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The 2023 season is only 11 days old, but by the end of this week, we will have passed the halfway point between opening day and the Shore Conference Tournament. To this point, there have not been any earth-shattering results that turned the rankings upside down, but with so many games to get in over the next three weeks, things can change quickly.

The top 10 gets a bit of a shuffle, but the same 10 teams occupy those spots heading into Week 3. For the second straight week, one new team enters the rankings, which means one team dropped out. With two days of divisional games this week, this could be the last week of stability in the Shore 16 for the remainder of the season.

1. Christian Brothers Academy (3-1, 2-0) Last Week: 1

CBA’s first loss in 20 games came in Pennsylvania to LaSalle Prep and at one point on Sunday, it looked like Pennsylvania would again be a rude host. The Colts, however, got in gear against Delran and overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the Bears, 3-2. Earlier in the week, CBA grabbed control in the Class A North race with a victory over Howell.

2. Holmdel (3-0, 2-0) Last Week: 2

The Hornets have conceded four goals in three games without a shutout while breaking in a new defense, but with 16 goals in those three matches, the attack has not missed a beat. Holmdel will restart its game vs. Howell in a battle of the top-ranked teams in Group 2 of the Shore Conference Tournament.

3. Toms River North (4-0, 2-0) Last Week: 3

The Mariners have dominated all four games they have played thus far and are prepared for a schedule that rachets up this week. Toms River North will host Southern and Jackson Memorial this week with a chance to grab a stranglehold in the Class A South race – something the Mariners have gotten used to over the past three seasons.

4. Howell (1-1, 1-1) Last Week: 5

Howell’s first two outings this season ended before the 80th minute due to lightening delays and the second of those two – a Shore Conference Tournament group-play game – did not make it to halftime. The Rebels finally completed a game last week and while it could have gone better for Howell, a 2-1 loss at CBA in which Howell led at halftime was a effort befitting a top-five team.

5. Manalapan (2-1, 1-1) Last Week: 6

Unlike Howell, Manalapan did not benefit from a shortened game to open the season in losing to the No. 4 Rebels, but the Braves have since bounced back. They hammered Wall in SCT group play and took down a ranked Middletown South side with a sterling defensive effort, which buoyed a 1-0 win.

6. Colts Neck (2-0, 1-0) Last Week: 7

While Manalapan was doing it with defense, Colts Neck was relentlessly scoring. The Cougars posted three goals in their opener, then went off for six and needed every one of them in a 6-5 win over Ocean. Kyle Moore is off to a scorching start with seven of Colts Neck’s nine goals to open the season.

7. Manasquan (3-0, 1-0) Last Week: 8

After dominating the scoreboard vs. Neptune and Freehold Township to start the season, Manasquan was tested for the first time this season against Raritan in SCT group play. After falling behind in the first half, Manasquan drew even early in the second and won it on a Lukas Farkas corner kick in overtime. The Warriors are staring down a huge week with a division game at Ocean, followed by interdivisional games against Shore and Holmdel.

8. Middletown North (2-1, 1-0) Last Week: 10

After opening the season down three starters and losing at Toms River North, Middletown North bounced back by beating Marlboro for a huge divisional win this past week. With a 5-1 win over Donovan Catholic over the weekend, the Lions got back on track in SCT group play and can clinch a spot in the knockout round of the tournament by beating or tying Point Beach in their final group-play match.

9. Marlboro (1-2-1, 0-2-0) Last Week: 4

It has been a slow start for a Mustangs team that entered the season with lofty expectations and the problem has been scoring goals. Marlboro went scoreless over its first three games and although one of them was a lightning-shortened 0-0 draw vs. Toms River East, it still amounted to more than 200 scoreless minutes to start the year. The Mustangs broke the seal in a 4-1 win over Freehold Boro that puts them back on solid ground for a SCT knockout-round berth.

10. Middletown South (3-1, 1-1) Last Week: 9

The Eagles dropped a game at Manalapan and drop a spot in the rankings, but still remain a top 10 team for the moment. The Eagles have only one Class A North divisional game this week, but it is a big one: a trip to No. 4 Howell on Tuesday.

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11. Southern (2-0-2, 1-0-1) Last Week: 11 – Southern is 2-0 on turf with 11 goals scored and 0-0-2 with one goal in 200 minutes on its home grass pitch.

12. Ocean (2-1-1, 1-1-0) Last Week: 12 – This past week, the Spartans scored five goals against a top 10 team (Colts Neck) on the road…and lost.

13. Central (4-0, 2-0) Last Week: Not ranked – The Golden Eagles crash the rankings behind a 4-0 start to the season, powered by a solid group of seniors. The new ranking will be put to the test this week against Toms River South and Howell.

14. Freehold Township (2-2, 0-1) Last Week: 13 – The Patriots have played two games vs. unranked teams (Point Boro and Wall) and won both, which keeps them squarely in the top 16 for the time being.

15. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-1-1, 2-0-0) Last Week: 14 – Charlie Butters has been the Shore’s big breakout scorer and he came through with his biggest strike yet when he delivered the golden goal Thursday vs. Shore.

16. Long Branch (2-2-1, 0-1-0) Last Week: 16 – It was a less-than-ideal start to the season for Long Branch, but the Green Wave have posted three straight shutouts and already clinched a spot in the SCT knockout round with group-stage wins over Jackson Memorial and Ranney.


Dropped Out

Shore (2-2, 1-1) Last Week: 15 – After beating Wall in overtime to open the season, Shore has two tough-to-swallow losses to Middlesex and Rumson.

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