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Boys Soccer Preview A Central

The 2022 Class A Central race proved that a championship can be decided on just one goal – or in the case of this particular race, one goal on two different occasions.

Rumson-Fair Haven stunned Holmdel on a golden goal in a classic regular-season match between the rivals that gave the Bulldogs the upper hand in the division. Then, the tables turned on Rumson when Wall beat the Bulldogs on a long free kick golden goal in a rain-soaked, overtime win. In the end, Holmdel, Rumson and Wall shared the title and it was two plays in two different games that ultimately decided the outcome.

The intense in-season competition has served A Central well over the years, with Rumson, Holmdel, Wall and Shore Regional all claiming NJSIAA sectional championships since 2019. With Red Bank Catholic moving to Class B Central this season in exchange for a Red Bank Regional side that is under the direction of a noteworthy new coach, the division should be as deep as ever.

Ultimately, there is one clear favorite this season and while that guarantees nothing to Holmdel, the Hornets are the team with the returning talent and the pedigree to do major damage in 2023.

Holmdel sophomore Stephan Kapranov. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Holmdel sophomore Stephan Kapranov. (Photo: Tom Smith |

In predicted order of finish


Fresh off a return to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals and an NJSIAA sectional title for the first time in four years, Holmdel is poised for another decorated season. The Hornets boast the only two returning 2022 Shore Sports Network First-Team All-Shore players in junior striker Stephan Kapranov and senior center midfielder David Weiner – a one-two punch as dangerous as any at the Shore and among the best in the state heading into the season.

Senior Frankie Brusco, senior Jaime Palmer and junior Kieran Hynes each return to the lineup as supporting scoring threats and senior Luke Brand and junior Tyler Gravier return to the back line. Jackson O’Connor was another impact defender as a sophomore, but opted to play in the MLS Next program this fall, leaving Holmdel with three starting defenders to replace, plus a goalkeeper. Sophomore Luke Farrugia returns from the academy ranks to play in the back, while junior Matt Campillay and senior Tyler Siek battle for the starting goalkeeper spot.

With Kapranov and Weiner back, Holmdel should have little trouble scoring compared to other teams around the Shore and in Group II, but there is enough uncertainty around protecting the goal that the rest of the Class A Central field could pose a challenge to the Hornets and all their firepower. Even with different head coaches over the years, Holmdel has sewn together quality defenses year after year, so at some point, the Hornets figure to have a team complete enough to again challenge for SCT and Group II championships.

Holmdel at a Glance

Head Coach: Matt Isaacson, fourth season
2022 Record: 18-3-1 (5-1, tied first in Class A Central)
SCT Group: 2 (Howell, Central, Manchester)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group II
Key Losses: Max Woodward (Midfield), Colin Hynes (Forward), Aidan Hynes (Defense), Jeremy Topel (Defense), Ilan Golden (Goalkeeper), Connor Capaci (Midfield), Jackson O’Connor (Jr., Defense)

Projected XI (With 2022 Stats)

Returning Starters in Bold

Stephan Kapranov, Jr., Forward (18 goals, 6 assists)

Frankie Brusco, Sr., Forward (5 goals, 7 assists)

Younis Kamel, Sr., Forward

Joe Kang, Jr., Midfield/Forward

David Weiner, Sr., Midfield (12 goals, 9 assists)

Jaime Palmer, Sr., Midfield (4 goals, 4 assists)

Kieran Hynes, Jr., Midfield (3 goals, 4 assists)

Luke Brand, Sr., Defense/Midfield (2 goals, 2 assists)

Luke Farrugia, So., Defense/Midfield

Tyler Gravier, Jr., Defense (2 assists)

Matt Campillay, Jr., Goalkeeper/ Tyler Siek, Sr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Joe Wang, Jr., Midfield

Chaz Petruzzi, Sr., Midfield

Dom Poli, So., Defense



Defense has been Wall’s calling card during coach Garry Linstra’s two-plus decades on the job, but it was a high-scoring, rain-soaked slugfest at Rumson-Fair Haven that proved to be the victory that clinched the Crimson Knights a three-way share of the 2022 Class A Central championship. The brothers Damiano – 2023 graduate James and current senior Nick – were the offensive catalysts throughout the season and Wall will have to forge ahead without either in 2023. Just before James graduated in June, Nick suffered a torn ACL that will keep him out of action during his senior season.

