Boys Soccer – NJSIAA Central East Tournament Preview: Non-Public
(9) St. John Vianney at (8) Wardlaw-Hartridge, winner at (1) CBA
(5) St. Joseph Metuchen at (4) Calvary Christian
(6) Donovan Catholic at (3) St. Rose
(10) Mater Dei Prep at (7) Timothy Christian, winner at (2) Ranney
If not for a surprising scoreless tie vs. winless Manalapan during this week, it would be hard to picture how CBA could lose a game in this section. The Colts have mowed down a host of quality teams throughout the season: Holmdel, Freehold Township, Long Branch, Rumson-Fair Haven, among others. Perhaps they are more vulnerable than those wins suggested, but they remain the heavy favorite regardless.
Darkhorse: Donovan Catholic
Depending on what you consider to be a darkhorse, you could consider any team not named CBA a sleeper in this bracket. In that case, St. Rose and Ranney could be interesting teams – particularly with some of Ranney’s unique talent. St. Joseph Metuchen is also a team to watch as a perennial contender in Middlesex County.
Donovan Catholic, however, best fits the sleeper/darkhorse distinction: The Griffins will be on the road in the first round, have a losing record (2-6-3) and haven’t made much postseason noise in recent years. On the flip side, they have been close in all but one of their games this season, with a 4-0 loss to Pinelands the only exception. St. Rose is more likely than not to survive in the first round vs. Donovan Catholic, but the Griffins have a great shot to win two games given the teams on their side of the bracket are relatively untested.
(9) St. John Vianney over (8) Wardlaw-Hartridge
(7) Timothy Christian over (10) Mater Dei Prep
The record doesn’t necessarily show it, but St. John Vianney is an improved team from a year ago and the Lancers should be able to pick up something tangible in showing that by winning a state tournament game. Mater Dei, meanwhile, will have more than a fighting chance against a Timothy Christian side that is giving up goals at an alarming 4.3 per-game clip.
(1) CBA over (9) St. John Vianney
(5) St. Joseph Metuchen over (4) Calvary Christian
(3) St. Rose over (6) Donovan Catholic
(2) Ranney over (7) Timothy Christian
The St. Rose-Donovan Catholic game will be the most competitive of the four quarterfinals, in all likelihood. The Purple Roses have been a bit sharper this season but did not get a chance to test themselves against Ranney because of Ranney’s campus shutdown last week. St. Rose still got games in vs. St. Peter’s Prep (5-1 loss) and St. Joseph Metuchen (1-0 loss) so the Roses should be ready.
(1) CBA over (5) St. Joseph Metuchen
(2) Ranney over (3) St. Rose
CBA and St. Joe’s have played some fierce rivalry games over the past quarter-century, although CBA has been a tier above the Falcons on the soccer pitch in recent years. Still, this semifinal between the two Non-Public A rivals is likely to be the marquee game of the bracket, with the 6-2-1 Falcons entering with a puncher’s chance to take out CBA.
On the bottom half of the bracket, St. Rose and Ranney should finally meet after their two regular-season meetings were canceled due to Ranney’s two-week campus closure. Ranney boasts some unique challenges that gave St. Rose problems last year and, at least on the attack, Ranney looks very similar this year. St. Rose will have the edge if it can execute a defensive-minded gameplan while also cashing in on some chances against a Ranney defense that has given up some goals this year.
(1) CBA over (2) Ranney
Maybe CBA will get caught napping or perhaps even be somewhat unmotivated against a field that doesn’t offer the caliber of opponent the Colts are used to playing, but without that sort of letdown, CBA will win this section. The Colts are at least one level above every other team and the only team likely to stop CBA from winning will be CBA itself.