Boys Soccer – NJSIAA Tournament Preview: The Shore Non-Publics
Last year marked the first time since 2009 that the Shore Conference had a team in both the Non-Public A and Non-Public B state finals and whenever that happens, it tends to be Christian Brothers Academy in A and St. Rose in B.
For all their history of state-tournament success, however, the two programs have never won an overall state title in the same season. Only one time has the Shore Conference ever had the winner of Non-Public A and Non-Public B in the same year and it was St. Rose (Non-Public A) and Mater Dei (Non-Public B) in 1981.
The challenge remains difficult for both in 2023. CBA will likely have to beat two other teams ranked in the state top 20 just to make it to the state final, where a top-five team in the state is likely to be waiting. St. Rose, meanwhile, is well set-up to win its section, but winning the state title will likely mean having to overcome Gill St. Bernard's -- winner of the last four Non-Public B titles and another state-ranked side -- in the championship game.
The rest of the Shore teams in the two South Jersey Non-Public sections have a chance to win a game, perhaps even two in the case of Ranney. Ultimately, though, if the Shore Conference is going to bring home any non-public hardware, it will be either CBA or St. Rose.
South Jersey Non-Public A
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy, No. 7 St. John Vianney, No. 10 Donovan Catholic
Top Seed: CBA
Defending Champion: CBA
Favorite: CBA. There is a case to be made for No. 3 Pingry as the favorite to win the 2023 championship, but given CBA’s status as a defending champion with a 15-2-1 record heading into the tournament, the Colts deserve the label until somebody beats them.
Darkhorse: No. 5 Paul VI. The top four seeds in the section are ranked among the top 15 teams in the state by NJ Advance Media, so a champion from outside that quartet is highly unlikely. If it were to happen, Paul VI looks like the team that can pull it off. The Eagles are on the side of the bracket with the two perennial powers in this section – CBA and No. 4 St. Augustine – and already have a 4-0 loss to St. Augustine. They also have a more recent win over Delran as part of a four-game winning streak, so perhaps Paul VI has found something that works heading into tournament time.
Bracket Breakdown: This section typically maxes out with three legitimate contenders and there have been years in which CBA and St. Augustine were realistically the only teams capable of winning it. With Pingry and No. 3 St. Peter’s Prep in the field this year, there are no fewer than four teams with a legitimate chance to win it and the teams outside that top four will have to beat multiple state-ranked teams to pull off a championship run. That is tough news for a team like St. John Vianney, which has had a strong season with a team light on seniors. The Lancers will have a chance to win a tournament game when they host Donovan Catholic Friday and would be elated just to upset one of the giants of the bracket.
Championship Prediction: CBA over Pingry. CBA demonstrated its championship mettle by winning a third straight Shore Conference Tournament championship and looked like a team that greatly benefited from the extra recovery days built into the tournament schedule. That, of course, will benefit every team, but CBA has shown it is particularly effective on fresh legs. Still, this is the hardest South Jersey bracket the Colts have ever had to navigate and even a good performance from CBA could come up short against teams like St. Augustine, Pingry and St. Peter’s.
(9) Camden Catholic over (8) St. Joseph Metuchen
(5) Paul VI over (12) Union Catholic
(6) Notre Dame over (11) Immaculata
(7) St. John Vianney over (10) Donovan Catholic
(1) CBA over (9) Camden Catholic
(4) St. Augustine over (5) Paul VI
(3) Pingry over (6) Notre Dame
(2) St. Peter’s Prep over (7) St. John Vianney
(1) CBA over (4) St. Augustine
(3) Pingry over (2) St. Peter’s Prep
(1) CBA over (3) Pingry
South Jersey Non-Public B
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 St. Rose, No. 6 Ranney
Top Seed: Moorestown Friends
Defending Champion: St. Rose
Favorite: St. Rose. The Purple Roses are one of four teams in the section that has played a schedule that looks like it belongs to a potential state champion. Moorestown Friends, No. 10 Princeton Day and No. 11 Bishop Eustace are the others and the latter two combined for two wins this season to date. St. Rose is markedly improved from last season, when the Purple Roses overcame a red card, a near comeback and a penalty-kick shootout during a run to their first sectional championship since 2010.
Darkhorse: Princeton Day. Strength of schedule is a separator for teams in the Non-Public B bracket, which is why a one-win No. 10 seed has a chance to make a run. The Panthers are two years removed from winning the section and nearly came back to beat St. Rose in the sectional quarterfinals a year ago. Princeton Day played a challenging schedule and was fairly competitive, despite the unsightly record, which includes a tie vs. No. 1 seed Moorestown Friends. Ranney can also be considered a sleeper after playing St. Rose tough this season and if the Panthers can pull off that upset, they will have a legitimate chance at a sectional title.
Bracket Breakdown: The past three sectional champions – St. Rose (2022), Princeton Day (2021) and Moorestown Friends (2019) – figure to be the three contenders in the section and all three are playing for a shot to pay back Gill St. Bernard’s in the state final after all three lost to the four-time defending state champion in their trips to the championship game. No. 2 Doane Academy has had a fine season as well, but its schedule is extremely light on high-level opponents (and mid-level opponents, for that matter).
Championship Prediction: St. Rose over Moorestown Friends. St. Rose has the tougher path to the final, but if the Purple Roses can get there, they will have everything they need to knock off Moorestown Friends for a second straight season – even if St. Rose has to travel to get it done.
(9) Wildwood Catholic 3, (8) St. Joseph Hammonton 2 (Played on Oct. 25)
(5) Trenton Catholic over (12) Noor-ul Iman
(6) Ranney over (11) Bishop Eustace
(10) Princeton Day over (7) Gloucester Catholic
(1) Moorestown Friends over (9) Wildwood Catholic
(4) Holy Cross Prep over (5) Trenton Catholic
(3) St. Rose over (6) Ranney
(10) Princeton Day over (2) Doane Academy
(1) Moorestown Friends over (4) Holy Cross Prep
(3) St. Rose over (10) Princeton Day
(3) St. Rose over (1) Moorestown Friends