Wall’s goal-scoring operation takes a major hit with the loss of Damiano, but still returns a fair amount of production with senior midfielders Jake Petillo and Bo Pepe. Petillo was slowed by injury during his junior campaign after getting off to a fast start and Pepe played a significant role in picking up the production over the course of the season. Of Pepe’s four goals last year, three were game-winners in the 75th minute or later in huge wins for Wall: the 4-3 win at Rumson, a 1-0 win over Ocean in the SCT first round and 2-1 overtime win over South River in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals.

Senior Cooper Harmon will also be a key cog as a returning defensive center midfielder, while Senior Tristan O’Neill leads the defense in front of third-year goalkeeper Charles Schirmer. Junior Thomas Ekberg also got significant time in goal last year but an injury will cost him most – if not all – of the regular season. With the injury bug already claiming two key pieces, Wall has some early adversity to overcome. With a history to holding teams out of the goal and a pair of opportunistic midfielders leading the attack, the Crimson Knights remain a factor in A Central and Group II – injuries or not.

Wall junior Jake Petillo wins a header. (Photo: Brian McCarthy Photography)
Wall senior Jake Petillo wins a header. (Photo: Brian McCarthy Photography)

Wall at a Glance

Head Coach: Garry Linstra, 22nd season
2022 Record: 11-7-2 (5-1, tied first in Class A Central)
SCT Group: 5 (Manalapan, Brick Memorial, St. John Vianney)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group II
Key Losses: James Damiano (Forward), Matt Armenti (Defense), Chris Miller (Defense), Ryan Gotsch (Midfield), Patrick Southwell (Midfield)

Projected XI (With 2022 Stats)

Returning Starters in Bold

Colin Roarty, Sr., Forward

Jake Petillo, Sr., Midfield (4 goals, 6 assists)

Chris Dailey, Sr., Midfield

Bo Pepe, Sr., Midfield (4 goals, 4 assists)

Luke Bigley, Sr., Midfield

Michael Southwell, Jr., Midfield

Robert Keegan, Jr., Midfield

Cooper Harmon, Sr., Midfield/Defense

Tristan O’Neill, Sr., Defense

Ryan Anderson, Jr., Defense

Charles Schirmer, Sr., Goalkeeper (5 shutouts)


Other Key Players

Dylan Bilotta, Sr., Defense

Thomas Ekberg, Jr., Goalkeeper

Gavin MacCarrick, Sr., Defense

Dylan Pratola, Sr., Defense

Bill Reainhard, Sr., Defense

Rory Walker, Sr., Goalkeeper

Griffin Lecorchick, Jr., Midfield

Paul Fury, So., Defense

Tanner Griffin, So., Forward/Midfield

Christian Garduza, So., Midfield

Matt Appel, So., Midfield

Dan Mendes, So., Midfield

Kevin Anderson, Fr., Midfield

Nick Damiano, Sr., Midfield (Injured, out for season; 9 goals, 4 assists)


Rumson-Fair Haven

No team in Class A Central lost as much scoring from last year as Rumson did, with the Bulldogs looking to replace 39 of their 43 goals from 2022. Two of their top three scorers – Alec Pentikis and Antonio Santos – graduated while junior Ronon Hogg opted out of high-school soccer this season to play academy soccer. Hogg accounted for a team-high 27 points (11 goals and five assists) last season and there is no single source of scoring to replace that.

Rumson will have to alter its tactics in order to account for all the lost scoring, with coach Jeff Soares looking to best utilize the abilities of the remaining players. Liam Barnett and Declan Fry are experienced seniors who can control the middle of the field, with Charles Butters and Luke D’Angelo the top scoring options on the attack. That quartet scored just one goal last year and while it does not have to produce the 36 goals that Pentikis, Santos, Hogg and Jacob Brown did, it will have to at least meet in the middle.

The defense can make up for some of the scoring inexperience with the return of outside back Padraig Flynn, who contributed three goals and three assists out of the back. The Bulldogs will also be starting three new players on the back line as well in front of goalkeeper duo Cole Herman and Spencer Smith. Smith was tracking as a potential starter before an injury knocked him out of action, giving Herman and chance to step in and deliver. More of the onus will be on the defense and goalkeeping this season and with the championship standard Rumson has set over the last several seasons, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs find a way.


