Boys Soccer – Upsets Shuffle Week 5 Ocean Orthopedic Shore 16 Rankings
Coming off a week that included the top-ranked teams in both Monmouth and Ocean Counties losing to teams not ranked in the top 10 of the Shore 16, it would stand to reason that the rankings are due for the biggest shake-up of the year.
You would think, but you would be wrong. While several teams have drawn closer to ranked status and set themselves up for a jump into the field with big performances this week, the same 16 teams held their line for one more week.
The one significant change to this week’s list is two teams climbing from the fringe of the rankings into the Top 10 – one behind a monumental win and another by running the table for a division championship. Now that the postseason is here, every game is significant and, thus, every game is a chance to make a case in the rankings.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (11-2, 5-1) Last Week: 1
Coming off its first loss to an in-state opponent in 27 matches – all wins – CBA bounced back with a win over Monroe and heads into its first Shore Conference Tournament game Wednesday against Jackson Memorial still the No. 1 team in the conference. The air of invincibility is gone and CBA is just one year removed from needing overtime to beat another Class A South opponent in the round of 16 (Southern), so Jackson Memorial heads to Lincroft Wednesday as a threat to the Colts.
2. Toms River North (10-2, 6-1) Last Week: 4
Outside of its two losses – a 2-1 loss at No. 1 CBA and a 3-2 loss to top-five Southern – the Mariners have dominated the competition. With a good frame-of-reference for what it will take to win a championship thanks to the road test at CBA, plus ample roster depth and a No. 3 seed in the tournament, Toms River North has as good a chance as any team to reach the Shore Conference Tournament and end CBA’s reign as champion.
3. Howell (7-1-2, 4-1-1) Last Week: 2
This year’s Howell team has not been quite as dominant as last year’s squad, but these Rebels have a similar knack for winning games against all comers. Last week, Howell won a tight game over Middletown North to clinch the Class A North public division championship for the second consecutive season. As the No. 2 seed in the SCT, the Rebels will have a tough round-of-16 draw in No. 15 Manasquan, with a potential rematch vs. rival Manalapan awaiting in Saturday’s quarterfinal if the Braves can get by Ocean.
4. Southern (8-2-2, 5-1-1) Last Week: 3
A chance to grab the No. 2 seed in the SCT fell by the wayside for Southern when the Rams lost games on back-to-back days to Jackson Memorial and Point Pleasant Boro to end last week. Southern will have to quickly turn things around in time to meet Middletown North on Wednesday in the SCT round of 16. One positive for the Rams is they have been tested plenty of times during the course of the season and having to run a Monmouth County gauntlet should not phase Southern.
5. Middletown North (9-4, 3-3) Last Week: 5
Like two of the other top-five teams, Middletown North lost a game last week and, as a matter a fact, the Lions lost twice – once to struggling Freehold Township and then to Howell with the Class A North public division championship on the line. With so many other teams losing, though, Middletown North doesn’t fall at all in the rankings. The Lions own a convincing win over last week’s darling, Middletown South, and outside of the Freehold Township loss, their losses are to Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
6. Middletown South (6-4-1, 3-3-0) Last Week: 14
This week’s biggest climber is Middletown South – no surprise considering the Eagles pulled off one of the state’s biggest wins last week when they knocked off No. 1 CBA. Before landing that haymaker, Middletown South also beat a quality Marlboro side last week and got its SCT rolling with a hard-earned win over a game Shore Regional squad.
7. Colts Neck (8-2, 5-0) Last Week: 8
Although Colts Neck lost to Point Boro last Tuesday, Oct. 3, it was a productive week for the Cougars as it pertains to the Class B North championship. Colts Neck’s division-championship pursuit will not end until it faces Long Branch, but the Cougars bounced back from the Point Boro loss by winning a high-scoring match at Manasquan, then taking it to Matawan to secure a win that clinched no worse than a share of the B North title with Manasquan. Colts Neck can wrap up a second straight B North title with a tie or win over Long Branch but first, the Cougars would like to make a deep run in the SCT as the No. 4 seed.
8. Central (7-3-2, 4-2-1) Last Week: 6
Beating Holmdel in a win-or-go-home game to close out SCT group play marked a high point in the last decade of Central Regional boys soccer. What has followed has been this group of Golden Eagles’ first real prolonged struggle and this slump carried into the first round of the SCT, which ended with a heartbreaker defeat to Toms River East in a shootout. Losses to Southern and Toms River North preceded the first-round SCT exit, but Central still has an impressive résumé for 2023 and a state tournament to look forward to.
9. St. Rose (8-1-3, 4-0-2) Last Week: 11
The Purple Roses continue their climb while now on the Shore’s longest active unbeaten streak. Since a season-opening loss to Wall, St. Rose has gone undefeated over its last 11 games – a stretch that includes draws against Long Branch, St. John Vianney and Point Beach. It is rather ironic that in a year in which St. Rose has finally broken through with some notable results outside of Class B Central, the Purple Roses simultaneously failed to win the Class B Central title. A non-divisional showing is always the ask of a B Central team looking for a ranking and since St. Rose has delivered, it is only fair that the Roses get the recognition.
10. Rumson-Fair Haven (8-2-1, 6-0-0) Last Week: 16
After taking out Holmdel and finishing off a third consecutive Class A Central title, the Bulldogs surge into the top 10 despite failing to qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament. Rumson’s only losses this season were a 2-1 loss to No. 6 Middletown South and an overtime loss to Long Branch on an own goal, so with a good showing in the Coaches Cup and the NJSIAA Tournament, a decorated season and high ranking is still in play for the Bulldogs.
11. Holmdel (8-2-1, 5-1-0) Last Week: 7 – Holmdel followed up a loss to Central with another to Rumson, hence the four-spot drop. Since then, though, the Hornets have righted the ship heading into the Coaches Cup.
12. Manasquan (9-4, 5-1) Last Week: 12 – Like Holmdel, Manasquan has made it through a mid-season funk and has taken down the likes of Long Branch and Point Boro heading into an SCT showdown with Howell on Wednesday.
13. Ocean (7-3-1, 4-2-0) Last Week: 13 – The Spartans hold strong at No. 13 after wrapping up first place in a tough SCT Group 6 last week, beating out No. 6 Middletown South and No. 10 Rumson-Fair Haven.
14. Marlboro (5-3-2, 2-3-1) Last Week: 9 – The Mustangs finished below .500 in Class A North, but picked up a win over Manalapan and a draw vs. No. 3 Howell.
15. Manalapan (5-5, 2-4) Last Week: 10 – The Braves will be a dangerous No. 10 seed in the SCT thanks to an experienced, battle-tested lineup with a standout goalkeeper in Matteo Paolillo.
16. Long Branch (9-3-1, 3-2-0) Last Week: 15 – A nine-game unbeaten streak ended with a 1-0 loss to Manasquan Friday, but Long Branch got back on track with an overtime win over a talented Manchester squad.