Boys Soccer – SCT Quarterfinal Predictions
(5) Wall at (4) Ocean, 3 p.m.
The B North rubber match will feature two teams that will both be at full strength and Ocean, in particular, will benefit from having a full lineup. Ocean goalkeeper Yianni Kavarakas did not play in Wall’s 1-0 win in September, while Alexis missed Ocean’s win on Oct. 16. In both games, the winning team scored in the sixth minute and held on to win, but the difference is that Wall kept attacking, while Wall was able to defend without generating much of an attack after jumping out on top. Ocean’s ability to attack makes them the favorite in most games, even against a Wall team that has allowed two goals all season long. The Pick: Ocean, 1-0
(6) Toms River South at (3) Freehold Township, 3 p.m.
As Marlboro coach Dave Santos commented following his team’s loss to Toms River South, there are a lot of similarities between these two teams. Freehold Township will face an Indians team that has speed and vertical ability that can rival that of the Patriots, so Freehold Township might not be able to own the ball in the air on set-pieces to the degree that it has all season. Lately, however, the Patriots have been able to score in a variety of ways and their defense is playing better than it has all year. Toms River South will look to get through leg two of the Class A North gauntlet after already beating Marlboro and while they are a legitimate contender for the title at this point, they are running into arguably the most complete team in the field. The Pick: Freehold Twp., 1-0
(7) Manalapan at (2) CBA, 3 p.m.
CBA might be the consensus favorite to win the tournament, but the Colts will have to beat a team that has already defeated them twice this year just to reach the semifinals. CBA has yet to score on Manalapan this year and when the Braves have been focused, they have been hard to score on for any opponent. It appeared Saturday that CBA sent a message in a 5-0 win over Toms River South that they will have their scoring shoes on for the postseason, and if that’s the case, there may be no stopping the Colts - not even for a team that has had their number so far this year. The Pick: CBA, 2-1
(9) Middletown North at (1) Shore, 4 p.m.
Reaching the SCT semifinals is a significant accomplishment for any Shore Conference team, regardless of history. CBA, for all its dominance over the years, has not been to the semifinals in any of the last three tournaments, so it’s a big deal for any team. With that being said, one of the two teams in this quarterfinal will be celebrating a little louder than any of the other three winners. Shore is a Group I school that will be out to prove it is worthy of the No. 1 seed for as long as the Blue Devils are alive, while Middletown North is an oft-forgotten A North team that can take a step to the forefront with one more win. The Lions have been borderline dominant during a seven-game winning streak and the Blue Devils have shown some vulnerability in the back over the last several games, so this game could be considered a toss-up. The difference is sometimes as simple as which team is better at finishing the chances it gets and no team in the Shore Conference – big school or small school – has been better at that part of the game than Shore. The Pick: Shore, 4-2
Round of 16 Picks Record: 7-1
Overall Pick Record: 15-4