Boys Soccer – Howell, Colts Neck Make Jumps in Last Top 10 of the Regular Season
On the eve of the Shore Conference Tournament opening round, it’s time for the final installment of the Shore Sports Network Top 10 of the regular season. The No. 1 spot has remained constant and while the rest of the rankings have been a revolving door, three teams have settled into the three spots behind CBA to fill up that revolving door.
The Nos. 5 through 10 positions in the rankings remain volatile, with one team this week climbing multiple spots and two more jumping back into the rankings. From this point on, the results will weigh heavily so if the Shore Conference Tournament is as competitive as it seems poised to be, there are some teams on the other side of the Top 10 on the verge of getting in.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (11-1, 6-1) Last Week: 1
The Colts machine kept churning for another week with wins over two more solid teams: a 1-0 victory at Middletown North and a 4-0 drubbing of a quality Monroe side. After a dominant performance in last year’s Shore Conference Tournament, CBA is the favorite to win again this year.
2. Howell (10-2, 5-2) Last Week: 3
The Rebels are rolling heading into the Shore Conference Tournament after upending Middletown South and Freehold Township during the last week and seizing the No. 2 seed in this week’s Shore Conference Tournament – one of the only two seeds that will have a bye in Tuesday’s opening round.
3. Freehold Township (9-3, 4-3) Last Week: 2
The Patriots missed out on a chance to be the No. 2 seed when they lost an overtime classic to Howell on the day of the Shore Conference Tournament seeding meeting and ended up slotting at No. 4 in the field. That means in order to get to the Shore Conference Tournament final, Freehold Township will (likely) have to get through CBA in the semifinals.
4. Holmdel (10-1, 5-1) Last Week: 4
With its only loss this season coming in overtime to Rumson-Fair Haven, Holmdel has stated its case as one of the four best teams in the Shore Conference and by drawing the No. 3 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament, the Hornets will not have to get through CBA in order to get to the final. They are No. 4 in this spot due to Freehold Township’s win over Rumson and better overall schedule.
5. Marlboro (4-3-2, 3-3-0) Last Week: 5
A tie vs. Brick Memorial on Saturday puts Marlboro’s top-five spot in some jeopardy, but the Mustangs keep their spot for the time being because they have wins over the top two teams in the rankings. Marlboro will put that status on the line in the Shore Conference Tournament as the No. 6 seed, which should give the Mustangs a legitimate shot to make a run to the final for the first time in six years.
6. Colts Neck (7-2-1, 6-1-0) Last Week: 9
After wrapping up the outright Class B North championship, the Cougars are the big mover within the Top 10 this week, climbing from the last two spots into the thick of it. Since authoring shaky back-to-back performances against St. Rose (2-2 draw) and Long Branch (4-0 loss), Colts Neck has played like a legitimate SCT contender with wins over Neptune, Manasquan and Ocean, as well as a competitive, 1-0 loss to Howell. The No. 8 seed in the SCT means Colts Neck will have to go through CBA in a potential quarterfinal matchup.
7. Point Pleasant Boro (8-1-2, 6-0-1) Last Week: 6
A draw vs. Shore on Saturday makes Point Boro’s case for a top-five spot a tougher sell, but the Panthers are still in good shape heading into the postseason as the SCT’s No. 5 seed. Their only loss was a competitive 2-0 game vs. Freehold Township, which is the team Point Boro would play in the quarterfinals if the seeds hold true.
8. Rumson-Fair Haven (6-3-1, 5-1-0) Last Week: 7
A 4-3 loss to Wall in last Monday’s rain cost the Bulldogs a shot at a top-five seed in the SCT, but as a No. 7 seed, Rumson is in position to go deep if it can hit its stride over the next week. The 2-1 win over Holmdel remains the peak of Rumson’s performance this season and a trip to the quarterfinals could very well go through another top 10 team that the Bulldogs beat this year (No. 10 Middletown South).
9. Neptune (9-2-1, 4-2-1) Last Week: Not ranked
The Scarlet Fliers move back into the Top 10 thanks to a steady performance over the course of the season that includes wins over Manasquan, Middletown North and Jackson Liberty, as well as a draw vs. Long Branch. The two losses are one-goal defeats at the hands of Ocean – which came on opening day – and at Colts Neck and with the ascendance of Colts Neck, Neptune can make a move as well.
10. Middletown North (5-5, 2-4) Last Week: Not ranked
The last spot comes down to Middletown North and Long Branch and considering Middletown North has a 5-1 win over the Green Wave to its credit. The Lions have also beaten Marlboro and played Freehold Township and CBA tough in Class A North divisional play.
Toms River North (7-1-1, 5-1-1) Last Week: 8 – A loss to Jackson Memorial costs the Mariners a Top 10 spot and could wind up costing them the Class A South championship.
Middletown South (5-5-1, 4-2-1) Last Week: 10 – Howell and Manasquan cooled off the Eagles this week, but Middletown South has a chance to redeem itself as the No. 10 seed in the SCT.
Top 10 Watchlist
Long Branch (5-3-2, 4-1-2) – The Green Wave are on the cusp of a Top 10 spot and can get back in by beating St. Rose and Point Boro in back-to-back rounds of the SCT.
Wall (7-3-1, 5-1-0) – Last week’s win over Rumson-Fair Haven puts the Crimson Knights back in the conversation for the Top 10 and it also earned Wall a share of the Class A Central championship.
Jackson Liberty (7-2-2, 5-0-1) – The Lions can clinch a share of their first ever division title with one more division win over Manchester and they ride into the SCT with a chance to test themselves against Southern and, if they win, at No. 1 CBA.
Manasquan (7-4, 4-3) – The Warriors appear to be rounding into form at the right time and are lined up to face a pair of Class A North teams in the SCT: Manalapan and, if they win, No. 2 Howell.
Toms River South (6-3, 5-1) – The Indians are the only team in Class A South that can win the division outright, which they would do if they defeat Toms River East in the A South finale for both teams.