Manley's Blog

Thursday Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 24, 2009

I’ll put the schedule up on the blog in a little bit, but I wanted to touch on a few of the big games on the schedule for Thursday.

-Freehold Township hosting CBA is the marquee game of the day, featuring the defending SCT champs playing the team everyone thinks is going to win the SCT this year. While Marlboro might have made some doubters out of “everyone,” CBA is still CBA and they will have a target on their backs for the rest of the year and beyond. Freehold Township needs a win to stay in the hunt for the division title, but in this division, they have to at least be relieved they got back on track after an 0-2 start.

With that said, the Pats have to feel good about this game for a few reasons. First, CBA proved to be vulnerable against Marlboro, and while Freehold Twp. probably would have liked to give CBA its first loss, knowing it can be done has to help. Second, CBA didn’t win enough loose balls against Marlboro and against Freehold Township, it’s even more imperative to be strong on 50-50s because of the Pats’ straight up speed up and down the field. This may be a positive for CBA, if only because they got a bit of a wake-up call on Tuesday. Third, Freehold Township beat CBA last year without Ryan Clark while Clark was serving his two-game suspension for drawing a red card. Clark is the real difference between this last year’s team and this year’s team and the Pats should have the confidence to know that what they have is good enough to win. It’s a big game both ways: the Pats can get over .500 and reestablish themselves as contenders in A North, while CBA can’t afford to have two losses right off the bat to the best two teams it plays all year.

-The always entertaining Shore-Rumson rivalry kicks off today with the first of two, this time at Shore. Both teams already have a loss to St. Rose, who’s seized early control of the division, but B Central is still up for grabs this early on. For the loser of this one, however, it will be a steep climb back to the top because it doesn’t look like the four other teams – Point Beach, Asbury Park, Mater Dei and Henry Hudson – are going to be able to give any help. Rumson has a lot of new faces in the starting lineup and might have to scrap past a Shore team with more returning talent. With a strong keeper in Trevor James, they can stay tight and if the Bulldogs put together a couple of goals, they might be able to take advantage of a Blue Devils team that had trouble finishing against St. Rose. Because of the structure of this division – with three top teams and four a tier below – two losses is probably two many to win a division title, making this game a mighty big one.

– Point Boro travels to Toms River to play Monsignor Donovan in a game that will either establish an early favorite in B South or open the race up to about four teams. The Panthers enter play Thursday unbeaten and unscored upon, but that figures to change today with the Griffins strong attack. Connor Yatauro has six goals in the early going, while the rest of the team has combined for five. Bryant Avalos and Corey Crowe are tough in the midfield and shoulf match up well with Boro’s Al Graziano and Tori Remondelli. If it becomes a shootout, I like Mon Don, but a controlled, low-scoring game should go Boro’s way.

– It’s do-or-die time for Manalapan against Colts Neck today. The Braves have had a great run this decade, but at 1-4, another loss might cripple their postseason chances. Colts Neck is a very skilled team, but with its lack of size, Manalapan might be able to win if they can make it a physical contest. The Braves have been handled in three of their four losses, but their win over Middletown South and close loss to Freehold Township in their last two suggest they might be coming out of it. A win today and Saturday against Middletown North would put Manalapan a 4-3 run through the division away from an SCT berth.

– I find the Toms River South at Toms River East game intriguing. Toms River East has had trouble scoring in its three losses, but outside of a 4-0 loss to Lacey to open the season, the Raiders have been competitive. At 1-3-1, they’ll need to start balancing out the standings with some wins, but they’ve been on the right track since Lacey took it to them. South on the other hand has to be disappointed with its 2-2-1 start with so many good players back from last year. A loss to an inexperienced but improving East team with undefeated Lacey coming to town Saturday could be a recipe for disaster. I won’t call this one a must win for the Indians, but I don’t think they want to play a must-win game against Lacey on Saturday, which is what they would have to do. Plus, with all the ties in soccer, games aren’t must-win as much as they are must-not-lose.

– Two teams to keep an eye on today are Jackson Memorial and Middletown South, both of which are playing against top three teams Toms River North and Marlboro, respectively. Jackson beat North last year and the Jaguars are coming off an overtime win against a tough Toms River South team. They’ll be pumped, just as everyone is, to play this TR North team and they’ve already showed they can beat them. Middletown South is more of a hunch sleeper today because they are playing on the right side of the quintessential trap game of the day. The ingredients are there for an upset. First, Marlboro is coming off an improbable 2-1 win over CBA and might let its guard down. Second, Middletown South has suffered tantalizing losses in all four of its defeats: an especially emotional 3-0 loss to CBA, and one-goal losses to Howell (scored on a direct kick and a pk), Manalapan (scored in the last minute to win) and Colts Neck. Finally, of Marlboro’s five games, they’ve tied Colts Neck, and beat three teams – Freehold Township, Middletown North and CBA – by one goal each. Outside of a 3-1 win over Manalapan, Marlboro has trailed or been tied with every team it has played during the second half.

The Mustangs are a very good team – maybe the best in the Shore Conference – but they haven’t been a juggernaut. This one could be mighty close and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Middletown South pull what would be the upset of the year. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb: I’m calling it. Middletown South will beat Marlboro today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buys some eggs to throw at my own face later tonight.

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One Response

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  1. John said, on September 24, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Worst score to defend in soccer is 2-0. Shore/Rumson game was a good one. Shore Lost the game during a 5 Min melt down in the second half. High School soccer is an 80 Min game, you may dominate 90% of the game as Shore did but a few errors and bang you lose. Trevor James made a great save on a breakaway. It was clear that Shore had more talent on the field but Rumson kept themselves focused and didnt give up. Next game should be another great one.


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