Manley's Blog

Raritan wins division, week off

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 13, 2009

The above post title might be a little misleading because Raritan would have had a week off even if they lost 5-0 Monday, but there’s a big difference going into a week off after a win than after a loss. Had Raritan been healthy, one might worry about complacency setting in, but the Rockets are banged up and need to get healthy. Plus, they haven’t been as sharp as they’d like in the last few weeks, so I think they’ll have plenty to work on amongst themselves.

So with a healthy – or at least healthier – Pat Langan, who looked like his old self Monday, how far can a Raritan team at full strength go? Well I think the last two weeks have shown what two tough weeks of any game show about a team like Raritan: They’re talented, but beatable. I also think there is a lot to be said for a team that is beatable but not beaten. The Rockets have done it all: recovered from deficits, blown leads, injuries, lack of possession, you name it. For the next week, now, Raritan will try to learn to minimize those things rather than recover for them, but it’s nice to see a team with the kind of expectations Raritan has show the intestinal fortitude necessary to win these games. It will suit them well in a playoff scenario.

Manasquan worried me when I saw Freehold Township manhandle them in preseason, but I think they’ve done some things to quiet the concerns a little bit. First of all, they looked a little bit better in their possession game than they have in the past, although they did not win the time of possession. Against the bigger teams, improving possession is a must, because they can’t expect to just bang the ball to Drake and beat the big A North teams. It almost worked against Raritan a couple of weeks ago and even though it didn’t result in a win, I thought Manasquan was better today than it was in the tie.

I read someone say over on the APP chat that Ben Drake lost the POY today. Okay, so he didn’t score a goal, but he did what he does every game. Not many people score every game. He seemed to check back more than usual trying to get something going and he started started a few runs for other players in addition to his usual dose of runs made by Drake himself. On the goal, he was the first person to get a head on Garrett Cookson’s free kick before Nick Lustrino put the ball in the net. So while he didn’t score, I didn’t think Drake helped or hurt his POY case Monday. Maybe his team losing hurts perception of his season a little, but I try not to buy into that at this point. He’s still my front-runner for reasons I’ll lay out in a feature story I’m working on for the end of the week.

The other Monday action featured Southern getting a major win over Jackson, while the other side of the story says its a major loss for Jackson. Both are still alive for postseason, but will probably reach into the bag of tricks to get the necessary wins. I’m checking out Southern against Lacey after the Marlboro-CBA game Tuesday.

St. Rose over Ocean 4-0, putting Ocean’s postseason hopes in serious jeopardy and getting the Roses  their requisite nondivisional win. Shore wins 6-1 over Point Beach in a tune-up for their B Central finale against rival Rumson. If Shore wins, I think we can take them seriously as a dangerous first round SCT draw.

CBA-Marlboro on the Rec. Center Turf should be a great game to watch Tuesday, but it’s not the only game with big implications:

– Howell tries to get back to .500 against a Middletown South team that is gaining a head of steam with a win over Manalapan and tie against CBA last week.

– RBC and Holmdel square off with each team trying to keep their SCT hopes alive. RBC can make up a loss by beating Point Boro next Monday, but Holmdel has no margin for error and must start a three-game losing streak against a Caseys team that has defeated the Hornets three straight times.

– Brick faces a virtual must-win-or-tie situation against Toms River East.

– Toms River North can wrap up the division with a win over Brick Memorial.

– Jackson Memorial tries to get back to .500 against Toms River South, whom the Jags stunned at TRS in the first meeting.

– Freehold tries to remain perfect in B North against a Monmouth team that might have played them tougher than anyone else so far.

– Point Boro tries to avoid a slip up on the road against an improved Lakewood team.

Scoreboard is up. Check that and the blog for updates.

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2 Responses

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  1. guest said, on October 13, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t want to take anything away from 12 goals and zero assists, but how can a kid be considered the Player of the Year when he wouldn’t be the best player on at least 4 and maybe 5 or 6 teams in A-North? I think Drake is having a great year but to consider him at the same level of at least half a dozen kids in A-North (not even factoring in Webb) just completely overlooks the difference in the level of competition. Manasquan “fixed” things from the preseason (when they were shutout by Marlboro and FT) by not playing teams of that quality again.

    Ben Drake absolutely gets my vote as a first team All-Shore forward, but he is not the best soccer player in the Shore Conference.

  2. mattmanley said, on October 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I probably wouldn’t call Matt Gragnano the best player in the Shore Conference, but you have to put him in the player of the year discussion because he is the leading goal-scorer in A North. That’s the classic argument between “best player” and “best season” when picking POY and I think I’ve always been a best season kinda guy (George Quintano over Bethel; RC over Gorskie).

    I actually think Drake would score a ton of goals in A North as well, as long as he were on one of the better teams. If Manasquan was in A North, he’d probably have about five or six, but if you put him on Freehold Township, I think he’d still lead the Shore in scoring because they play to their forwards a lot as well.

    I think people are too quick to dismiss players in lesser divisions. Sure, their teams wouldn’t be as good playing in better divisions, but how many players can really play on lesser teams and still be POY worthy? If you stuck RC on a decent lower division team like Rumson last year, is he still POY? Only if they were in the SCT quarters or semis and won a sectional.

    Manasquan is not as good as the big A North teams, but Drake’s season warrants serious POY consideration to this point and I’ll let the tournaments prove me wrong before I dismiss him.


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