Rumson-Fair Haven at a Glance

Head Coach: Jeff Soares, fifth season
2022 Record: 11-4-2 (5-1, tied first in Class A Central)
SCT Group: 6 (Ocean, Middletown South, Lakewood, Keyport)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group II
Key Losses: Alec Pentikis (Forward), Antonio Santos (Midfield), Jacob Brown (Forward), Reece Moroney (Defense), Marco Gangemi (Defense), Jonathan Lauria (Defense), Harrison Rosen (Forward), Ronan Hogg (Jr., Midfield)

Projected XI (With 2022 Stats)

Returning Starters in Bold

Charles Butters, Jr., Forward (1 goal)

Luke D’Angelo, Jr., Midfield/Forward

Owen Saad, Sr., Midfield/Forward

Liam Barnett, Sr., Midfield

Declan Fry, Sr., Midfield

Bobby Quaglia, So., Midfield

Padraig Flynn, Sr., Defense (3 goals, 3 assists)

Zach Halpern, So., Defense

Jacob Olan, Sr., Defense

Zach Winig, So., Defense/Bobby Tamashunas, So., Defense

Cole Herman, Sr., Goalkeeper (4 shutouts)/Spencer Smith, Sr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Addison Bellincampi, Jr., Midfield

Cole DiPietro, Jr., Midfield

Hunter Barrett, So., Forward



If returning talent is the key to winning a division championship, consider Shore a serious threat to Holmdel’s defending championship. The Blue Devils return seven starters from last year’s NJSIAA Central Group I championship team and also bring back senior midfielder Maxx Eichenbaum after Eichenbaum sat out last high-school season to play academy soccer. With two prominent scorers from 2021 – Eichenbaum and Jadyn DeRosa – passing on high school soccer in 2022, Shore endured a slow start and struggled in divisional play, but rallied to make a run in both the Shore Conference Coaches Cup and NJSIAA Tournaments.

Eichenbaum returns to a team that had no trouble scoring goals in waves during the postseason, with the Blue Devils scoring 32 goals in eight tournament games. While 2023 graduate Nick DiNapoli took some of that scoring prowess with him, Shore returns plenty with sophomores Cooper Attaway and Santino Scarponi, as well as set-up specialist Stephen Molnar (10 assists). With Eichenbaum rejoining that core, the Blue Devils figure to be even tougher to defend in 2023.

Seniors Tyler Jackson and Nick Bennett return to lead the defense in front of third-year starting goalkeeper Kevin Barfield. While his team worked through the early-season struggles in starting 4-7, Barfield kept Shore in games against divisional foes Rumson-Fair Haven, Monmouth and Wall. With a more polished, developed attack from the jump, Shore should be a formidable foe for any Class A Central contender – a group in which the Blue Devils should be included.

Tom Smith |
Shore sophomore Cooper Attaway. (Photo: Tom Smith |

Shore at a Glance

Head Coach: Christian Pontier, 14th season
2022 Record: 9-10-3 (1-5, sixth in Class A Central)
SCT Group: 8 (Colts Neck, Lacey, Red Bank Catholic)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group I
Key Losses: Nick DiNapoli (Forward), Conner Katz (Midfield), Max DeOliveira (Defense)

Projected XI (With 2022 Stats)

Returning Starters in Bold

Cooper Attaway, So., Forward (13 goals, 2 assists)

Maxx Eichenbaum, Sr., Midfield (7 goals, 8 assists in 2021)

Stephen Molnar, Jr., Midfield (3 goals, 10 assists)

Santino Scarponi, So., Midfield (7 goals, 5 assists)

Lukas Villa, Jr., Midfield (2 goals, 2 assists)

Madden DeRosa, So., Midfield

Nick Bennett, Sr., Defense

Tyler Jackson, Sr., Defense (4 goals, 2 assists)

Grant Hess, Jr., Defense

Joseph Mariani, So., Defense

Kevin Barfield, Sr., Goalkeeper (4 shutouts)


Other Key Players

Sean Newbert, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 5 assists)

Joao Viera, Jr., Midfield (Transfer from Florida)

Brad Alcini, Sr., Goalkeeper

Riley Murphy, Jr., Midfield (3 goals)

Kevin Silva, Sr., Midfield

Carson Spallone, Sr., Defense

Corey Hazel, Jr., Midfield

Joey Ilvento, Jr., Midfield

Declan Drucker, So., Midfield

Bobby Gifford, So., Defense

Silvio Pessoa, Fr., Midfield

Michael Ilvento, Fr., Midfield

Jackson Motzenbecker, Fr., Defense

Andreas Barrett, Fr., Midfield



For most of the 2022 season, Monmouth labored to keep opponents out of the goal. When the games counted the most, however, the Falcons got organized and finished the season with a strong showing in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II Playoffs. The Falcons entered the tournament as a No. 14 seed and knocked off No. 3 Governor Livingston with a scoreless shutout that Monmouth won with a round of penalties. In fact, five of Monmouth’s wins (not including the shootout win over Governor Livingston) were clean sheets for graduated goalkeeper Kyle Desai.

