Manley's Blog

Early Week Roundup

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 29, 2009

I got my first look at Monsignor Donovan this year in the Griffins 3-2 win over Toms River East, and I finally got to see Liam Cahill play in Manchester’s 3-2 loss to Toms River South. It’s hard to believe that while covering the beat for all four of Cahill’s years, this is the first look I got of him.

We’ll start with the Manchester midfielder. His best attribute is his strength, which I wasn’t expecting based on what I’ve heard of him. He’s got very good athleticism, which is reflected in his ability to win the vast majority of balls in the air and get to any loose balls around him. To put it simply, he is strong, fast, and works very hard, and that is what to like best about him.

The soccer skills aren’t too bad either. He showed pretty good touch with his passing, although it was hard to tell on the turf. His vision and decisiveness with the ball were both comfortably above average and he hit three firm shots, one of which was a left-footed rocket that found the back of the net.

The couple negatives I found all game was that he might have tried to do too much a couple of times with the ball at his feet and he looked a little gassed in the last few minutes, but with the load he is asked to carry, I’m surprised he didn’t try to go one-on-one more and that he wasn’t keeled over at the conclusion of the game. Overall, he’s in great shape and shows a willingness to play with his teammates and make them better.

In case you couldn’t tell, I was impressed. Cahill is a talented player who also works for everything out on the field. I would put him in the class of Ocean County’s best players along with Todd Webb (TRN), Craig Rutter (Lacey) and Dan Chrashewsky (TRS), with Sean Casey (TRS), Bryant Avalos (MonDon), Connor Yatauro (MonDon), Craig Wagenblast (TRE) and Kris Barr (Brick) on the fringe of the discussion, along with maybe a few others I need another look at like Al Graziano (Point Boro) and Liam Tivenan (Brick Memorial; would be really good on a slightly better team). I’m also interested in watching Ethan Decker, who despite modest numbers, has been impressive down at Southern according to both those I’ve talked to and the overall buzz. Anyway, I think Cahill is the most well-rounded player in all of Ocean County outside of Webb and maybe Rutter and it’ll be interesting to see how he and Manchester fare in the tournaments, assuming they stay healthy and get there.

– Toms River South has put together back-to-back wins to get back over .500, but I’m still a little concerned about them. They have a number of very good players, not to mention some good sophs and freshmen, but their defense leaves a little to be desired. Coming into the season, I thought one of their studs would end up at sweeper, most likely Steve Petrosino, but they’ve played him in the midfield and it looked like some stopper as well. With him in the middle, they have him, Casey, Nogiewich, Chrashewsky and the freshman Dmitri Loizos to form a really dangerous group on the attack. If they can get a little tighter in their own end, this team is going to be a tough out, but as is, the defense needs to improve some.

– Monsignor Donovan looks like its usual strong self. Bo Garrick and Russ Simms are much improved as midfielders and their performance has allowed coach Ken Oliver to move Corey Crowe to sweeper without losing any sleep. Another break for the Griffins has been the emergence of Sean Sullivan as a formidable stopper, the position Connor Yatauro was slated to play to start the season, before moving to forward. Since moving to striker, all Yatauro has done is score a Shore Conference best nine goals and score at least one goal in each of Donovan’s seven games. They’re probably not the defensive team they were last year, but they have quick score ability with Yatauro up top and a good midfield led by Bryant Avalos.

– Toms River East looks the part of a young team right now. They played Donovan evenly over the whole match, but were very flat in the first nine minutes before Wagenblast put one in to tie the game. From there, they played the Griffins even but had a few lapses that cost them the game. At 2-5-1, they’re not that far from being 4-3-1 or thereabouts and the inexperience could be a big reason.

Bob Varga, who was excellent last year and the when I saw him Thursday against TR South, had the worst game I’ve seen him play, which isn’t saying that much by itself considering how good he’s been. But he had a rough day, which will probably be a rarity over the course of a full season.

As for the good, Patrick Varga has been very active for the Raiders, as has fellow sophomore Matt Wedding, who looks like he’ll continue the line of strong outside midfielders at Toms River East.

-We won’t learn much about CBA from its 4-1 win over St. Rose, nor will we learn much about CBA in any of its games until round two against Marlboro.

-As curious as I am to see Southern play against Point Boro tonight, the Brick at TRN game has my name on it for now. I have Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. circled on my calender, when Southern goes to Lacey.

-Another interesting game today is Middletown South-Wall. Midd. South has had some tough luck in its first seven game (1-6) while Wall is 1-2 in its last three. I like Wall, but this is also a good game to measure how good South – and A North – is.

The scoreboard is up on the site, so follow that over the course of the day. I’ll post part one of the notebook this afternoon (A divisions), followed by part two (B divisions) tonight or tomorrow morning. I also plan on handing out players of (last) week somewhere in there. So keep coming and thanks for all the support. I’m told we’ll be going to subscriptions any day now, so enjoy the free stuff while it’s available.

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