Vote for the 2017-2018 Shore Sports Network Readers’ Choice Awards
The Shore Sports Network Readers' Choice Awards are back to close out the 2017-2018 scholastic year.
During the season we select our All-Shore teams as well as Players and Coaches of the Year and the No. 1 team in each of the sports we cover. For our year-end awards we're turning it over to you, our loyal fans and readers, to help decide the best of the best in the Shore Conference during the course of the past school year. We've pared it down to three categories from the sports we cover while adding a few wild cards names/teams from some additional sports.
Below are voting polls for Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year and Coach of the Year. Read the bios for each nominee and cast your votes. The polls will be open for 10 days and close on June 28 at midnight. The winners will be announced right here on ShoreSportsNetwork.com on Friday, June 29.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Ashante Worthy, Sr., QB, Freehold football
The Shore Sports Network’s inaugural football MVP, Worthy had the greatest statistical season in Shore Conference and state history to lead the Colonials to an 8-4 record and a trip to the Central Jersey Group IV championship game. Worthy ran for a state single-season record 2,860 yards with 41 touchdowns and added 2,106 yards passing and 20 touchdowns. HIs 61 combined touchdowns between rushing and passing set a state single-season record, and he became the first player in state history to rush and throw for 2,000 yards in a single season.
Cole Corrigan, Sr., Toms River South wrestling
The Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Year, Corrigan defeated Phillipsburg’s Brian Meyer by 5-4 decision to win the 152-pound New Jersey state championship and become Toms River South’s eighth state champion. He won by 9-1 major decision over Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Jack Cannon and pinned DePaul’s Connor O’Neil to reach the quarterfinals. He then edged Paulsboro’s George Worthy, 3-2, in the quarterfinals and shut out Ewing’s Lavinsky Collins, 3-0, to reach the state final. Corrigan was unblemished during his senior season with a 40-0 record, winning the District 28 title to become the Indians’ third four-time district champion and taking his second straight Region 7 title. Corrigan also won the Shore Conference Tournament. His 141 career victories are third all-time in program history. He will continue his career at Columbia University.
Canyon Birch, Jr., Attack, Manasquan lacrosse
Birch had an unforgettable season with a Shore Conference-record 123 goals plus 52 assists for a Shore Conference-record 175 points to lead Manasquan to the Class B North division title, the Shore Conference Tournament title and the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 championship. Birch blew past the previous Shore Conf. single-season goals record of 93 and nearly broke the state record of 129. He also passed 200 career goals and 300 career points. He is currently tied with Southern’s Dylan Jinks for the most career goals in Shore Conference history with 274. Birch had three games with 10 or more goals and seven games with 10 or more points. Birch averaged 5.34 goals and 7.6 points per game. Shore and state career records for goals and points and both in sight for Birch next season.
Anthony Arena, Jr., Forward, Holmdel boys soccer
Holmdel boasted talent all over the field, but when the Hornets were at their most dangerous, it was usually because Anthony Arena was locked in. The junior striker and Monmouth University commit led the Shore Conference in both goals (35) and assists (25) and set a Shore Conference Tournament championship game record with five goals during his team’s 7-1 rout of Ocean to clinch the program’s first-ever title.
Jasmine Colbert, Freehold Township girls soccer
Jasmine Colbert and identical twin sister Jada were the driving force in Freehold Township’s 23-1-1 season that ended with an NJSIAA Group IV co-championship. Jada scored four more goals over the course of the season with 25 to Jasmine’s 21 but Jasmine pitched in 18 assists as well with Jada contributing 11. Both Colbert sisters scored nine goals each during the postseason (Shore Conference and NJSIAA Tournaments), with Jasmine adding eight assists and Jada pitching in eight. Both were huge factors in wild wins over East Brunswick and Washington Township in consecutive rounds, which propelled the Patriots into the Group IV final.
Bryan Antoine, Jr., Guard, Ranney boys basketball
Antoine was a 1,000-point scorer before his junior season even began and although the gifted guard had already won a Shore Sports Network Player of the Year honor as a sophomore, his junior season was his best yet. Antoine averaged a career-high 21.9 points per game while also setting career-highs in rebounds (5.0), assists (2.7), steals (3.4) and blocks (1.1) despite putting up fewer shots as part of Ranney’s most talented team of his tenure. Antoine will enter his senior season 189 points shy of 2,000 for his career and 432 away from reaching the Shore Conference all-time career scoring record.