Monmouth will have to replace not only Desai, but also standout defender Matteo Casaliunovo as part of a heavy volume of players and production lost to graduation. While there will be a considerable amount of inexperience in the lineup, the Falcons have an All-Shore midfielder in senior Anthony Cano to help ease the transition. Cano has been a center back, a defensive center midfielder and attacking midfielder during his previous three varsity seasons and can serve in whatever role the Falcons need him to in order to contend in the competitive A Central field.

Juniors Robert Sherman and Will Theobald will be key cogs on either side of the formation – Sherman up top and Theobald as a central defender. Senior Hakeem Joseph will man the midfield with Cano, while junior Tanner Simpson looks to step into a more prominent role after contributing as a sophomore. The new group of defenders has promise and junior goalkeeper Anthony Jimenez looks to continue the line of solid goalkeepers at Monmouth, but the Falcons will have their share of obstacles in climbing the ranks of Class A Central.

Monmouth Regional sophomore Anthony Cano. Photo provided by Monmouth Regional boys soccer)
Monmouth Regional senior Anthony Cano. (Photo provided by Monmouth Regional boys soccer)

Monmouth at a Glance

Head Coach: Charles Seelinger, second season
2022 Record: 7-10-2 (2-4, fifth in Class A Central)
SCT Group: 9 (Toms River South, Matawan, Henry Hudson)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group II
Key Losses: Phillip Barbosa (Forward), Matteo Casaliuovo (Defense), William Taborda (Midfield), Kyle Desai (Goalkeeper), Ian Clancey (Defense), Kyle Harczuk (Defense)

Projected XI (With 2022 Stats)

Returning Starters in Bold

Robert Sherman, Jr., Forward (2 goals, 1 assist)

Matt Porto, Sr., Forward

Anthony Cano, Sr., Midfield (10 goals, 6 assists)

Hakeem Joseph, Sr., Midfield (2 assists)

Tanner Simpson, Jr., Midfield (2 assists)

Devin Ryan, So., Midfield/Alex Bylander, So., Midfield

Will Theobald, Jr., Defense

Devon Yeboah, Sr., Defense

Luca Tvirdik, So., Defense

Ryan Brown, Sr., Defense

Anthony Jimenez, Jr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Jayden Gomez, Jr., Midfield/Defense

Evan Kelly, Jr., Midfield/Defense



Raritan was the team caught in the middle of last year’s Class A Central race. The Rockets took down Monmouth, Shore and Red Bank Catholic, but swallowed substantial losses to the three co-champions: Holmdel, Wall and Rumson. It is, however, worth noting that, while Raritan lost those games by a combined 11 goals, the Rockets were close at the half in all three games: trailing Holmdel, 1-0; tied with Wall, 0-0; and leading Rumson, 2-1.

This season, the Rockets will hope to put together 80 minutes more consistently with a team that is tasked with replacing two top scorers in Lupo Ryder and Lucas Hutnik. Senior Andrew Badalamenti returns some goal-scoring experience, while senior Liam McGinn is an all-division center back returning in front of incumbent goalkeeper Vincent Sadowski.

Throw in two senior midfielders with experience in Stefan Cojocariu and Justin Cusumano and Raritan has the core of a team that can hold the line this season and, perhaps, even climb up one spot to finish in the top three. Wall and Rumson have had more recent success upon which to fall back and Shore has more returning firepower, but all three have enough flaws that Raritan can plot a move up the standings.

