Boys Soccer – SSN Top 10, Oct. 1
September is over and there are less than two weeks left until the Shore Conference Tournament will be seeded. The preseason No. 1 team has yet to lose, but there is another team that has been making a strong case to be No. 1 from the very beginning. Outside of the top two teams, the Shore Conference has been a week-to-week free-for-all with a handful of one-loss teams and some streaky clubs that could be poised to catch fire in the postseason.
Only two new teams enter the top 10 this week – one a top-five team from the preseason and another making its first top 10 appearance this season. Other than those two additions, it’s business as usual in the SSN Top 10 heading into October.
1. Holmdel (8-0, 7-0) Last Week: 1
Once again, Holmdel won’t be penalized as an undefeated team, but it’s getting harder and hard for the Hornets to hold off CBA from the No. 1 spot. Holmdel will have a chance to solidify its top spot when the Hornets travel to play Pingry on Friday in what should be their toughest game of the regular season. With an impressive performance in that game, Holmdel should hold on to the No. 1 ranking as long as they remain unbeaten.
2. Christian Brothers Academy (10-1, 7-0) Last Week: 2
If CBA started the season No. 1 in the rankings, the Colts would probably be the No. 1 team right now. As it is, the Colts will have a great shot to be the No. 1 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and if Holmdel does not beat Pingry, the Colts should be a lock for that distinction – assuming they, themselves, finish strong.
3. Pinelands (9-1, 8-1) Last Week: 3
Despite losing for the first time this season Saturday against Point Boro, Pinelands remains the No. 3 team in the conference. The Wildcats have a win over Southern, which is the only team to beat Jackson Memorial this season. Pinelands is still the overwhelming favorite to win the B South title, but the Wildcats will have to get back to winning this week to hold on to the top-five spot.
4. Jackson Memorial (9-1-1, 6-1-1) Last Week: 4
The loss to Southern keeps Jackson behind Pinelands for the moment, but the overall body of work gives the Jaguars a chance to climb as long as they can keep plugging through the A South schedule. Although they certainly would like to have beaten Toms River South for a second time, a win and a tie over the defending division champs is a big accomplishment and will afford the Jaguars every opportunity to finish off the program’s first A South title in five years.
5. Ocean (7-2, 7-1) Last Week: 7
The Spartans are back in the top 10 after handling Long Branch, 3-0, to finish off their week. Some personnel developments have helped to boost Ocean’s play since dropping back-to-back games against Freehold Boro and Middletown North – Santieno Harding and Mark Mauro have gotten healthy, Job Cajas as returned to the team and Max Winters has settled in a goalkeeper.
6. Toms River South (6-2-1, 6-2-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Beating Southern to open the week gave Toms River South its first win over a team with a.500 record or better and the draw against Jackson also served to get the Indians back into the top 10 after a brief absence. Although they failed to beat Jackson Memorial this season, the Indians are still in position to win the division for a fourth consecutive season if they can win out and get some help from any one of Jackson Memorial’s remaining opponents.
7. Howell (5-2-1, 5-2-1) Last Week: Not ranked
The Rebels make their 2017 top 10 debut thanks to a current five-game winning streak. Howell had to open the season against CBA, Freehold Township and Manalapan in its first three games and after going 0-2-1 in that stretch, has won every game since. The latest win was the biggest one – a 3-2 win over Freehold Township in which the Rebels squandered a 2-0 lead but pulled out the win on a late penalty kick.
8. Long Branch (8-3, 6-3) Last Week: 5
A two-loss week stalled Long Branch’s momentum but the Green Wave got back on track against Red Bank Catholic on Tuesday. The B North championship might have slipped away with a second loss to Ocean, but there are enough dangerous teams in the division for Long Branch to catch Ocean, provided the Green Wave can win its last five division games. That, however, won’t be easy.
9. Rumson-Fair Haven (8-1, 5-1) Last Week: 8
The Bulldogs have a similar problem to Holmdel in that they could use some noteworthy non-divisional results to boost their stock. Despite that, a win over Marlboro means something and Class A Central has fared pretty well outside the division, with Raritan beating Monmouth and Matawan beating Manasquan. Combine that with Rumson having just one loss to Holmdel and the Bulldogs are still comfortably in the top 10.
10. Freehold Twp. (6-4, 5-3) Last Week: 6
The Patriots have appeared primed to breakout on a number of occasions so for, but have tripped up a couple of times now. They got beat, 3-0, by Neptune and after seemingly righting the ship over the next two week, they dropped a home game against Howell to end last week. With CBA three games in front, the overall division title is a longshot, but the Patriots are still in play for the public title in A North.
Southern (4-4-1, 4-3-1) Last Week: 9 – The Rams dropped games to Toms River South and Brick Memorial and tied Toms River North this week, enough to knock them from the rankings.
Middletown North (7-4, 4-4) Last Week: 10 – Middletown North still has the win over Westfield, but wins against Manalapan and Freehold Boro currently carry less weight because both A North teams are currently under .500.
Top 10 Watchlist
Brick Memorial (6-3-1, 5-3-1) – The Mustangs have an uphill climb if they want to win A South given that they have already lost to Jackson Memorial twice, but with two wins over Southern and another one against Toms River South, Brick Memorial has proven to be dangerous.
Point Pleasant Boro (5-2-3, 4-2-3) – Outside of a 4-1 loss to Pinelands, Point Boro has allowed only three goals in nine games, including a 2-0 win over that same Pinelands team on Saturday on the Point Boro turf.
Monmouth (7-4, 5-3) – The Falcons have arguably been the biggest surprise of the season. Joel Burgos has a silly 22 goals in 11 games while playing in a competitive B North division and with a weapon like that, Monmouth is not a comfortable opponent to face.
Toms River East (5-4, 5-4) – The Raiders have quietly put together a bounceback season and look poised to return to the Shore Conference Tournament after failing to qualify each of the past two seasons.
Middletown South (6-4, 4-4) – In a very tough division, Middletown South has been up for the challenge and a win over Wall this past week after the Crimson Knights needed overtime to win the first meeting back on Sept. 8 should make clear that the Eagles are a postseason-ready team.
Wall (5-5, 4-4) – By Wall’s standards, this has been an up-and-down season, but a win over Long Branch last week is a reminder that the Crimson Knights still have it in them to make noise heading into October.