Boys Soccer – NJSIAA Tournament Preview: North and South Jersey
North Jersey Section 2, Group III
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 8 Middletown North
Defending Champion: Hopewell Valley
Top Seed: Mendham
Sleeper Team: No. 13 Chatham. The Cougars play a challenging regular-season schedule that includes a pair of games against Delbarton, the No. 1 team in the state, according to NJ.com. First-round opponent Summit is not the most vulnerable team among the top six or seven seeds, but Chatham has some staying power if it can reach its peak level. Middletown North – losers of eight of its last nine games –could be an option if the Lions regain their early-season form, which helped them hand Westfield its only loss of the season.
Prediction: No. 2 Hopewell Valley over Mendham. Hopewell will try to bounce back from a loss to West Windsor-Plainsboro South in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals and defend their sectional title against a Mendham team that is back among the top teams in Group III after winning the whole section two years ago. These two teams met in a classic sectional final two years ago and the Hopewell players around for that one would like some revenge.
Round by Round Predictions
(1) Mendham over (16) Snyder
(8) Middletown North over (9) Orange
(5) Cranford over (12) Rahway
(13) Chatham over (4) Summit
(3) Somerville over (14) Nutley
(11) Ferris over (6) Irvington
(10) West Windsor-Plainsboro North over (7) Belleville
(2) Hopewell Valley over (15) West Morris
(1) Mendham over (8) Middletown North
(13) Chatham over (5) Cranford
(3) Somerville over (11) Ferris
(2) Hopewell Valley over (10) West Windsor-Plainsboro North
(1) Mendham over (13) Chatham
(2) Hopewell Valley over (3) Somerville
(2) Hopewell Valley over (1) Mendham
South Jersey Group IV
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 Jackson Memorial, No. 9 Brick Memorial, No. 10 Howell, No. 11 Southern, No. 13 Toms River North
Defending Champion: Washington Twp.
Top Seed: Jackson Memorial
Favorite: No. 2 Washington Twp.
Sleeper Team: Toms River North. The Mariners are always a tough out in the state tournament and will have to be on top of their game to get by Rancocas Valley in the first round. They have the capacity to do it, though, and if Toms River North can win that game, they are capable of getting to the championship game consider the Mariners already have a win over Jackson Memorial this year. Southern is another team to watch at No. 11, especially if the bar is winning one game. Howell and Brick Memorial are both dangerous road teams in round one, but would have their hands full in the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Washington Twp. over Jackson Memorial. The Jaguars have had a great season, but still might be a year away. If they can lay the foundation for a sectional championship next year, that would make this year a great success. Then again, as the No. 1 seed in one of the toughest sections in the state on a year-to-year basis, maybe it’s more appropriate for the team to be thinking about a dynasty. In order to start one, the Jaguars will likely have to go through the team that is currently the dynasty in South Jersey – a Washington squad that has won the last three sectional titles.
(1) Jackson Memorial over (16) Atlantic Tech
(8) Atlantic City over (9) Brick Memorial
(5) Kingsway over (12) Millville
(13) Toms River North over (4) Rancocas Valley
(3) Shawnee over (14) Cherokee
(11) Southern over (6) Williamstown
(7) Eastern over (10) Howell
(2) Washington Twp. over (15) Lenape
(1) Jackson Memorial over (8) Atlantic City
(13) Toms River North over (5) Kingsway
(3) Shawnee over (11) Southern
(2) Washington Twp. over (7) Eastern
(1) Jackson Memorial over (13) Toms River North
(2) Washington Twp over (3) Shawnee
(2) Washington Twp. over (1) Jackson Memorial
South Jersey Group III
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 Pinelands, No. 9 Lacey
Defending Champion: Mainland
Top Seed: Ocean City
Favorite: No. 2 Mainland
Sleeper Team: No. 12 Timber Creek. This bracket appears as though it will stay true to form with respect to the seeds, but Timber Creek or No. 11 Winslow could win a game or two to make things interesting. No. 10 Cherry Hill West might be the favorite against No. 7 Triton and has the pedigree to challenge Mainland in a potential quarterfinal showdown. Timber Creek has a better chance to win two games, but Cherry Hill West might be the team that could surprise by winning the whole thing. Lacey would also be interesting heading to Ocean City for a quarterfinal game and wins over Freehold Boro and Middletown North this week have the Lions tuned up to take on anyone.
Prediction: Mainland over Ocean City. A few weeks ago, Pinelands was in the conversation with Mainland and Ocean City as the favorites in this bracket and while the Wildcats are still a viable contender, they are probably a rung below the top two seeds after shaky performances against Jackson Memorial, Brick and Toms River North. The down time could have done Pinelands some good, though, and perhaps the Wildcats will bounce back to the form they showed over the first month of the season.
(1) Ocean City over (16) Bridgeton
(9) Lacey over (8) Seneca
(12) Timber Creek over (5) Delsea
(4) Hammonton over (13) Cumberland
(3) Pinelands over (14) Gloucester Tech
(11) Winslow over (6) Absegami
(10) Cherry Hill West over (7) Triton
(2) Mainland over (15) Deptford
1 Ocean City over (9) Lacey
(12) Timber Creek over (4) Hammonton
(3) Pinelands over (11) Winslow
(2) Mainland over (10) Cherry Hill West
1 Ocean City over (12) Timber Creek
(2) Mainland over (3) Pinelands
(2) Mainland over (1) Ocean City
South Jersey Group II
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 5 Point Boro, No. 11 Barnegat, No. 12 Manasquan, No. 16 Manchester
Defending Champion: Delran
Top Seed: Delran
Sleeper Team: Barnegat. It’s hard to see any team running with Delran or Haddonfield in this bracket, but there could be an early-round surprise or two. Barnegat has been a hard team to pin down this year, but the Bengals have two major scoring threats in Ryan Flaherty and Ricky Norman and a pretty manageable draw. Cinnaminson is a perennially solid program and West Deptford is a capable No. 3 seed that will likely await the Bengals in the quarterfinals should they get by the Pirates. If Barnegat is not the double-digit seed to win two games in this bracket, the next best possibility might be Manasquan, which has rallied to .500 over the last three weeks. Point Boro has had problems scoring at times this year, and Manasquan’s young roster might have the firepower to put two in the back of the net and move on to a winnable sectional quarterfinal.
Prediction: Delran over Haddonfield. This game is almost a lock to happen and Delran has been preparing for this run with a loaded schedule. A clash between the Bears and Holmdel in the Group II semifinal looks like one of the best potential match-ups in the entire state tournament, and although Haddonfield will be a worthy opponent, Delran should live up to its end of the bargain.
(1) Delran over (16) Manchester
(8) Oakcrest over (9) Middle Twp.
(5) Point Boro over (12) Manasquan
(4) Sterling over (13) Pleasantville
(3) West Deptford over (14) Cedar Creek
(11) Barnegat over (6) Cinnaminson
(7) Bordentown over (10) Collingswood
(2) Haddonfield over (15) Lower Cape May
1 Delran over (8) Oakcrest
(5) Point Boro over (4) Sterling
(3) West Deptford over (11) Barnegat
(2) Haddonfield over (7) Bordentown
1 Delran over (5) Point Boro
(2) Haddonfield over (3) West Deptford
1 Delran over (2) Haddonfield