2023 Shore Conference Tournament Championship

Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023

At Memorial Field, Summerfield Elementary School, Neptune

No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy vs. No. 2 Howell, 3 p.m.

Christian Brothers Academy (14-2-1, 5-1 in Class A North)

Head Coach: Tom Mulligan
SCT Championships: 12 (1984, 1985, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2021, 2022)
SCT Final Appearances: 14 (1984, 1985, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2018, 2016, 2021, 2022)
Road to the Final: Won SCT Group 1; defeated No. 16 Jackson Memorial, 2-1; defeated No. 8 Marlboro, 2-1 (OT); defeated No. 12 Middletown North, 1-0.

Projected Starters (With 2023 Stats)

Dylan Millevoi, Sr., Forward (13 goals, 3 assists)

Brayden Perry, Jr., Forward/Winger (5 goals, 2 assists)

John Gambale, Sr., Midfield/Winger (3 goals, 7 assists)

Cameron D’Alterio, Sr., Midfield/Forward (1 goal)

Phil Bodenski, Sr., Midfield (1 goal)

Lawrence Mancino, Sr., Midfield (5 goals, 5 assists)

Dan Dinnell, Sr., Outside Fullback (1 goal, 3 assists)

Christian DeOliveira, Sr., Center Fullback (6 goals)

Conor Mellor, Sr., Center Fullback (1 assist)

Sean Galvin, Sr., Outside Fullback (1 goal, 1 assist)

Miles Gallagher, Sr., Goalkeeper (0.71 goals allowed per game, 7 shutouts)

CBA senior Dylan Millevoi scored the game-winning goal at Marlboro in the 78th minute. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
CBA senior Dylan Millevoi. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

Howell (10-1-2, 4-1-1 in Class A North)

Head Coach: Rich Yuro
SCT Championships: 1 (2007)
SCT Final Appearances: 2 (2007, 2022)
Road to the Final: Won SCT Group 2; defeated No. 15 Manasquan, 4-2; defeated No. 7 Ocean, 4-1; defeated No. 3 Toms River North, 2-1.

Projected Starters (With 2023 Stats)

Nick Turturro, Jr., Forward (11 goals, 5 assists)

Bryce Ocholla, Sr., Winger (3 goals, 2 assists)

Kam Brown, Jr., Winger (2 goals, 1 assist)

Marcello Romano, Sr., Midfield (2 assists)

Tye Maser, Jr., Midfield (7 goals, 4 assists)

John Fiorillo, Jr., Midfield (2 assists)

Aiden Pacheco, Sr., Outside Fullback

Brent Romano, Sr., Center Fullback (1 goal, 2 assists)

Tyler Borenstein, Jr., Center Fullback (2 goals, 5 assists)

Max Rocco, Jr., Outside Fullback

Patrick Martin, Sr., Goalkeeper (1.0 goal allowed per game; 3 shutouts)

Howell junior Nick Turturro. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Howell junior Nick Turturro. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

For the second straight season, CBA and Howell are the last two teams standing in the Shore Conference Tournament – both times and the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds. CBA won last year’s game, 2-1, with two goals in the second half by players who will be on the field Saturday afternoon: Cameron D’Alterio and Lawrence Mancino.

D’Alterio has come off the bench for most of this year, but just as he did last year, he has stepped into the starting XI after CBA lost a starter to injury. Last year, it was Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Will Thygeson who missed most of the SCT and this year, it is Dimitry Corba who is recovering from a knee injury suffered in his team’s quarterfinal win over Marlboro.

Mancino, meanwhile, has not only been a part of CBA’s lineup all season, but has been one of the state’s best all-around talents. With Corba on the field, Mancino plays more of a holding midfield, but the senior has looked to attack more as the season as progressed, especially in light of the injury to Corba. Last year, Mancino was an All-Shore defender.

CBA senior Lawrence Mancino. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
CBA senior Lawrence Mancino. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

Although the goals did not come until the second half, the Colts never trailed in last year’s game, conceding only in the final minutes on a goal by now-graduated R.J. Eckelman. Howell got standout performances from its talented group from the Class of 2025 in the 2022 semifinals, but they were mostly silenced by CBA in the championship game.

This year, Howell’s roster has played its best during this tournament and will be confident heading into Saturday after playing CBA tough during the regular season in a 2-1 win by the Colts. Rebels leading scorer Nick Turturro scored in the final minute of the second half back on Sept. 13 to put CBA in a 1-0 hole heading into the second half, but the Colts fired back with second-half goals by junior Brayden Perry and Corba, with Mancino assisting the goal by Corba.

