Boys Soccer – CBA, Freehold Township Stay Steady in Chaotic Shore Sports Network Top 10
By the end of the first day of the 2022 season, the Top 10 turned upside-down and through three-and-a-half weeks, it still hasn’t settled in. The two teams that have grabbed the top two spots are familiar programs and both could very well be poised to run away with the top two seeds in the Shore Conference Tournament in mid-October, but after those top two spots, it remains anybody’s game.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (7-1, 3-1) Last Week: 1
After losing on opening day to Marlboro, CBA has firmly established itself as the Shore’s best team. The Colts handled the likes of Delran, Gill St. Bernard, Howell and Chaminade in a span of 10 days and, despite some injuries around the formation, they have been able to plug in new starters and continue rolling. There are still tests against Manalapan, Freehold Township and Middletown North to clear, but at the halfway point of the season, CBA is still the team to beat.
2. Freehold Township (6-1, 3-1) Last Week: 4
Like CBA, Freehold Township has bounced back from a surprising opening-day loss by reasserting its supremacy. The Patriots now have wins over Rumson-Fair Haven, Wall, Point Pleasant Boro, Middletown North and Manalapan as part of a six-game winning streak and are again looking like a Shore Conference Tournament favorite. Division games vs. Howell, Marlboro and CBA remain, so while the resume is already impressive, the schedule is ratcheting up.
3. Ocean (4-2-1, 3-1-0) Last Week: 5
After the top two spots, the Top 10 gets really chaotic. Ocean has two losses and lost to Manasquan last week, but the Spartans hold the first-place spot in the Class B North division and own wins over Long Branch and Neptune. A loss to Manasquan and a draw vs. Brick Memorial will raise some doubts when it comes to seeding Ocean in the conference tournament, but the Spartans have lived up to expectations so far in a difficult division.
4. Marlboro (3-2-1, 3-2-0) Last Week: 9
A loss to Middletown South to open last week seemed to place Marlboro in a bit of a funk, but the Mustangs came back with a loud answer. First, they handed Howell its first loss of the season, 1-0, then battled Rumson-Fair Haven to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Add wins over CBA and Manalapan and the Mustangs are set up to have an impressive resume come postseason time.
5. Point Pleasant Boro (5-1-1, 3-0-1) Last Week: 7
Despite suffering its first loss of the season, which came after a draw against Jackson Liberty, Point Boro climbs to No. 4. The loss is to the No. 2 team in the rankings and one of the teams Point Boro beat – Rumson-Fair Haven – just beat one of the Shore’s best in Holmdel. The Panthers may have to settle for a division co-championship because of the tie with Jackson Liberty, but Point Boro has goals that go beyond Class B South and, to this point, the Panthers have shown they are up to the challenge.
6. Rumson-Fair Haven (4-2-1, 3-0-0) Last Week: Not ranked
The Bulldogs are back in the Top 10 after a spirited win at Holmdel and while the season has been a roller coaster so far, they are right where they want to be. While the losses to Freehold Township and Point Boro were anything but pretty, Rumson has responded with a good showing within the division and is set up to win Class A Central for a second straight season.
7. Holmdel (6-1, 3-1) Last Week: 2
The Hornets were a juggernaut through six games, reeling off a 6-0 record with a 27-0 goal differential. They also played a good game against Rumson on Thursday, but two defensive miscues cost Holmdel two goals, including the golden goal in overtime. The loss could cost Holmdel the Class A Central division title and it drops them a few spots in the rankings, but the Hornets remain a threat to reach multiple championship games and might still be the best-suited team to take on CBA in the Shore Conference Tournament.
8. Howell (5-2, 2-2) Last Week: 3
Back-to-back losses this past week cooled off Howell and drop the Rebels out of the top five, but there is still an avenue for Howell to win the A North public division title and get a coveted top-four spot in the Shore Conference Tournament. First, though, they will have to shake off a disappointing week in which they lost one-goal games to top-five teams CBA and Marlboro. Dating back to last season, Howell’s last nine losses are by a one-goal margin.
9. Long Branch (3-2-1, 2-1-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Class B North has been ultra-competitive: Long Branch beat Colts Neck, 4-0; Colts Neck beat Matawan 5-0; Long Branch tied Matawan, 0-0. Long Branch lost to Ocean; Manasquan beat Ocean; Long Branch beat Manasquan. Ultimately, the Green Wave have been competitive across the board, with a loss to Westfield to go with the Ocean loss.
10. Colts Neck (4-1-1, 3-1-0) Last Week: Not ranked
The Cougars make their first Top 10 appearance in 2022 after taking down Neptune on Saturday. Colts Neck’s only loss is at Long Branch and the Cougars also have a win over a Jackson Liberty side that has made an early case as the best team in Ocean County. At the start of the year, Colts Neck had some new starters and young players to work in and Saturday’s performance vs. Neptune suggest they might be turning a corner.
Neptune (5-2, 2-2) Last Week: 6 – The Scarlet Fliers still have a pretty good Top 10 case, but will have to climb back in after dropping a Saturday slate at Colts Neck.
Middletown North (4-3, 2-2) Last Week: 8 – With a win over Marlboro, the Lions have shown they are Top 10 worthy, even if they are on the periphery at the moment.
Toms River South (3-2, 3-1) Last Week: 10 – Toms River South jumped into the Top 10 last week, then dropped games this past week to Toms River North and Jackson Liberty.
Top 10 Watchlist
Jackson Liberty (5-1-2, 3-0-1) – Jackson Liberty made a statement last week by playing Point Boro to a draw, then slamming Toms River South, which gave the Lions two big results over ranked teams.
Toms River North (4-0-1, 3-0-1) – The Mariners picked up a big road win over Toms River South and will look to take a commanding lead in the division race Tuesday when they take on Toms River East.
Middletown South (3-3-1, 2-1-1) – With wins over Freehold Township and Marlboro, Middletown South has earned itself serious Top 10 consideration.
Manasquan (4-3, 2-2) – The Warriors lost a Saturday heartbreaker to Long Branch, which came after a huge win at Ocean earlier in the week. Manasquan is still in the hunt in B North, but the Saturday loss was a missed opportunity to take poll position.
Manalapan (4-3-1, 1-3-1) – So far, Manalapan has beaten the teams one might expect the Braves to beat and lost to teams in the Top 10 (Freehold Township, Howell and Marlboro). As a team coming out of A North, that’s usually a dangerous team.