What You Need to Know Heading Into the 2022 New Jersey High School Soccer Season
In a typical August, the high school soccer season would be about to kick off its tryout period and scrimmages would be around the corner. This season, however, the NJSIAA soccer calendar does not officially start until Aug. 22, so anyone looking for their soccer fix will have to wait another week.
Since we here at Shore Sports Network are also itching to get started, we’re going to get a jump on things with a broad look at the Shore Conference landscape in 2022. There is a new divisional realignment and some dates on the calendar to look forward to already.
First, let’s have a look at how the six Shore Conference divisions look for the upcoming year.
Class A North
Christian Brothers Academy (Boys Only)
In: Freehold Boro
Out: Long Branch
Class A Central
Red Bank Catholic
Trinity Hall (Girls Only)
In: Wall, Trinity Hall
Class A South
Toms River East
Toms River North
Toms River South
Class B North
St. John Vianney
In: Long Branch, Ocean
Out: Freehold Boro, Wall
Class B Central
Point Pleasant Beach
Out: Mater Dei Prep
Class B South
Point Pleasant Boro
It’s still a little too early to tell exactly what the ramifications of this year’s realignment will be. Long Branch has been one of the stronger Class A North teams in recent years while Freehold Boro has struggled to keep up in Class B North, so it stands to reason that Class B North is getting stronger and Class A North a big weaker.
Wall leaving Class B North takes a powerhouse out of that division, but the Crimson Knights are trading places with Ocean – another program with plenty of recent success on its resume. That trade could very well be a wash, especially with both teams replacing a lot of talent from last season.
The only other noteworthy change is that Class B Central is down to six teams in the wake of Mater Dei shutting its doors for good. It is a sobering vacancy on the schedule for the many people in the area who grew up with Mater Dei as a vibrant member of the Shore Conference, but it’s also an opportunity for teams like St. Rose, Ranney and Point Beach to pick up opponents that will help them boost their profiles and prepare them for postseason time.
With the division alignment established, here are some dates to keep in mind as we navigate through the season.
First Day of Practice: Aug. 22
First Day of Scrimmages: Aug. 29
Opening Day: Sept. 8
Shore Conference Tournament: TBA
NJSIAA Tournament Cutoff: Oct. 22
NJSIAA Tournament Seeds Released: Oct. 24
NJSIAA Public Tournament Dates
First Round: Oct. 27
Sectional Quarterfinals: Oct. 31
Sectional Semifinals: Nov. 2
Sectional Finals: Nov. 5
State Semifinals: Nov. 9
State Finals: Nov. 13
First Round: Oct. 31
Sectional Quarterfinals: Nov. 2
Sectional Semifinals: Nov. 5
Sectional Finals: Nov. 9
State Finals: Nov. 13
If it looks like the NJSIAA Tournament is starting earlier, ending earlier and being played at a feverish pace, you are not imagining things. The boys state tournament will kick off on the last Thursday of October rather than the last Monday of October or first Monday of November. The last three rounds of the sectional tournaments, meanwhile, will be completed in just six days, including just one day off between the sectional quarterfinals and semifinals.
That timetable also applies to the girls, with their tournament schedule operating one day in advance (opening round on Oct. 26 and state finals on Nov. 12).
The public and non-public championships will also now be on the same day, which means those of us (read: media) who would like to watch every state final will likely have to make a decision come Nov. 13.
The altered NJSIAA Tournament schedule will also require the Shore Conference Tournament to make some changes, which have not been officially settled yet. In recent years, the tournament was seeded in the middle of the second week of October and began on the third Saturday of the month. The championship game, meanwhile has either been on the final Wednesday or Thursday of October, but that won’t be the case this year with the NJSIAA Tournament set to begin on Oct. 27.
Most teams in the conference have their final divisional games scheduled for the final week of October, so it is likely the Shore Conference Tournament will start a few days earlier this season and be completed by no later than Monday, Oct. 24 in order to give teams enough time to prepare for the NJSIAA Tournament, but the details are not yet finalized.
So looking at the entire picture, the high school soccer season in New Jersey lasts from Aug. 22 to Nov. 13, which is 84 calendar days in total and 67 from the start of the regular season. For comparison's sake, football practice begins Aug. 15, regular season games can begin Aug. 26 and the state championships will be played on Dec. 4 -- a total of 112 days and 101 from the first day of games through the final day of the state finals.