Howell has done a lot of its damage this season attacking the flanks, much like CBA did last year with Thygeson and Jack D’Eletto. Turturro draws attention from the entire defense, which gives senior Bryce Ocholla and junior Kam Brown a chance work outside with their speed. CBA’s defense has been up the task all season and is coming off its first shutout of the SCT. Seniors Dan Dinnell and Sean Galvin will be key for the Colts on the outside of the back line and, if anything, Brown, Ocholla and Turturro will need to keep the pressure on in order to take CBA’s defenders of the offensive equation. Dinnell and Galvin are both capable of pushing forward and playing dangerous balls into the box: Galvin assisted fellow defender Christian DeOliveira’s game-winner Wednesday against Middletown North and Dinnell assisted Dylan Millevoi’s golden goal in the quarterfinals vs. Marlboro.

Howell senior Bryce Ocholla. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Howell senior Bryce Ocholla. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

The midfield is typically where CBA separates itself and even without Corba, Mancino and senior Phil Bodenski are smooth operators who are also tough when it comes to winning balls and withstanding opponents’ attempts to be physical. Senior John Gambale, Perry and D’Alterio can also mix it up in the midfield if CBA uses them there.

Howell’s midfield will have a tall task, but senior Marcello Romano and junior Tye Maser have the skill and toughness to make CBA battle in the middle. The x-factor could be junior John Fiorillo, whom coach Rich Yuro identified as a player who has taken a significant step forward from the start of the season to tournament time. Fiorillo scored a big goal in last year’s SCT semifinal vs. Holmdel and while he has not done much scoring this season, his recent increase in work rate and activity, according to Yuro, has coincided with Howell becoming more dangerous on the attack.

Howell junior Tye Maser. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Howell junior Tye Maser. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

For the Rebels to knock off the Colts, they will need the back line to stay organized against Millevoi, Perry and Gambale while also keeping an eye out for Mancino and DeOliveira getting forward. Brent Romano is the senior leader of the group and the only starter back from last year’s defensive group. Senior Aiden Pacheco and junior Max Rocco have been solid on the outside and junior Tyler Borenstein has been the breakout performer on the back line for the Rebels. Borenstein is also Howell’s best threat taking corner kicks and serving free kicks into the box.

While most of the game will be played between the 10 players on each side, the goalkeepers will certainly come into play in a game like this. Howell senior Patrick Martin has grown into the job after taking over for four-year starter Charlie Scanlon, who was an equalizer for Howell against CBA last year. Miles Gallagher, meanwhile, is a seasoned keeper on the other end of the field and fits the description of a typical CBA goalkeeper: very good, but you don’t get to see him show it often because of how much the rest of the team protects the goal.

CBA senior Christian DeOliveira celebrates his goal with junior Brayden Perry on his right. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
CBA senior Christian DeOliveira celebrates his goal with junior Brayden Perry on his right. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

The Verdict

During its illustrious history, CBA is 11-2-1 in Shore Conference Tournament championship games and since 2015, the Colts are 21-1-3 in the SCT. The only times the Colts have been eliminated during that time have been two shootout losses and an overtime loss to Ocean in the 2018 championship game. CBA is built for these games and it takes a special performance and some good fortune to deny the Colts the Shore Conference Tournament championship.

Howell is in the midst of a special run that should extend into next season, when its talented core of juniors will be seniors. As senior-heavy as CBA is and as junior-reliant as Howell is, the Rebels might be a year away from breaking through for their first conference tournament championship since 2007. The fact that Howell has made it this far, however, suggests this year’s group is not satisfied with just building toward 2024 – particularly with Brent and Marcello Romano, Ocholla, Pacheco and Martin playing key roles as seniors.

It won’t be easy to deny either of these teams the championship. CBA is aiming to become just the second team to win three championships in a row, joining the 1988-92 Jackson Memorial dynasty that won five straight. Howell's players, meanwhile, would like to join the revered 2007 team as teams to bring home an SCT championship. With the Howell girls soccer team also playing for the title on Saturday, Howell could become the first pair of boys and girls teams to win the title in the same season.

That is a lot on the line for both sides, but when it comes to hard-fought battles with a trophy on the line, don’t pick against CBA. Take it from someone who has tried.

The Pick: CBA, 1-0

Semifinal Picks Record: 0-2

2023 SCT Picks Record: 15-5

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