Dara Mabrey, Sr., Guard, Manasquan
Already a Gatorade Player of the Year in N.J. as a junior, Dara Mabrey came back for her senior year with something to prove. She was a defensive stopper and role player on a Tournament of Champions winner as a freshman and a wing scorer as a sophomore and junior on back-to-back T of C finalists before assuming point guard duties as a senior. Not only did Mabrey dish out a career-high 4.5 assists per game, but she still managed to set a career-high in scoring as well – 22.9 points per game. She was nearly flawless in the SCT final, scoring 33 points on 11-for-16 shooting in a win over St. John Vianney. She came up big again in the T of C final with 19 of her game-high 30 points in the second half to help the Warriors hold off nemesis Franklin and win the program’s third T of C crown since 2011-12.
Craig Larsen, Sr., SS, Toms River North
During an All-Shore campaign in 2017, Larsen flashed an all-around game that included a potent bat with some occasional pop, a quality glove at second base and a pitching repertoire that rivaled some of the best in the area. As a senior, Larsen was so invaluable at shortstop and Toms River North was so deep in pitching that Larsen rarely left his position to pitch. He was a wizard in the field to the point that a repeat of his 2017 season at the plate would have made him a Player of the Year candidate. Instead, he unleashed his newfound power, hitting .495 with seven home runs and Shore-Conference-highs in RBI (40) and slugging percentage (.909) while hitting out of the leadoff spot in the order for the two-time Shore Conference Tournament champions.
Devin Hart, Jr., Point Boro Cross Country/Track and Field
From cross country to indoor season to outdoors, Hart had an incredible scholastic year that added to his legacy as one of the greatest distance runners in Shore Conference history. This spring, Hart became just the third boy to repeat as NJSIAA Meet of Champions 3,200 winner when he ran a personal-best 8:58.58 to take home his second straight state title. Even more incredible was that less than 24 hours earlier, Hart competed in the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle, finishing sixth with a time of 8:53.36 before catching a red-eye flight back to New Jersey to compete at the M.O.C. Hart also captured the cross country M.O.C. title, the indoor two-mile M.O.C crown and won the Penn Relays 3,000. During outdoor season Hart also won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Group 2 meet and the South Jersey Group 2 sectional meet in what was truly an epic year.
Jack Wall, Jr., CBA Golf
Wall, who is committed to the University of South Carolina, had an unbelievable year in leading the Colts to an undefeated season and county, conference and state championships. The junior shot a 4-under 68 at the 84th NJSIAA Individual State Championship at Hopewell Valley Golf Club and defeated East Brunswick’s Arav Patel on the first playoff hole to capture the individual state championship and lead CBA to the T.O.C. team title. Wall also the South Jersey Non-Public A title, the Shore Conference Tournament and the Monmouth County title. Wall averaged 1.6 strokes under par during dual matches and had a tournament average of 70.8. He nearly qualified for the U.S. Open, as well, carding a 3-under at Canoe Brook CountryClub in Summit during sectional qualifying. He finished tied for eighth, just missing a top-five finish to qualify for the U.S. Open.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Matt Cilento, Point Boro football
In his second and final season leading Point Boro, Cilento guided the Panthers to an 11-1 record for their most wins since 2005, their first state sectional championship game since 2007 and the program’s third consecutive Class B South division title. The Panthers shared the title with Lakewood in 2015 but have gone 14-0 within B South over the past two years. It is the third time in program history Point Boro has won three straight division crowns and the first since doing it from 1977 to 1979. The Panthers undefeated before falling to Hillside in the Central Jersey Group 2 championship game and defeated defending champion Manasquan in the semifinals.
Denny D’Andrea, St. John Vianney wrestling
A legend of Shore conference wrestling from his days at Brick Memorial and Manalapan, D’Andrea guided the Lancers to a historic season as the team claimed the program’s first division, Shore Conference and district titles while putting together a record performance in Atlantic City. Their second-place finish at the star-studded Sam Cali Invitational followed by a 31-29 win over Raritan opened eyes around New Jersey, and the dual-meet win over the Rockets cleared the way for SJV to win the Class A Central division title for the first time in program history. Then, at the inaugural Shore Conference Individual Championships, the Lancers out-pointed Howell for the team title with Dean Peterson, Nick Caracappa, Steven Giannios and Paul Liseno winning SCT titles.
The Lancers’ quest for a sectional title came to an end via a 37-31 loss to St. Augustine in the Non-Public South A semifinals, but they rebounded to win the District 19 team title with five champions and 10 region qualifiers. Caracappa won a Region 5 title while Peterson, Giannios and Tyler Pepe also qualified for the state tournament. In Atlantic City, Peterson finished second at 106 pounds to become the Lancers’ highest state place-winner in program history while Caracappa took third at 170 and Giannios placed fourth at 220. Prior to this season, St. John Vianney had just two state medalists, both of whom finished eighth.
John Nacarlo, Holmdel boys soccer
Holmdel was in a different league this season relative to the rest of the Shore and the Hornets were on top of their game throughout the season under the direction of Nacarlo. During his 14 seasons at the helm, Holmdel has won six NJSIAA sectional championships and been to five group finals and the 2017 Group II title marked the second time the Hornets have ever won an overall state title – joining the 2010 squad that won Group III.
