Boys Soccer – Toms River Teams Leave Brick With Big Wins
BRICK TWP. - After 40 minutes Tuesday in Brick, the Toms River North boys soccer team found themselves in a tight match against a Brick side coming off one of its biggest weeks of soccer in the last decade.
By the 10th minute of the second half, Toms River North - the No. 2 team in the Shore Sports Network - returned to the form of a runaway train headed for an undefeated regular season.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toms River North at Brick by Paula Lopez
Senior Jack Montanile, senior Ali Baish and junior A.J. Emnace scored within the first 10 minutes of the second half to break open a scoreless game and spark the Mariners to a 6-1 win over the No. 10 Green Dragons - their 11th straight to start the season.
Montanile added a second goal later in the half, while juniors Jake Nagel and Nico Gonzalez each added a score for Toms River North.
Senior Zack Meyer scored the lone goal for Brick, which upset previously unbeaten Southern last week, 3-2, in Brick. Prior to Tuesday, the Green Dragons were a perfect 5-0 on their home field and for the first 40 minutes against Toms River North, 6-0 appeared within reach.
With each convincing win, Toms River North is proving that last year's run to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV championship as a No. 16 was anything but a fluke and with this year's version of the NJSIAA Tournament slated to be seeded on Thursday, the Mariners will be a favorite to win whichever bracket the seeding committee deals them.
Toms River East Warming Up as the Weather Turns Cold
A 1-6 start is nothing short of ugly for a team like Toms River East - a senior-led outfit that entered 2020 with hopes of contending for a Shore Conference Class A South title.
Upon closer examination, however, that start included playing the top three teams in the divisional standings - Toms River North, Southern and Brick - over the first six games and a close loss to defending division champion Jackson Memorial.
Since then, Toms River East is 3-1 with wins over Jackson Memorial, Toms River South and Brick Memorial, the latter of which the Raiders took care of Tuesday morning, 1-0.
"We lost the first two games of the season to (Toms River) North and that was pretty deflating," Toms River East coach Mike Konopka said. "North turned out to be even better than we expected but still, we were a team that came into the year with high expectations. A few losses later and we look up and the division (championship) is not there for us anymore. I think once we came to terms with that and still realized we could still compete for a state championship, I think that has refocused our guys and they have started to respond."
Senior Alex Heid ran down a through-ball from senior Taylor Scollan, touched it past goalkeeper Rich Kijak, and finished on an open net in the 18th minute for the lone goal of the game.
Junior goalkeeper Ryan Testa made three saves, the most difficult a leaping parry on a shot by Brick Memorial senior Jack Fanning, to earn the shutout.
Konopka is hoping his team can close the season with three more wins - one over Brick Memorial to finish off this week and two vs. winless Central next week - to close out the regular season with a .500 winning percentage. If the Raiders can get a workable draw in the NJSIAA Tournament, the Raiders head coach is selling his idea on being like another postseason darling from Toms River.
"We remind them of what (Toms River) North did last year and we figure why not us?," said Konopka, referencing the run the crosstown Mariners made to a South Jersey Group IV championship as a No. 16 seed. "I think there are some similarities between the two teams and I think if this team starts to feed off that emotion that comes with winning late in the season, I think we can be dangerous."