Raritan at a Glance

Head Coach: Gregg Cohen, sixth season
2022 Record: 6-9-1 (3-3, fourth in Class A Central)
SCT Group: 3 (Freehold Twp., Manasquan, St. Rose)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group II
Key Losses: Lupo Ryder (Forward), Lucas Hutnik (Forward), Mike Pereira (Midfield), Jack Granite (Midfield), Dan Ryder (Defense), James Brackett (Midfield), Jason Pizzaia (Defense), Tyler Losey (Defense)

Projected XI (With 2022 Stats)

Returning Starters in Bold

Andrew Badalamenti, Sr., Forward (5 goals, 2 assists)

Sean Burnett, Jr., Forward

Stefan Cojocariu, Sr., Midfield

Elon Davis, Jr., Midfield

Justin Cusumano, Sr., Midfield

Steven Russo, So., Midfield

Liam McGinn, Sr., Defense

Travis Evernham, Jr., Defense

Devin Szoke, Sr., Defense (Transfer from Middletown North)

Carter Kelly, Jr., Defense

Vincent Sadowski, Sr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Pete Geoghan, Jr., Midfield

Joe Testai, Jr., Goalkeeper


Red Bank

Each of the six other teams in Class A Central had a measure of success last season, so Red Bank will be joining a collection of teams that is starting well ahead of where the Bucs finished a season ago. Red Bank finished in the basement of the Class B North standings and won only two games, but there were a few flashes of promise along the way. The Bucs beat Brick Memorial and Monmouth while falling, 4-3, to Rumson in a four-day span in October and also took Long Branch to overtime earlier in the season.

The talent looked more promising on paper heading into the year than it turned out be in reality, which is why the Bucs are excited at their prospects this season under the direction of new coach Dave Santos. Now at his third stop as a head coach after stints at Red Bank Catholic and Marlboro, Santos has made his mark as a hands-on assistant at CBA, which came after he led Marlboro to its only Shore Conference Tournament title during a 21-year tenure as Mustangs head coach.

Santos takes over a team that has some firepower in senior forwards Carlos Guerra and Brady Walsh, plus a pair of dependable seniors in Sean Chenery and Peter Barreca playing in front of returning goalkeepers Colin Williams and Kyle Borenius, who will split time to start the season. Up-and-comers like sophomores Jackson Whitehead and Alex Salvo in the midfield will be x-factors in Red Bank’s progress this year, but whatever happens in 2023, expect Santos’s arrival to have a major impact on the program in the years to come.

Red Bank at a Glance

Head Coach: Dave Santos, first season (28th overall)
2022 Record: 2-13 (0-7, eighth in Class B North)
SCT Group: 11 (Southern, Point Boro, Asbury Park)
NJSIAA Section: Central Group III
Key Losses: James Castell (Midfield), Mario Moza (Midfield), Joe Koetzer (Forward), Ty Tozzolino (Defense), Edward Romero (Forward)

Projected XI

Returning Starters in Bold

Carlos Guerra, Sr., Forward

Brady Walsh, Sr., Forward

Trey Cummings, Jr., Forward

Alex Salvo, So., Midfield

Jackson Whitehead, So., Midfield

Shane Victor, Sr., Midfield

Sean Chenery, Sr., Defense

Peter Barreca, Sr., Defense

Derek Navarrete, Sr., Defense

Dan Dougan, Sr., Defense

Colin Williams, Sr., Goalkeeper/Kyle Borenius, Sr., Goalkeeper


Other Key Players

Brendan O’Keefe, Sr., Defense

Jimmy Romero, Sr., Midfield

Max Ansell, Jr., Defense

Michael Chico, Jr., Midfield

Carlos Segura Trapp, So., Midfield

Luca Bonocore, Sr., Defense

Teddy Riddle, Sr., Defense

Ricky Wohler, Sr., Midfield

Alex Flores, Jr., Midfield

Quinn Gibb, Jr., Defense

Noah James, Jr., Midfield

Gavin McTighe, Jr., Midfield

Jason Monge, Jr., Midfield

Joseph Sevidio, Jr., Defense

Augustine Kowalczyk, Midfield, So.

Andres Osario, So., Midfield

Leandro Tlalpachito, So., Midfield

Brian Garcia, Fr., Forward


Class A Central Starting XI

Stephan Kapranov, Holmdel

Maxx Eichenbaum, Shore

David Weiner, Holmdel

Jake Petillo, Wall

Anthony Cano, Monmouth

Bo Pepe, Wall

Cooper Harmon, Wall

Padraig Flynn, Rumson-Fair Haven

Liam McGinn, Raritan

Tyler Gravier, Holmdel

Kevin Barfield, Shore (GK)


Class A Central Breakouts to Watch

Luke D’Angelo, Jr., Forward, Rumson-Fair Haven

Jackson Whitehead, So., Midfield, Red Bank

Luke Farrugia, So., Defense, Holmdel

Tanner Simpson, Jr., Midfield, Monmouth

Stefan Cojocairu, Sr., Midfield, Raritan

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