South 8, Keyport 0

Rumson-Fair Haven 4, Lakewood 1

Ocean 1, Middletown South 0

Middletown South 0, Lakewood 0

Ocean 1, Lakewood 0

Rumson-Fair Haven 4, Keyport 0


Remaining Games

Keyport at Lakewood – TBA


Current Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Ocean (10 points, +4 goal differential)
Middletown South (7 points, +6 goal differential)
Rumson-Fair Haven (7 points, +6 goal differential)
Lakewood (1 point, -4 goal differential)
Keyport (0 points, -8 goal differential)

Although there are two remaining games to be played in the group, neither will impact which teams advance to the knockout round. There is a chance Rumson could benefit from wild cards being included in the field, which is a consideration, according to Mehl. The five-team field is a disadvantage of sorts, but Keyport has not yet upset any team in the field and Rumson did not beat either of the two teams set to advance. Ocean is likely to fall in the 7-to-9 range of the seeding, while Middletown South has a case to slot in as the third-ranked runner-up.


Group 7


Long Branch 1, Jackson Memorial 0

Brick 3, Ranney 2

Long Branch 2, Ranney 0

Jackson Memorial 0, Brick 0

Jackson Memorial 3, Ranney 0

Long Branch 2, Brick 0


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Long Branch (9 points, +5 goal differential)
Jackson Memorial (4 points, +2 goal differential)
Brick (4 points, -1 goal differential)
Ranney (0 points, -6 goal differential)

Long Branch clinched the top spot in the group with a win over Brick Tuesday -- a result that also gave Jackson Memorial the second spot over Brick. The Green Wave won three low-scoring games, while Jackson Memorial allowed just one goal and while that could be a product of the teams in the field, both sides have been on the stingy side all year. Both figure to be in the bottom-half of their respective seeding groups.


Group 8


Colts Neck 3, Lacey 0

Shore 9, Red Bank Catholic 0

Lacey 7, Red Bank Catholic 0

Colts Neck 7, Red Bank Catholic 0

Colts Neck 4, Shore 2

Shore 1, Lacey 0


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Colts Neck (9 points, +11 goal differential)
Shore (6 points, +5 goal differential)
Lacey (3 points, +2 goal differential)
Red Bank Catholic (0 points, -18 goal differential)

Colts Neck dominated group play and is unbeaten in Class B North division play, but is 0-2 in all other games after losing to Point Pleasant Boro on Tuesday. That suggests the Cougars have some vulnerabilities, but the 6-0 performance with championships on the line reveal a young team ready for the big game. Shore, meanwhile, has faced plenty of challenges in the form of Colts Neck, Manasquan, Holmdel, Rumson-Fair Haven and Wall.


Group 9


Toms River South 4, Matawan 0

Matawan 4, Henry Hudson 0

Monmouth 7, Henry Hudson 2

Toms River South 4, Henry Hudson 0

Monmouth 4, Matawan 1

Toms River South 2, Monmouth 1


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Toms River South (9 points, +9 goal differential)
Monmouth (6 points, +8 goal differential)

Matawan (3 points, -3 goal differential)
Henry Hudson (0 points, -13 goal differential)

Toms River South and Monmouth each clinched before they met Saturday to decide the group winner. The top spot goes to Toms River South, which has one win within Class A South play, but three in SCT group play. Monmouth, meanwhile, has collected both of its wins this season in group play, which means both the representatives from this group are likely to be seeded toward the tail-end of their respective seeding groups – Toms River South among the group winners and Monmouth among the runners-up.


Group 10

Results Through Sept. 30

Toms River North 3, Middletown North 1

Point Beach 5, Donovan Catholic 2

Toms River North 4, Point Beach 0

Middletown North 5, Donovan Catholic 1

Middletown North 3, Point Beach 1

Toms River North 5, Donovan Catholic 0


Final Standings (Teams in Bold Advance)

Toms River North (6 points, +6 goal differential)
Middletown North (6 points, +4 goal differential)

Point Beach (3 points, -3 goal differential)
Donovan Catholic (0 points, -7 goal differential)

Toms River North and Middletown North have clinched the top two spots and with a head-to-head win over Middletown North, the Mariners earned a spot among the group winners. Both teams are ranked within the top five of the latest Shore 16, so Middletown North will be a dangerous double-digit seed.





Group 11

Results Through Oct. 2

Red Bank 3, Asbury Park 1

Southern 6, Red Bank 1

Point Boro 5, Asbury Park 0

Red Bank 2, Point Boro 0

Southern 4, Asbury Park 1


Remaining Games

Point Boro at Southern – Friday, Oct. 6


Current Standings

Southern (6 points, +8 goal differential)
Red Bank (6 points, -1 goal differential)
Point Boro (3 points, +3 goal differential)
Asbury Park (0 points, -10 goal differential)

Already Clinched: Southern (at least second place)

Eliminated: Asbury Park

Remaining Clinch Scenarios

Southern: Can clinch first place in the group with a win or tie vs. Point Boro OR a loss to Point Boro by a margin of victory of no more than two goals.

Red Bank: Can clinch second place with a Southern win or tie vs. Point Boro.

Point Boro: Can clinch first place in the group with a win over Southern by a margin of victory of three goals or more. Can clinch second place in the group with a win over Southern by a margin of one or two goals.


Group Winners (Listed by current seed projection among qualifiers)



Toms River North



Colts Neck

St. Rose


Long Branch

Toms River South

Breakdown: In the likely event Southern finishes first in Group 11, the Rams will be one of the top-three seeds. Howell will have to beat Middletown North on Thursday to maintain the No. 2 spot because of Toms River North's convincing win over the Lions -- albeit with two defenders out of the Middletown North lineup. While the order could shuffle, those three teams plus CBA are locks for the top four sopts.

The rest of the top 11 is trickier. Marlboro gets the nod over Manalapan because of a head-to-head win, but Colts Neck has a case to be ahead of both of them. The Cougars' loss to Point Boro on Tuesday takes some wind out of their sails, but does not yet drop them past No. 7.

With a convincing win over Manasquan, St. Rose might have something to say about Colts Neck's positioning, but the Purple Roses also have a loss to Wall and ties vs. St. John Vianney and Point Beach. That win over Manasquan gives St. Rose a leg up on Ocean, which has a head-to-head win over Long Branch. Toms River South has only one win outside of SCT group play, which lands the Indians in the No. 11 spot.


Runners-Up (Listed by current seed projection among qualifiers)

Middletown North



Middletown South



Toms River East

Jackson Memorial

Jackson Liberty



Clinched SCT Berth (Group standing not yet settled)



Teams Still Alive for SCT Berth (Group number)

Red Bank (11)

Point Boro (11)

Breakdown: The order is not yet set, but Middletown North and Central will be the highest-seeded runner-up teams. Middletown North's loss to Freehold Township puts the Lions' status in some question, but they also have two wins over teams that finished first place in a group.

Manasquan gets the third position over Middletown South based on Ocean -- a team Manasquan handled and which beat Middletown South. That could also mean Wall, which has a win over Manasquan, could climb, but the Crimson Knights also lost to Shore, which also lost to Manasquan. Yes, the middle of the runner-up group is complicated.

Toms River East beat Jackson Memorial head-to-head and will be seeded ahead of the Jaguars and the last seed goes to Monmouth because Jackson Liberty has shown to be more competitive against some of the top teams (Central, Southern).

Of the two teams still fighting it out in Group 11, Point Boro would be the higher-seeded option because the Panthers beat Colts Neck and would have to beat Southern to get in. If Red Bank wins, the Bucs would likely edge out Jackson Liberty for No. 20.

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