Manley's Blog

Three Undefeateds stay Perfect Wednesday

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 1, 2009

This week started a little on the quiet side with a lot of interdivisional matches along with some one-sided division games, but the pace picked up a little bit Wednesday with a few big games on the schedule and a few eye-opening results.

Let’s start with Freehold’s 1-0 win over Wall, which is the game I actually saw. The story I wrote for the website pretty much tells the story of the game: Pira and Castruita were too much for Wall’s defense – which played with a limited Matt Melton – and kept the pressure on goalie Zach Zoller all game, even though Castruita’s goal was all they could muster. Tip of the cap to Zoller, who made some tough saves and also got some help from the crossbar early in the game.

Freehold’s backs played well and goalie Alex Gentile didn’t have to make many saves. The midfield played a decent game, mostly in their work winning loose balls and staying in front of the ball. Offensively, the gameplan was to get it to the forwards, and guys in the midfield like Ryan Sullivan, Eric Fitzpatrick, Rob Soto and Evan Tannenbaum got the ball and got it up top. Freehold would probably tell you it can play a cleaner game in the middle of the field, but they played a pretty good game and it won them a big game which is the number one priority. On Wednesday, there was little doubt who the best team on the field was.

In Wall’s defense, they are banged up quite a bit right now, but one of the characteristics that was supposed to work in Wall’s favor this year was its depth. That depth couldn’t overcome an injury to Matt Melton, who saw limited action at outside fullback due to a pulled groin. Center midfielder Ian Whelen, who is probably Wall’s best player, hurt his ankle last week and is still getting over it as well, and James Walsh, who got off to such a great start before getting hurt last year, has yet to play because of an ankle sprain. He’ll be back next week and that should be a huge lift for Wall.

RBC 1, SJV 0

The biggest win of the day for a team looking to improve its playoff hopes. If RBC was going to make a play for the SCT and NPA Tournaments, it needed to beat Matawan and at least one of either SJV, Holmdel, Manasquan and Raritan the second time through the division. Matawan could surprise the Caseys, but if they are going to make the playoffs, the Huskies are a team they need to beat. If they do win one of those other three games on top of the Vianney win, that puts them at at least 4-6 in the division with a Mater Dei win outside the division and interdivsional games remaining against Rumson, Red Bank, Henry Hudson and Point Boro, all winnable games. They still have to go out and do it, but RBC put itself on the right track with Wednesday’s win.

As for on the field, that’s four in a row for the Caseys and they’re doing it with defense. Against Vianney, coach George Black put junior defender Chris Mackenrodt on SJV’s John Boylan all game and it couldn’t have worked out any better. As Black put it, goalie Matt Bailey won the game for them against Holmdel last Friday. Wednesday, it was the whole defense. It doesn’t hurt to get a dramatic goal in the 98th minute from Matt Rider, but holding Vianney down for that long is the main ingredient. That’s four scoreless games in a row and don’t forget, RBC gave up a single goal to Vianney in the first meeting and only two to a very dangerous Raritan team. If the defense plays at this level, that goal of getting two more division wins is probably too modest.

Red Bank 2, Ocean 1

While this win doesn’t really put the Bucs in the playoff picture just yet, it does put Ocean (3-4) in trouble of falling out of the playoff race. But let’s talk about the good. Red Bank (2-6) has suffered some tough losses, including overtime losses to Ocean and Neptune that, if they went the other way, could have the Bucs in the middle of the SCT hunt. They were on the right side of the score today, and it was a senior, Bobby Maggs, who played the role of hero by scoring the game-winning goal. Red Bank is a team that is built to peak next year, but they have a group of hard-nosed seniors like Maggs, Chris Helstern, Matt Mikulski and Oscar Salinas who are doing their best get a jump on winning this year.

Manasquan 1, Holmdel 0

Manasquan keeps rolling, moving to 4-0-1 since the head-scratching loss to Matawan. The big shock is that Ben Drake didn’t score the goal. It’s nice to see they let someone else take the pk, especially a guy like Garrett Cookson, who does so much for them without scoring.

I don’t know what more to say about Holmdel. It’s baffling. They are so much better than this record, but that’s not one of the criteria for making the postseason. If you asked me the most likely Group III school from the Shore to win a sectional title, I would have given you the Hornets (I’ll give you Lacey now). But here they are, 1-6 and starting to wonder where the season went. It has to be agonizing and I feel for coach John Nacarlo and the kids, especially seniors Pat Strickland, John Pimpinella, Nick Conforti and Ashwin Kambhampati.

I’m going to take a trip down my personal memory lane and put on my coach Norman Dale shoes at the same time and give the motivational speech. When I was a senior in HS, my baseball team started 1-6, including a game in which we blew a 7-1 lead after the fourth inning. It was a nightmare. But we won five of seven to get to 6-8 with four games left before the cutoff. Then we lost 1-0 in the County Tournament and 4-3 to an opponent I’d like to say was inferior, followed by a win over the defending CJ III champs and an 11-1 win over a team that 10-runned us the first time. 8-10 at the cutoff. No ticky, no laundry. And that team was not even close to as good at baseball as Holmdel is at soccer this year. It’s doable. All I’ll say is that while those first seven games are probably what cost us the season, the two losses in the last four games are the ones that hurt. The point is, a few games the other way will make a team forget.

Long Branch 2, Neptune 1

How about the Wave? Three straight wins have them at .500 and they’re a young team gaining some confidence with each game. With Freehold, Wall, Ocean and Monmouth still on the schedule, finishing it off will not be easy, but if the Wave steal one of those and beat Red Bank, that’s 7-8. The Wave play Point Beach and Raritan before the cutoff out of division, so they might want to pick up a game or pray for rain on Oct. 19 when they head to Raritan.

Big Three in B Central win

Not really news, other than the fact that I guess Rumson only beat Point Beach 1-0. Those three are miles ahead of the pack and I for one, wouldn’t be surprised if they end up tied. Right now, you have to like St. Rose, but Shore played them pretty well considering the 4-0 score and Rumson hung around with the Roses as well. But realistically, St. Rose only has to win either the Rumson game or the Shore game this Friday to win the division.

Thursday Stories

The first matchup between 1 vs. 2 this year (outside of CBA’s preseason game with TR North) goes down at Marlboro with Freehold Township visiting the top-ranked Mustangs. Part of me actually wants to go see teams I haven’t seen rather than marquee matchups, but this matchup is too marquee to miss. Freehold Twp. had a shot to beat Marlboro in the last meeting, leading 1-0 heading in to the final 20 minutes, but like they have so many times, the Stangs pulled it out. It’s hard to keep winning one-goal games, which Marlboro has done four times already, but who knows? Maybe they storm through the division the second time, a possibility considering their ability to control games. Despite being 20 seconds away from a loss to CBA, Marlboro has easily been the best team this year and scary as it sounds, they might be getting better.

Other key games include the always spirited Howell-Manalapan match, Toms River East makes its last stand against No. 7 Lacey, Central visits Point Boro in a battle of one-loss teams in B South, and Jackson Memorial, winners of three out of its last four, tries to keep it rolling against the improved Southern team.

Enjoy and check in before you go to bed for scores and coverage of Marlboro-Freehold Twp.

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