Boys Soccer – NJSIAA Tournament Preview: Non-Public South A and B
The 2021 season has been a dominant one for the Christian Brothers Academy boys soccer team, but all of that matters little now that the Shore's No. 1 team is about to venture into the lion's den that is the Non-Public A Playoffs. Winning the overall Non-Public A championship is always extremely difficult and the Colts have done it twice since 2016.
This year might be the toughest challenge yet for a standout Colts team, which could have to beat dangerous underdog St. John Vianney, defending South Jersey champion St. Augustine, nationally-ranked Pingry and the North Jersey champion in consecutive rounds in order to complete the dream season. If the Colts can do it, they will carve out a special place in program history as a one-loss team with Shore Conference Class A North division, Shore Conference Tournament and overall state championships.
While CBA is the Shore's prominent non-public program, it won't be the only one bidding for a title. St. Rose and Ranney both got manageable draws in the South Jersey Non-Public B bracket and could very well meet each other in the NJSIAA postseason for the second straight year with a trip to the sectional final on the line.
For a look at both the South Jersey Non-Public A and B brackets, keep on reading.
South Jersey Non-Public A
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 CBA, No. 9 St. John Vianney, No. 11 Red Bank Catholic
Defending Champion (2019): No. 4 St. Augustine
Top Seed: CBA
Favorite: No. 2 Pingry. The Big Blue are 17-0-1 and nationally ranked, although Pingry did need penalty kicks to beat Bernards – another top-five-ranked team in the state – for the Somerset County Tournament championship. Pingry has spent recent years in the North Jersey section and adding the Big Blue to the South bracket really stacks the bracket with overall Group title contenders: Pingry, CBA, St. Augustine and Notre Dame.
Darkhorse: No. 6 St. Peter’s Prep. The top four seeds in the section are all on another level, so if any team breaks into the final four other than those teams, it will be a pretty big surprise. St. Peter’s Prep probably has the best shot being a battle-tested team from North Jersey taking on a Notre Dame side that is very talented but might be beatable, as much as any of those four teams are beatable. If you are just looking for a road team that will win a game in this section, look no further than St. John Vianney in round one at Union Catholic. Other than that, expect the home teams to win up until the championship game.
Bracket Breakdown: There have been a lot of seasons in which only two teams have had a realistic shot at winning this section. While Pingry and CBA look like the big players this year, Notre Dame and St. Augustine are no slouches and even St. Joseph of Metuchen and St. Peter’s Prep are serious teams. With Pingry and St. Peter’s in the mix now, the bracket is much deeper and even St. John Vianney has been a tough opponent throughout the season. The top two seeds are likely to be left standing at the end, but the road is much tougher this season than it has been in the past.
Championship Prediction: Pingry over CBA. If CBA has to go through a nationally-ranked team, the Colts have to love that they will have their shot on their home pitch. Pingry is used to playing on grass, so that part of the formula won’t significantly favor CBA, but all of the other surroundings will be familiar for the Colts in this dream matchup. As good as Pingry is and as much as it has been expecting to be the season of the Big Blue, CBA never backs down from challenges like this and should be ready to give Pingry a serious challenge.
(9) St. John Vianney over (8) Union Catholic
(6) St. Peter’s Prep over (11) Red Bank Catholic
(7) Paul VI over (10) Camden Catholic
(1) CBA over (9) St. John Vianney
(4) St. Augustine over (5) St. Joseph Metuchen
(3) Notre Dame over (6) St. Peter’s Prep
(2) Pingry over (7) Paul VI
(1) CBA over (4) St. Augustine
(2) Pingry over (3) Notre Dame
(2) Pingry over (1) CBA
South Jersey Non-Public B
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 5 Ranney, No. 8 St. Rose
Defending Champion (2019): No. 3 Moorestown Friends
Top Seed: Calvary Christian
Favorite: No. 6 Bishop Eustace. The Crusaders are 6-9-1, so what makes them the favorite in this field? The schedule, of course. Bishope Eustace play, by far, the toughest schedule of any team in South Jersey Non-Public B. The noteworthy wins are over No. 3 Moorestown Friends, Cherry Hill West and Bishop Eustace and they also have a one-goal loss to Washington Township.
Darkhorse: St. Rose. Depending on what your expectations are, St. Rose might be an underdog or the Purple Roses might be a favorite. St. Rose has draw necessary to get to the championship game, but that No. 8 seed will mean most of the tournament will be on the road for the Purple Roses. In a lot of ways, it would be a surprise if No. 1 Calvary Christian makes it to the final.
Bracket Breakdown: This bracket is one in which the power points can be misleading. St. Rose and Bishop Eustace look like the teams that have been tested the most and are best equipped to go the distance, while high seeds like Calvary Christian, Moorestown Friends and No. 4 Doane Academy will have something to prove. Moorestown Friends does have a sectional championship run from 2019 to use as a frame of reference, but the addition of Bishop Eustace to the field and the improvement of St. Rose will make this a tougher run.
Championship Prediction: Bishop Eustace over St. Rose. St. Rose and Ranney should both make it to the sectional semifinals for a rematch of a 2-1 St. Rose win on Wednesday that gave the Purple Roses the Class B Central championship. The winner of that game might have to travel for the championship game, with Bishop Eustace, Holy Cross, Moorestown Friends and Princeton Day all in the mix. That means Ranney is the Shore’s best hope for a home game in the final and if the homefield advantage is significant, perhaps it’s Ranney that is the Shore’s best hope for a sectional title in this bracket.
(8) St. Rose over (9) Trenton Catholic
(6) Bishop Eustace over (11) Wildwood Catholic
(7) Princeton Day over (10) Gloucester Catholic
(8) St. Rose over (1) Calvary Christian
(5) Ranney over (4) Doane Academy
(6) Bishop Eustace over (3) Moorestown Friends
(2) Holy Cross Prep over (7) Princeton Day
(8) St. Rose over (5) Ranney
(6) Bishop Eustace over (2) Holy Cross Prep
(6) Bishop Eustace over (8) St. Rose