Boys Soccer – SSN Top 10, Oct. 24
The Shore Conference Tournament down to eight teams and the outcome of the first two rounds has certainly shaped the newest version of the Top 10. Although there is a premium on postseason performance, it still is not the only part of the season, which is why a number of teams that are no longer in the SCT maintain standing in the rankings.
For many teams, the SCT is the best chance to establish footing for the final top 10 because the state tournament breaks teams up into sections of varying degrees of difficulty. The weaker the bracket, the better a team has to do to climb the rankings. That won’t be a factor for another two weeks, however, as the Shore Conference finishes up crowning a champion this week.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (17-1, 13-1) Last Week: 1
For the first time this year, CBA’s top spot needs to be justified. Although the Colts did lose their most recent meeting with Marlboro, 3-1, they still won the Class A North division title and played that Marlboro game without senior center back Scott Misson. Those conditions keep CBA at No. 1 for the time being, but now the Shore Conference Tournament final might very well determine the No. 1 ranking to end the year.
2. Marlboro (15-1-1, 12-1-1) Last Week: 2
While Marlboro has been the No. 2 team for some time now, the Mustangs have never been that close to actually moving into the No. 1 spot until now. A legitimate 3-1 win over CBA on Wednesday of last week delayed CBA’s division title celebration by a day and set up a potential rubber match in the SCT final if both teams can get there.
3. Middletown North (12-3-1, 11-3-0) Last Week: 6
The Lions had a case to be the No. 3 seed in the SCT, but got stuck with the No. 7 seed and now have to face Marlboro in the quarterfinals instead of in the semifinals. It’s bad news for Middletown North, but it’s also bad news for Marlboro, which will have to face a team in the quarterfinals that is much better than most No. 3 seeds.
4. Freehold Township (10-5-1, 8-5-1) Last Week: 3
The Patriots won their Shore Conference Tournament round-of-16 game over Point Boro in grand fashion Saturday night, with a couple of highlight-worthy goals by Adrian Barajas and Jon Finocchiaro. With a draw against Marlboro and a resounding win over Wall, the Patriots still have the collection of results to carve out a top-five spot, but they will have to keep winning to hold it down.
5. Matawan (11-2-3, 7-2-3) Last Week: 4
For the first time in program history, Matawan reached the SCT quarterfinals, beating Wall in the round of 16 on Saturday. With CBA hosting them in the quarterfinals, Matawan won’t suffer if the run ends there and will go into the state tournament with a chance to build on its historic season. If the Huskies can pull off the upset, they will likely be a top-five lock to end the year regardless of what happens after.
6. Point Pleasant Boro (16-2, 13-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Although the Panthers were eliminated from the SCT, their resume currently holds up against the teams below them. They won B South with just one loss – to Pinelands in the second game of the season – and lost to Freehold Township, 2-1, on two spectacular goals. They also swept Donovan Catholic by a combined score of 6-0 and the Griffins beat Toms River South earlier in the year.
7. Toms River South (12-3-1, 12-1-1) Last Week: 5
Even after losing to Donovan Catholic to end a 6-0 start, Toms River South boosted its record to 10-1 before trouble set in. Since that 10-1 opening to the season, the Indians are 2-2-1 over their last five matches, with losses to Toms River North and Jackson Memorial and a scoreless draw against Central. Now that Toms River South is in Central Jersey Group III, the state tournament will give the Indians a chance to assert themselves over some other Shore staples like Ocean and Wall.
8. Toms River North (12-4, 11-3) Last Week: 10
If not for a loss to a two-win Toms River East team on Monday, Toms River North would have a case to be a top-five team and that remains a possibility down the road. The trouble the Mariners have is that they don’t have to go through any of the teams ranked ahead of them until the SCT semifinals against either CBA or Matawan. They also play in a brutal South Jersey Group IV bracket, so they can certainly boost their stock in that tournament as well.
9. Pinelands (14-4, 12-2) Last Week: Not ranked
The Wildcats have acquitted themselves well all year and bowed out of the Shore Conference Tournament with a hard-fought, 1-0 loss to Marlboro with leading scorer Matt O’Connell sidelined by a back injury. Pinelands scored a resounding win over Shore in the opening round of the SCT and between them and Point Boro, B South has been well-represented this year.
10. Jackson Memorial (10-7-1, 7-7-0) Last Week: Not ranked
Jackson Memorial and Holmdel are neck-and-neck for the No. 10 spot, and while Holmdel was the more convincing victor on Saturday, Jackson Memorial tied a Raritan team Thursday that had just defeated Holmdel three days earlier and then beat a ranked opponent in the round of 16. Jackson Memorial also played a chunk of its schedule without Mike Schoener and the senior striker has only recently rounded back into form.
Ocean (12-4, 11-3) Last Week: 7 – Ocean has three wins against tournament teams and two of them are 1-0 wins on own goals.
Manasquan (11-4-2, 10-3-1) Last Week: 8 – After a tough shootout loss to Holmdel, the Warriors will turn their attention to the South Jersey Group II tournament.
Wall (11-5-3, 9-2-3) Last Week: 9 – The Crimson Knights couldn’t get much going against Matawan in a 1-0 loss, but will have a chance to climb back into the list while playing in an NJSIAA bracket with Ocean and Toms River South.
Top 10 Watch List
Holmdel (8-5-2, 6-5-1) – Holmdel still doesn’t have a win against the top 10, but that is partially because they knocked Ocean out of the rankings in convincing fashion.
Colts Neck (9-8, 7-7) – With a win over Freehold Township, two wins against a quality Manalapan side, and three losses to CBA, the Cougars are better than their record suggests.
Manalapan (8-8-1, 6-8-0) – The Braves are back to the .500 mark for the first time since the first week of the season and have some good results: a win over Freehold Township, a tie against Middletown North on the road and one-goal losses to Marlboro and CBA.
Raritan (10-2-4, 7-2-3) – If the Rockets could have survived the first round, penalty-kick affair against Jackson Memorial and knocked off Toms River South as the Jaguars ended up doing, they would be ranked.
Asbury Park (13-2-1, 12-0-0) – The Blue Bishops could not quite keep up as the schedule got tougher, but they have hold their own in losses to Matawan and Middletown North. That should serve them well in the Group I tournament.
Central (11-5-2, 9-4-1) – A solid A South resume warrants mention, but scoring woes (zero goals in 184 minutes) during the Shore Conference Tournament stalled Central’s top-10 push.