Boys Soccer NJSIAA Tournament Preview: The Shore in Non-Public A and B
The NJSIAA Tournament is already underway, but the non-public programs of New Jersey had to wait an extra three days to begin their postseason push. It is an even longer wait for the non-public teams that earned first-round byes, who won't be opening up their 2022 NJSIAA Tournament until Wednesday.
Christian Brothers Academy has carried the flag for the Shore Conference in the non-public sphere, with the Colts reaching the Non-Public A final in five of the last seven years, which includes a 2020 season in which there were no state finals. CBA is again among the favorites in Non-Public A and the Colts will be playing at home through the sectional final round, so long as they remain alive in the bracket.
In Non-Public B, the Shore has had a pair of teams make some noise over the years, but no winner since 2010. Ranney is coming off a run to the South Non-Public B championship game in 2021 and St. Rose is four years removed from its last appearance in a sectional final. Neither Shore Conference Class B Central program won a championship, but with St. Rose nabbing the No. 1 seed in the section this season, this could be the year the Shore reclaims championship status in both South Jersey Non-Public sections.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 CBA, No. 8 St. John Vianney, No. 10 Donovan Catholic
Top Seed: CBA
Defending Champion: CBA
2022 Favorite: CBA. It was not an easy run by any means, but CBA finished off its second straight Shore Conference Tournament title before beginning its preparation to defend its other title in South Jersey Non-Public A. With a week-and-a-half to rest, the Colts should get healthy, which means the possible return of Will Thygeson (hamstring) for the sectional quarterfinals on Wednesday. Playing at home through the sectional finals should also give CBA an edge and while teams like Notre Dame, Pingry, St. Augustine and St. Peter’s Prep are all quality, there is not a powerhouse in the bunch to rival CBA.
Darkhorse: No. 7 Paul VI. The Eagles have played good competition throughout the year and logged some quality results in the process: wins over Cherry Hill West and Moorestown, plus a draw vs. Shawnee. No. 6 St. Joseph Metuchen and No. 5 St. Augustine will have better chances to win as road teams in the quarterfinals, but those results would not be all that surprising. Paul VI beating Notre Dame would, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, whereas CBA is likely safe against either St. John Vianney or No. 9 Union Catholic on Wednesday.
Bracket Breakdown: The blue bloods of the section – CBA, St. Augustine and Pingry – ended up sharing the same side of the bracket, which will make for an interesting semifinal. St. Augustine has not had one of its vintage sides, but a program like the one the Hermits have had over the years is always dangerous in a knockout scenario, even in “down” seasons. Pingry, meanwhile, is hoping to balance last year’s surprising semifinal loss to Notre Dame with a surprising win at CBA, but getting by St. Augustine will have to come first. On the opposite side of the field, Notre Dame looks to be the favorite, but the winner of St. Peter’s Prep and St. Joseph Metuchen will have something to say about it.
Championship Prediction: No. 1 CBA over No. 2 Notre Dame. These two teams played an unforgettable sectional final in 2021 that was high-scoring, fast-paced, physical and contentious. CBA prevailed by a score of 5-4 and that was after the Colts had given up one goal in its previous eight matches. While there are some key players from last year not back for 2022, both teams still have core pieces from 2021 back, so there is sure to be familiarity, perhaps even some bad blood from Notre Dame’s perspective. Any other championship matchup would be a surprise, but then again, Pingry was assumed to be a lock for last year’s championship game and Notre Dame spoiled the party.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 St. Rose, No. 6 Ranney
Top Seed: St. Rose
Defending Champion: No. 9 Princeton Day
2022 Favorite: St. Rose. There is no state-ranked, powerhouse team in the South Jersey end of Non-Public B, so an organized team with strong defense would figure to fair well and that’s exactly what St. Rose is. The Purple Roses also have homefield advantage and some motivation after losing a very tough, 1-0 semifinal match at Ranney last season.
Darkhorse: No. 12 Moorestown Friends. With some recent success in the state tournament to its name, Moorestown Friends is a team worth keeping an eye on in the early rounds of the tournament. Its regular-schedule is mostly teams from Pennsylvania so there is an air of mystery surrounding Moorestown Friends every year.
Bracket Breakdown: Much like Central Jersey Group I, there is no team that jumps out as championship caliber and that could lead to some upsets along the way. No. 2 Doane Academy is another team with a schedule that makes the team’s overall level somewhat ambiguous, so a more mainstream, battle-tested Bishop Eustace figures to be second on the list of contenders as the No. 3 seed. Ranney is the other Shore Conference team in the field and while the Panthers got great playoff experience in reaching the sectional final last year, this year’s team is entirely different. Defending champion Princeton Day is the No. 9 seed and could very well be St. Rose’s toughest competition on the way to a title.
Championship Prediction: No. 1 St. Rose over No. 3 Bishop Eustace. St. Rose has not been to a Non-Public B championship game since winning it all in 2010 and has been to just one sectional final since, which came as a No. 8 seed in 2018. This might be the most capable St. Rose team since that 2010 side simply going by its success outside of Class B Central and that figures to bode well for the Purple Roses against a field of teams that are not quite as battle-tested.