Boys Soccer – Shore Sports Network Top 10, Sept. 25
Last week’s Top 10 welcomed five new teams into the mix and while the parity-filled 2017 season continued this past week, it was not enough to dramatically change the top 10. Only two new teams join rankings this week and both are teams that began the season as top 10 squads.
1. Holmdel (6-0, 5-0) Last Week: 1
The Hornets have not done anything to lose their No. 1 spot, but CBA continues to put the pressure on. Holmdel can’t be much more impressive than it has been, outscoring opponents 31-3 as the Class A Central race becomes what appears to be a formality. According to coach John Nacarlo, he is working with athletic director Shane Fallon to add a high-profile opponent to make up for losing the Monroe game and given CBA’s loaded schedule, that might be necessary to stay ahead of the oncoming Colts.
2. Christian Brothers Academy (8-1, 5-0) Last Week: 2
With wins over perennially strong Chaminade (N.Y) and DeMatha (Md.) programs, the Colts picked up two more impressive wins that will add to their case to be the No. 1 team. With only a last-minute loss to a loaded St. Benedict’s squad, it’s hard to deny that the Colts have the most impressive resume of any team in the Shore. Holmdel has dominated enough to remain No. 1, but when it comes time to officially compare the two teams, CBA is building a great case for itself.
3. Pinelands (7-0, 6-0) Last Week: 3
In its first week as a top-five team in the Shore Conference, Pinelands handled the burden by winning two more games against Donovan Catholic and Barnegat. The Wildcats might have to get back overwhelming teams to ward off challenges from teams like Jackson Memorial and Long Branch for the No. 3 spot, but Southern’s recent winning streak is only serving to aid Pinelands in solidifying its position.
4. Jackson Memorial (7-1, 4-1) Last Week: 4
The Jaguars held serve this past week with wins over Toms River East, St. Rose and Steinert and are emerging as the frontrunner in Class A South, albeit with a long way to go. Southern already has a win over Jackson and appears to be making a run at the top of the standings, so that could become the marquee game later in the schedule, but for now, the Jaguars are the A South representative in the top five.
5. Long Branch (7-1, 5-1) Last Week: 6
The Green Wave are the only new team in the top five this week after hammering Monmouth Regional to cap a 3-0 week. Long Branch’s only loss is a 2-1 overtime loss to Ocean in which the Green Wave outshot the Spartans 18-7, so the case for Long Branch as a top-tier team is going to gain steam if the Wave keeps rolling over opponents the way it has during its six-game winning streak.
6. Freehold Township (5-3, 4-2) Last Week: Not ranked
The Patriots bounced back with a pair of wins this week, which followed a loss to CBA on Monday. Freehold Township got past Marlboro and held off Manalapan to move back into second place in Class A North, which is still as deep and powerful as any division in the Shore Conference.
7. Ocean (5-2, 5-1) Last Week: 10
The Spartans are battling some injuries lately, with scoring threats Santieno Harding and Steve Carton hobbled. Despite that, Ocean snapped a two-game skid by winning a pair of games this week against Middletown South and Wall.
8. Rumson-Fair Haven (6-1, 4-1) Last Week: 8
Despite losing a one-sided game to No. 1 Holmdel, the Bulldogs hold steady in the rankings with Toms River South and Middletown South losing during the past week. Rumson might have to turn in a better showing against Holmdel next time through the division to remain in the Top 10 but by continuing to win, the Bulldogs will have a strong case.
9. Southern (4-2, 4-1) Last Week: Not ranked
A 6-1 loss to Brick Memorial does not look like a top-10 result, but since that loss dropped them to 0-2, the Rams have won four straight and are starting to look like the team that entered the season as a potential breakthrough program. A trip to Toms River South this week will be a good indicator as to how far the Rams have come.
10. Middletown North (5-3, 3-3) Last Week: 7
Consecutive losses to Monmouth and Middletown South will raise some questions about the Lions’ staying power, but the resume is still very good. Middletown North started the week by beating Ocean, which is part of a resume that also includes wins over Westfield, Manalapan and Wall.
Toms River South (4-2, 4-2) Last Week: 5 – Toms River South’s four wins are against teams with losing records, so the Indians could use a win against Southern on Monday to turn the tide and catapult back toward the top five.
Freehold Boro (4-4, 3-3) Last Week: 9 – A loss to Howell drops Freehold Boro to .500 and out of the top 10, but with plenty of games against quality opponents, the Colonials will have a chance to climb back in the picture.
Top 10 Watch List
Howell (3-2-1, 3-2-1) – The Rebels have lost to CBA and Freehold Township and tied Manalapan, so there is reason to believe they are re-establishing themselves as a postseason team and one that could potentially do damage in late October and early November.
Manalapan (2-2-2, 2-1-2) – The first time through A North has produced some tough results for Manalapan, but with a junior-heavy group, the second pass through the schedule should be better for the Braves.
Brick Memorial (4-2-1, 3-2-1) – After a power-outage-shortened tie against Brick, the Mustangs have gone back to work by beating Toms River South, Central and Jackson Liberty.
Middletown South (5-3, 3-3) – The Eagles snapped a two-game skid by knocking off rival Middletown North and doing so by putting up four goals.
Monmouth (5-4, 3-3) – Although the week ended with a 6-1 loss to Long Branch, Monmouth showed serious progress by beating Middletown North on Wednesday.