Manley's Blog

SCT Quarterfinal Wrap

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 28, 2009

After sitting through 100 minutes of soccer and the eight penalty kicks to follow in Marlboro’s win over Colts Neck, I was naturally late to the Raritan-TR South game and missed all three first half goals. Therefore, I didn’t have much good video to post, nor did I feel like I saw enough of the game to write an actual game story, but there’s always the blog.

Pat Langan scored two more goals that turned out to be the difference in Raritan’s 2-1 win over the Indians. Steve Petrosino got TR South off to a good start by scoring following a corner kick, but Raritan really took to South for the rest of the game, and it started with Langan. The senior standout played forward and has become a goal-scoring machine at the spot. He was a threat as a midfielder all of last year, but up top, he’s a goal waiting to happen.

Raritan had to shots for the game at 16-3 and I only saw one TRS shot while I was there, so that could be correct. The Indians’ best chance to tie the game came following another corner kick, and the ball ended up near the foot of freshman Dmitri Loizos – who scored the winner against Freehold Twp. on Saturday – with daylight in the goal in front of him, but he couldn’t get his foot on the ball.

I’ve given a lot of attention to Marlboro’s propensity to play overtime games, which is unrivaled by any other team in the Shore, but Raritan has shown a certain affinity for OT as well. The Rockets have played five OT games, going 3-0-2. The Marlboro matchup is a close one and it features a sound, deliberate, composed Marlboro group against a 100-mile-per-hour ground onslaught that Raritan features. They both play well on the ground, but Marlboro is a little more controlled, while Raritan can be on top of your net within the blink of an eye. More on that in the “official” preview.

Toms River North wins in dramatic fashion on Ryan Groffie’s rocket from 15 yards out with 58 seconds left. According to coach Dave Mitchell, Manasquan hit the post when Ben Drake’s cross redirected toward the goal, but hit just wide. Whew.

Groffie’s a very good player, a guy who fits at the outside back or the outside mid, and he’s an active player who seems to get involved in a big play each game. For those of you who watch the video highlights on the sight, he hit the post in the tie against Lacey, a game that feels like it was two years ago at this point.

Manasquan through its usual dose of counters and runs with Drake, but TR North’s defense held strong. Mitchell was complementary of his team’s effort, which should be worth something because he’s always a coach who’s looking for something to get better at rather than toot his team’s horn.

“Reaching this point is a great accomplishment with any team, but this team and these seniors want to win the whole thing,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to be a little bit better finishing goals but the way these guys are playing and executing the gameplan, I think they;ll be able to play with anybody. My concern is still that we’re a little young and those sophomores have to remember to be patient, because we’re at the point of the tournament when teams can kill you if you’re not disciplined.”

Marlboro and Colts Neck got a game story from me, and it deserves every word written about it, because it was a thriller. Marlboro got the better of play as I’ve seen some people say, but Colts Neck got some good chances as well and were right there the whole game. Bill Kallas played a very good game at sweeper and James Sheehan was his usual solid self in net. Marco Guzman also made some big plays at forward, scoring the goal and setting up a great look by Nick Chiappone in overtime on a nifty pass (it’s in the highlights). Brendan Murphy also made some nice runs up top as well. The Cougars have looked much better in the last couple of games, and it’ll be interesting to see how they bounce back a week from today in the first round of the state tournament.

Marlboro actually made me more inclined to expect a victory over Raritan with its win Tuesday. Maybe it’s just because they didn’t play well in either of the last two games I saw them, but I forgot what a composed, controlled team they can be. Colts Neck doesn’t always force the issue by applying overly intense pressure, but they play hard and Marlboro just knocked it around and waited for its chances. Alan Konovalov played a very good game and could have had three or four goals if some shots went down. The goal also started with a really nice ball from Steven Curtis, who is definitely one of the unsungs on this team. They were also playing without Jake Katz in the centermid, who was out with a quad bruise. I was all ready to pick Raritan to win and reach the final, but now…I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to let them decide it on the field.

CBA’s pretty good, eh? I know when it comes to a blowout, it takes two to tango and Freehold wasn’t good by its standard, but CBA, over its last several games has shown an ability to score whenever it wants. Scott Thomsen has played great since he got back from California and he hit a beautiful left-footer for CBA’s third goal. Matt Gragnano continues to dominate the goal-scoring column, putting up two more today. Krachie and Romano control the who field by themselves. The Colts had given up some goals before Tuesday and that might be a bit of a red flag, but it’s not a major deal if they pound the net like they’ve been doing.

I saw some questions about whether CBA will win Non-Public A. The answer: they’ll be playing for in the championship. This is the best Non-Public A South team I’ve seen in the short time I’ve covered the sport, even better than a very good St. Augustine team that beat the Colts last year.

If you’ll remember, I picked TR North to win the tournament before it started, and I’m currently trying to figure out a way to justify picking against CBA. I did reserve the right to change my pick, but I’d love to be able to stick with my pick. CBA is making that hard right now.

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