Boys Soccer – Jeep Store Top 10, Nov. 2
For the first month of the 2020 boys soccer season, the top seven teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 remained untouched. Five of the seven remained unbeaten heading into the last week of games and the losses suffered by the other two were all to teams ranked in the top five.
That finally changed last week when Southern became the first team in that select group to slip up when the Rams lost at Brick, 3-2. With that loss, the top-half of the Top 10 gets its shakeup of the season that includes a new team entering the top five, while the bottom half welcomes one new team into the fold.
There remain two weeks left in the regular season and it is already clear that not every team will complete a full divisional schedule due to prior cancelations and a lack of available dates to make up those games. With COVID-19 cases climbing in N.J. and around the country, there is some concern among administrators and coaches the school year – and in turn the fall sports season – could be halted sometime before the Nov. 22 end date. If, however, the games get played over the next two weeks, a lot of questions regarding the Top 10 will finally be answered and an NJSIAA Tournament – which is due to be seeded this week – would hopefully answer a few more.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (7-0, 6-0) Last Week: 1
The Colts only got one game in this week and have only four more games scheduled for the remainder of the regular season, which means their final divisional record will have only 10 games. No division championships will officially be awarded this season anyway but it will be hard to definitively call CBA the best team in this year’s A North if they have played three or four fewer games than the teams closest to them. With that said, Freehold Township and Long Branch are those two primary challengers and CBA handled all three. With four more A North wins, the Colts will have made a strong case to be No. 1 in 2020, regardless of what happens with the postseason.
2. Toms River North (10-0, 10-0) Last Week: 3
While Southern started the season ranked No. 2 in the SSN Top 10, Toms River North put the pressure on the Rams from the very beginning of the season by not only keeping pace in the win-loss column but by dominating its opponents. With Southern blinking first in the form of a 3-2 loss at Brick last week, Toms River North takes over as Ocean County’s top team after hammering Brick Memorial twice. The Mariners will now have to deal with an upstart Brick side this coming week and with Southern playing last-place Central during their week, the pressure will be on Toms River North to hold serve and maintain the one-game lead heading into the final week, when the top two teams in A South are scheduled to meet.
3. Freehold Township (6-3, 6-3) Last Week: 4
The Patriots handled their business last week by beating Middletown South on the road and are looking at a three-game schedule next week, with Middletown South and Howell on tap. The unofficial A North title looks like it won’t be a possibility for the defending A North champions and there is no Shore Conference Tournament title to defend either, so the Patriots are holding out hope they will be able to chase some version of an NJSIAA championship.
4. Long Branch (7-2, 7-2) Last Week: 5
With only one game vs. CBA and Freehold Township playing the first-place Colts twice, it would be hard for Long Branch to claim A North public-school supremacy over Freehold Township without the Patriots losing another game. The Green Wave would also have to go 4-0 the rest of the way with two games against Manalapan – which has not played in two weeks – and Middletown North. With only losses to Freehold Township and CBA on the resume, the Green Wave is still top-five worthy.
5. Colts Neck (10-0, 10-0) Last Week: 6
For the first time this season, there is a new team in the top five of the SSN Top 10. With Southern losing to Brick on Wednesday and opening up a new spot, it was not exactly a difficult decision as to how to fill it. Colts Neck has been the Shore’s most dominant team to date – partially because the schedule has been favorable but also because the Cougars are explosive. This past week, they played a Matawan team that came into the week at 5-3 and completely dismantled the Huskies by outscoring them 14-2 in the two meetings. Following the wins over the fourth-place team in B North, Colts Neck will play the third-place two this week with two vs. Manasquan as the Cougars gear up for a final-week showdown with B North co-leader Wall.
6. Wall (10-0, 10-0) Last Week: 7
Wall has not been as dominant as Colts Neck – the Crimson Knights and the Cougars have each allowed only four goals so far, but Colts Neck as scored 20 more goals than Wall has. Still, Wall is in great position to take on the Cougars, win the unofficial B North title and lay claim to a spot in the top-five, perhaps even the top three. Matawan is coming off two humbling losses to Colts Neck and will try to recover some of their pride by giving Wall a hard time this week.
7. Holmdel (8-0-1, 7-0-1) Last Week: 8
The Hornets are playing without standout goalkeeper Tommy Chyzowych, but have still maintained their unbeaten streak, which stands at 63 heading into Monday’s unbeaten showdown vs. Raritan. Two weeks ago, Holmdel beat then-unbeaten Ocean and tied the Spartans in the second meeting before picking up a pair of wins against Red Bank Catholic this past week. With 2-8 Shore on tap for the last week of the regular season, Holmdel could win the unofficial Class A Central division title this week and set itself up to enter the postseason with its long streak still intact.
8. Southern (9-1, 9-1) Last Week: 2
Southern became the third SSN-ranked team to lose to an unranked team this season and the first team ranked in the top eight to lose to an unranked team. With the 3-2 loss at Brick, the Rams drop down to No. 8 and will have to get straightened out this week vs. Central before taking on undefeated Toms River North in the regular season’s final week. On the bright side, Southern also beat Brick last week, which is its strongest win of the season so far.
9. Raritan (7-0-1, 7-0-1) Last Week: 10
If Raritan could have finished off a win over Ocean on Saturday, the Rockets would have had a compelling case to be the No. 7 team this week, so settling for the draw costs them a couple spots for the time being. That can change quickly this week, as Raritan represents Holmdel’s toughest 2020 challenge yet in extending its 60-plus game unbeaten streak. This past week started with a 4-1 drubbing of Ocean so Raritan is comfortably in the Top 10 with two weeks left in the regular season.
10. Brick (7-3, 7-3) Last Week: Not ranked
The Green Dragons are the Top 10’s newest member and have not been part of a Top 10 conversation in a good decade or so. In that sense, Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Southern is the program’s biggest result in the same amount of time and it came as a result of goals by its three senior leaders on the attack: Sean Palmer, Zack Meyer and Eli Chong. Brick will not get a chance to rest on its laurels this week, as the Green Dragons will now turn their attention toward trying to hand Toms River North its first loss – just as Brick did to Southern.
Ocean (5-2-2, 4-2-2) Last Week: 9 – The Spartans showed resilience in coming back to tie Raritan on Saturday after getting beat by the Rockets, 4-1, earlier in the week and then falling behind in the weekend matchup. A strong finish to the season vs. Rumson and RBC would keep Ocean in the picture.
Top 10 Watchlist
Pinelands (7-0-1, 7-0-1) – Manchester’s win over Middletown North strengthens the case for the team leading the Class B South division, which is undefeated Pinelands. The Wildcats return to action against Manchester after an impromptu week off.
Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3-1, 4-2-1) – Rumson’s losses remain against Holmdel and CBA and the Bulldogs will get a chance to improve their profile with series vs. Ocean and Raritan to close the regular season.
Lacey (7-2-1, 7-2-1) – Lacey missed its best chance to crack the top 10 when it lost two heartbreakers to Pinelands but the Lions deserve a tip of the cap for how they have played since tying Lakewood on opening day.
St. Rose (7-1, 6-0) – It’s about time to take a look at the contenders in B Central and St. Rose has been the most dominant team in the field with a 46-9 goal-differential, which includes a 5-1 loss to St. Peter’s Prep.
Ranney (7-0, 7-0) – While St. Rose has been the most convincing of the B Central teams, Ranney is the only one that is still undefeated. The Panthers have been pretty sharp as well, with a 34 goals scored against only seven allowed. Ranney and St. Rose are set to meet twice this week with first place in the division on the line.