Mike Juska, Wall girls soccer
Expectations at Wall were through the roof entering the season and the Crimson Knights lived up to them despite playing in arguably the toughest conference in the state. Wall lost to Freehold Township in September and later lost Amy Paternoster (29 goals in 2017) to a season-ending foot injury in the first SCT game. The Crimson Knights were unphased and tore through the postseason under the steady hand of Juska, who was a member of Wall’s last overall state championship boys team in 2004. After steamrolling the competition in Central Jersey Group II, Wall won a shootout in the Group II semifinals against Cinnaminson and then pulled out an overtime win vs. Westwood in the championship game.
Dave Santos, CBA lacrosse
Santos brought a senior-heavy group together as The Colts finished with a 19-2 record for the program’s most wins in 15 years, won another Class A North division title, advanced to the Shore Conference Tournament championship game for the first time since 2009 and reached the NJSIAA Non-Public A semifinals for the first time since 2007. CBA’s only losses were to Manasquan in the SCT final and to Seton Hall Prep in the state semifinals, both of which were top-five teams in the state at the time. CBA was also the only Shore Conference team to defeat Manasquan, doing so with a 6-4 regular-season win.
Tahj Holden, Ranney boys basketball
Tahj Holden took the head coaching position at Ranney before the 2015-16 season knowing the expectations would be high from day one and almost unreasonable by 2018 considering Ranney’s very short history of winning in boys basketball. Outside of a Shore Conference Tournament semifinal loss to Marlboro in 2017, the Panthers have not had any slip-ups and might have even exceeded expectations this past season. Ranney won the Shore Conference Tournament with four consecutive routs and nearly took down No. 1 Roselle Catholic in the NJSIAA Non-Public B final. Holden showed up to that anticipated game four days after learning his 18-month-old son, Max, had a form of childhood cancer – a cause around which his players and the community have since rallied.
Lisa Kukoda, Manasquan girls basketball
Maybe this year’s 32-2 Tournament of Champions winner was what Manasquan was destined to be, but it hardly seemed that way when Lisa Kukoda took over the program in 2012-13. Two standout players from the No. 1 team in N.J. transferred out of the program, but the Warriors remained competitive and promising. By the next year, one of the two – Marina Mabrey – returned and jumpstarted a run of five straight years with an appearance in the T of C final. This year might have marked Kukoda’s finest team yet, with the Warriors avenging heartbreaking losses in the SCT and Tournament of Champions from one year earlier to reach the top spot in N.J. once again.
Frank Malta, Jackson Memorial baseball
Frank Malta is one of the most accomplished and respected coaches in the Shore Conference, but he knew he needed to change things up with the team he had in 2018. Coming off two rare losing seasons, Malta applied a renewed emphasis on infield defense designed to back up a veteran pitching staff and the result was a fundamentally sound, 25-7 team whose best days are still ahead. The Jaguars won a share of the Class A South championship along with a loaded Toms River North team and won the South Jersey Group IV championship thanks to standout pitching and defense that shut out three of the four opponents in the sectional playoffs. Jackson Memorial finished the season unbeaten on its hitter-friendly home field despite not relying on the home run as much as in years past – a tribute to the overhaul of the pitching staff and defense executed by Malta and his staff.
Mick Messemer, St. John Vianney ice hockey
In his fourth season leading the Lancers, Messemer led SJV to a breakout season that saw the team push into the top 10 in New Jersey. Following an 11-8-4 campaign in 2017, the Lancers emerged with a 19-4-2 record that included wins over perennial powers CBA and St. Augustine. St. John Vianney also captured the Egan Cup and the Handchen Cup titles.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
St. John Vianney football
The Lancers finished as the No. 1 team in the SSN Top 10 for the first time in program history after a fourth straight 10-win season where they extended their Shore Conference winning streak to 38 games. St. John Vianney won the Class A Central division title for the fourth straight season thanks in large part to a thrilling 31-28 overtime victory over Rumson-Fair Haven. The Lancers other major regular-season victory came in Week 7 when they defeated rival Red Bank Catholic, 35-17. SJV also posted victories over playoff qualifiers Brick, Holmdel, Middletown South and Monmouth. They reached the semifinals of the Non-Public Group III state playoffs where they fell to eventual-champion DePaul, 42-21. The Lancers finished with the No. 1 offense in the Shore averaging 43.7 points per game.
