Photo by Eric Braun
Middletown South celebrates its Shore Conference Tournament title. (Photo by Eric Braun)

1. Middletown South (12-3-1) Previous Rank: 6 -  For the third straight week, there is a new team in the number one spot. Middletown South knocked off the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked teams on the way to winning the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time in program history. The Eagles defeated No. 13 seed Howell in the SCT finals after defeating Central Regional, which was ranked No. 1 in the last Shore 16, in the semifinals. Middletown South enters the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional as the No. 1 seed and will host Neptune on Thursday as its defend CJG3 title.

2. Central (14-1) Previous Rank: 1 - Central’s undefeated season came to an end in the SCT semifinals against Middletown South. Central did everything it could to score the equalizer, but fell just short. The Golden Eagles will regroup and focus on South Jersey Group 4, as they hold the No. 2 seed and open against Lenape.

3. Manalapan (12-2) Previous Rank: 2 - Manalapan has won three straight games since being eliminated from the SCT. Two of the Braves' three wins came against teams ranked in the Shore 16. They scored three second-half goals to defeat Trinity Hall, which was ranked No. 13 last week, 3-0. Manalapan ended the week defeating Rumson-Fair Haven, which was ranked No. 4 last week, 2-0. Manalapan will be the No. 3 seed in Central Jersey Group 4 as the Braves attempt to return to the sectional final. 

4. Freehold Township (14-3) Previous Rank: 3 - Freehold Township played one game since being eliminated in the SCT and that was against No. 11 Point Boro, which the Patriots won, 3-0. That game marked the return of senior Hailey Santiago from injury. Santiago, who was in the running for Player of the Year, scored two goals in her return. Freehold Township will have the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group 4 and will open its Group 4 title defense against West Windsor-Plainsboro South. 

5. Howell (10-6) Previous Rank: 5 - Howell made it to the Shore Conference Tournament finals for the second straight season after they defeated No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals, 1-0. The Rebels ultimately fell in the finals to division rival and No. 7 seed Middletown South, 2-1. Howell was able to strike first but conceded twice, including the deciding goal in the the final five minutes. Howell is the No. 5 seed in Central Jersey Group 4 and will host Hightstown on Thursday.

6. Red Bank Catholic (11-2-3) Previous Rank: 9 - RBC played two ranked opponents last week to prepare for South Jersey Non-Public A. The Caseys defeated No. 12 Marlboro, 2-1, and tied No. 10 Brick Memorial, 1-1. Senior Iva Carton scored both goals in the Marlboro game. RBC will be the No. 2 seed in SJ Non-Public A and will look to return to the finals, where they lost to Paul VI last season, 2-1. RBC will play the winner of No. 10 seed St. Thomas Aquinas and No. 7 Immaculata. 

7. Manasquan (11-4-1) Previous Rank: 8 - Manasquan made it to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time in program history, but lost to Howell, 4-1. Manasquan will be the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group 2 and open up against Robbinsville. Last year, the Warriors fell to Wall in the semifinals of CJG2, 1-0.

8. Rumson-Fair Haven (10-5) Previous Rank: 4 - Rumson lost to Howell in the quarterfinals of the SCT, 1-0. The Bulldogs created several chances in the final 10 minutes, but could not score the equalizer. Rumson lost to Manalapan in a tune-up game for the state tournament, 2-0. Rumson will be the No. 3 seed in Central Jersey Group 2 and will host Bound Brook in the opening round. Last year, Rumson lost in the CJG2 finals to Wall, 2-0.

9. Wall (10-3-1) Previous Rank: 7 - Wall did not play any games last week and will have a gap of 12 days between a loss to Central and Thursday, when the Crimson Knights start the sectional playoffs. Last year, Wall won Central Jersey Group 2 and made it all the way to the Group 2 finals, where they lost to West Morris, 1-0. Wall will be the No. 5 seed and host Delaware Valley in the opening round on Thursday. 

10. Brick Memorial (10-4-1) Previous Rank: 12 - Brick Memorial climbed back into the top 10 this week after it defeated Toms River North for the second time this season and battled No. 6 RBC to a 1-1 draw. The Mustangs are the No. 3 seed in Central Jersey Group 3, which they nearly won last year before they were defeated by No. 1 Middletown South in overtime, 3-2. They will host the No. 14 seed Freehold Boro on Thursday.

11. Point Pleasant Boro (12-2-2) Previous Rank 10 - Point Boro drops one spot after splitting its two games last week. The Panthers lost to No. 4 Freehold Township early in the week, 3-0. Saturday they played a rematch of the second-round SCT game vs. Jackson Memorial that went to penalty kicks, this time winning, 1-0, in regulation. Point Boro will prepare for a deep run in Central Jersey Group 2, where they are the No. 4 seed and will host A.L. Johnson in the opening round.  

12. Marlboro (7-5-2) Previous Rank: 11 - Marlboro split both of its games last week, losing to No. 6 RBC, 2-1, and defeating Toms River North, 2-1. Junior Brooke Gordon scored one goal and had two assists on the week. Marlboro is the No. 10 seed in Central Jersey Group 4 and will travel to No. 7 Sayreville on Thursday.

13. Trinity Hall (13-3-1) Previous Rank: 14 - Trinity Hall had a busy week playing four games and going 3-1. The Monarchs opened the week losing to No. 3 Manalapan, 3-0, and followed that with a 2-1 victory against Toms River East and two non-conference wins against Edison and Princeton. Trinity Hall is the No. 3 seed in South Jersey Non-Public A and will have a first-round bye. They will host the winner of No. 11 Camden Catholic and No. 6 Paul VI. 

Tom Smith |
Middletown North after winning the Shore Coaches Cup. (Photo: Tom Smith |

14. Middletown North (7-6) Previous Rank: Not Ranked - For the first time this season, Middletown North has climbed into the Shore 16. The Lions rattled off four straight wins to become the Shore Coaches Cup champions. They scored two second-half goals to defeat division rival St. John Vianney, 2-0. With Middletown North entering the Shore 16, every Class A North team has at one point been in the rankings this season.  Middletown North is the No. 10 seed in Central Jersey Group 3 and will travel to No. 7 Northern Burlington in the opening round.

15. Lacey (11-4) Previous Rank: Not Ranked - Lacey split two games this week, losing in overtime to Toms River North and defeating previously-ranked No. 14 Jackson Memorial in overtime, 2-1. Junior Reece Paget returned from injury this week and will provide a boost in the midfield as Lacey prepares for South Jersey Group 3. The Lions, who won SJG3 in 2021, will be the No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 Toms River South in the opening round. 

16. Ocean Township (9-5) Previous Rank: 15 - Ocean opened the week up by defeating Red Bank Regional in a non-divisional game, but lost in the semifinals of the Coaches Cup to eventual champion Middletown North. Freshman Mia Fiorentio scored all four goals against RBR and has 12 on the season. Ocean is the No. 7 seed in Central Jersey Group 2 and will host No. 10 Monmouth Regional in the opening round.

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