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During its run to the 2022 NJSIAA Non-Public B championship game, the St. Rose boys soccer team showed it could handle high-pressure games against quality competition -- all with group that was set to return quality talent for 2023.

Even with that championship-game experience, the Purple Roses had their work cut out for them if they wanted to advance out of the Shore Conference Tournament group stage. The rest of Group 3 included a talented Manasquan side that beat St. Rose last year, a Freehold Township squad that has won consecutive Central Jersey Group IV titles and a Raritan team that is currently on a three-game winning streak.

With all that competition and some early-season struggles finishing goals vs. the top opponents on their schedule, the Purple Roses had some questions to answer.

Last week, they answered all of them.

St. Rose opened last week by steamrolling Manasquan and closed it out by blanking Freehold Township to finish a perfect run through the group stage of the SCT and earn the fourth Surf Taco Boys Soccer Team of the Week Award in 2023.

Manasquan was coming off a 3-2, overtime loss at Holmdel -- the No. 2 ranked team in the Shore Sports Network Shore 16 at the time. The loss was the first the Warriors had suffered this season and with each game, they appeared more and more like a threat to play deep into both conference and state tournaments.

Those deep runs might still happen for Manasquan, but St. Rose gave the Warriors something to think about first. The Purple Roses jumped on top early and never let up in a 6-0 drubbing of Manasquan that effectively won St. Rose first place in Group 3. Senior Jack Tiernan delivered a pair of goals, while senior Diego Nieves controlled the game from his defensive center midfield spot. Throw in another sparkling effort by senior goalkeeper Jack Harmon and St. Rose showed what it looks like when its entire team is clicking.

The Purple Roses also had a slip-up last week that could wind up costing them the Class B Central championship, but that slip-up could not have been worse if not for a game-saving free kick by senior Jack Kane. With St. Rose trailing division rival Point Pleasant, 2-1, on the road, Kane launched a long free kick that found the back of the net in the final minute of regulation, sending the match into overtime.

St. Rose settled for a draw and lost control of its own destiny in the Class B Central race, but avoided the loss thanks to a clutch kick by Kane.

After the disappointing result in Point Pleasant, St. Rose bounced back with another clean performance vs. a high-profile opponent. The Purple Roses shut down Freehold Township, 2-0, to complete the 3-0 run through Group 3, with Tiernan scoring a goal and assisting another by fellow senior Isaiah Taylor. Freehold Township went on to beat No. 5 Middletown North two days later.

St. Rose will march into the Shore Conference Tournament will a seed that is likely no worse than No. 8 with a chance to inch up toward the top five. More importantly, the Purple Roses have again shown they are a serious threat to the vast majority of teams in the SCT field and also as a team capable of reaching the Non-Public B final for a second straight year.


2023 Surf Taco Boys Soccer Team of the Week Winners

Week 1: Central

Week 2: Colts Neck

Week 3: Howell


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