The Rebels captured their second straight NJSIAA Group V championship and finished undefeated (30-0) for the first time in program history to highlight an all-time season. The season began with a dominating victory at Paulsboro’s John and Betty Vogeding Tournament and continued through the state tournament in Atlantic City where they had three state place-winners among a Shore Conference-high nine state qualifiers. Howell won the Class A North division title for the 13th straight season, finished second in the team standings at the Shore Conference Tournament, won their third straight sectional title and then won the Group 5 title for the second year in a row. Among the Rebels’ regular-season victories were a 53-14 win over Kittatinny and a 41-14 win over Group III champion South Plainfield.
In the individual postseason, Howell won the District 22 team title for its third straight district championship. At the Region 6 Tournament Darby Diedrich and Christian Murphy won individual titles and the Rebels sent nine wrestlers to the state tournament. At Boardwalk Hall, Kyle Slendorn finished second at 132 pounds, sophomore Shane Reitsma took sixth at 170 and senior Jerry Lleshi made a great run to place eighth at 113 pounds.
Manasquan boys lacrosse
The Warriors went 20-3 and won the Class B South division title for the fourth straight season, claimed their second straight Shore Conference Tournament title and also won the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 championship. Their offense was explosive, led by record-setting junior Canyon Birch, who set Shore Conference single-season records with 123 goals and 175 points. The Warriors’ only loss to a Shore team came to CBA, 6-4, but the got revenge two weeks later by dominating the Colts, 11-3, in the SCT final. Manasquan then marched through the South Jersey Group 1 bracket and defeated Madison, 15-8, to win the program’s second sectional title before falling to Mountain Lakes in the Group 1 title game.
Holmdel boys soccer
The Hornets lived up to the hype as the top team in the Shore heading into the preseason by authoring one of the most dominant seasons by a Shore Conference team in recent memory. Holmdel rolled to a 22-1-1 season that included both Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Group II championships and a season-long goal differential of 122-14. Holmdel was ranked the No. 4 team in N.J. to finish the season and in the top 10 in the nation according to MaxPreps at the end of the season.
Wall girls soccer
An early-season loss at Freehold Township was the only blemish on Wall’s record and the Crimson Knights turned the remainder of the season into a proving ground. Not only did Wall go on to beat Freehold Township to win the Shore Conference Tournament title for the second time in four years and follow it up with its first-ever outright NJSIAA group title, but the Crimson Knights did so with Princeton University signee Amy Paternoster sidelined with a foot injury throughout the postseason. With arguably the team’s best scorer out for the conference and state tournaments, Wall still finished 24-1-2, capped by a thrilling, golden-goal win over Westwood in the Group II championship game that secured the No. 1 ranking in the state.
Ranney boys basketball
The 2017-18 basketball season marked the arrival of Ranney as a powerhouse in N.J. and there is still another year left with its heralded five-star duo of Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis. As juniors, Antoine and Lewis led the Panthers to the best season in school history after doing the same as freshmen and sophomores. The new standard at Ranney includes the first ever Shore Conference Tournament title in any team sport at the school, the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public B championship and a 28-5 overall mark. Ranney came up two points short of beating Tournament of Champions winner Roselle Catholic in the Non-Public B final and finished No. 2 in N.J., according to NJ.com.
Manasquan girls basketball
Any basketball team in New Jersey would sign for Manasquan’s recent success in girls basketball, even before the 2017-18 was in the books. Prior to this year, the Warriors had been to four straight Tournament of Champions finals and won one of them – the first team to ever reach the title game in four straight years. It was not, however, good enough for the players who came up one win shy of a title in both 2016 and 2017 and Manasquan came back this year by going 32-2, winning its third Shore Conference Tournament title in the last five years and capturing the Tournament of Champions title that eluded them in 2016 and 2017 by beating the same Franklin team that beat the Warriors at the buzzer to win the T of C one year earlier.
Jackson Memorial baseball
Jackson Memorial has been a mainstay at the top of the Shore Conference rankings during the majority of Frank Malta’s tenure, but the previous two seasons saw the Jaguars finish below .500. An influx of talent to the varsity level this season was a sign that the Jaguars would not be down long, but with five sophomores and only two seniors in the everyday starting lineup, 2018 could have easily been a preview of better things to come. If it is, Jackson Memorial is bound for big things after the sophomore-heavy group finished No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 by going 25-7, winning a share of the Class A North title and capturing the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV championship – the third sectional title in Malta’s 14 seasons.
The Colts captured the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title for the second straight season with a final score of 297, besting both Old Tappan and Watchung Hills by 14 strokes at Hopewell Valley Golf Club. Junior Jack Well led the with a 4-under 68 while junior Brendan Hansen carded a 75 and junior Randall Lazzaro and senior Michael Paduano each shot a 77 to give the Colts their ninth T.O.C. title in program history. CBA finished the season undefeated at 12-0, capturing its fifth straight Monmouth County title and fifth straight Shore Conference Tournament title in the process.