Manley's Blog

State Tournament Brackets

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 29, 2009

The brackets are out. Here are the links to each section with a Shore Conference team in it and some quick thoughts on each. I’ll go into much more depth next week, but feel free to start with predictions of your own.

CJ IV

Shore Teams: No. 1 TR North, No. 3 Marlboro, No. 7 Freehold Township, No. 9 Colts Neck, No. 13 Jackson Memorial, No. 15 Howell and No. 16 Middletown North.

Best first-round game (with Shore team): Howell at No. 2 Rancocas Valley

Thoughts: Two things jump off the page in this one for me. The first thing is that the two top seeds have tough games. Middletown North has played well down the stretch and although the loss to Brick is a good sign for North’s sake. But Brick will be geared up for this one while North will be coming off a deep run in the SCT. Howell, meanwhile played very well in A North and is a young team rounding into form. Rancocas is a terrific program and I think they’ll survive, but Howell is going to give them all they can handle in round one.

The other is that I love Freehold Township’s draw. They know Monroe – and vice versa – from the GMC-Shore challenge and if they can get back to playing well, they’ll be playing non-Shore teams until they could potentially see Marlboro for a third time in the semis. I liked Township in the SCT (I picked them to reach the final) but I love them in CJ IV.

CJ III

Shore Teams: No. 2 Freehold, No. 4 Wall, No. 7 Monmouth, No. 8 Holmdel, No. 10 Ocean, No. 11 Lakewood, No. 14 Long Branch, No. 16 Neptune

Best first-round game: Ocean at Monmouth

Thoughts: I was under the impression that Middletown South was going to get in, which would have made for an interesting scenario, with a high-seeded Class A North team unleashed on Group III. I don’t think they would have defeated Princeton, but it would have been interesting.

No team wants to see a division opponent early, so Monmouth and Ocean are probably a little bummed they have to play one another again. But the two have been competitive and it should make for an exciting round-one game.

Holmdel-Princeton will be a good game, but a low-scoring game. I read on mercercountysoccer.com that Princeton had allowed something like four goals all season as of the Wednesday before the cutoff. And we all know about Holmdel’s scoring issues.

If there is a Shore Conference team to feel comfortable about getting to the final, I’ll stick with the top seed Shore seed Freehold. It will be tough to beat Ocean or Monmouth for a third time, but I think they’ve proven themselves against B North. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Hightstown, so I think the could handle them. Wall should get to the semis, but Princeton or Holmdel will be tough outs, especially if they have to travel to Princeton.

CJ II

Shore Teams: No. 1 Raritan, No. 3 Manasquan, No. 4 Shore, No. 9 Rumson-Fair Haven, No. 16 Matawan

Best first-round game: Rumson at Willingboro

Thoughts: I don’t know much about the non-Shore teams to be honest, other than that Delran won the Group last year and some think they are better this year. I have a good feeling about Rumson in the first round, while I think Shore’s toughest game before Raritan will be Summit and not the Spotswood-A.L. Johnson winner.  I see this bracket going chalk through the semis, with Shore and Manasquan both having a chance on the road.

Raritan did not get any help by drawing Matawan. The Rockets outscored the Huskies 6-0 in two games, but while Matawan did not challenge Raritan on the scoreboard, they will challenge them physically. If you recall, Pat Langan reinjured his foot against the Huskies and my guess is, and this is purely speculation, that Raritan coach Ron Poll is more concerned about getting out of that game in one piece than he is about getting out of it at all.

I have to run out to Neptune for the SCT, so I’ll cover South Jersey and the Non-Publics later when I’m done with that. For now, here are the links to each section.

SJ IV

Shore Teams: No. 6 Toms River South, No. 10 Toms River East, No. 13 Southern

Best first-round game: Southern at Lenape

Thoughts: Southern gets a tough draw in a Lenape program that always runs out a quality team, but Ethan Decker is dangerous, especially if you don’t see him coming. He’s been playing really well lately and Lenape better figure out where he is at on the field.

TR South and North play toss-up games in the first round, but I really like South to win round one and to give Cherry Hill West a run. The Indians didn’t play great against Raritan on Tuesday, but they hung in there and have proven themselves against good teams. I like them to make a run this year. You can’t count out East, but I think they might be a year or two away from getting back tot he sectional final. Craig Wagenblast make have one more run in his before his fine HS career ends.

SJ III

Shore Teams: No. 1 Central, No. 2 Point Boro, No. 7 Lacey, No. 8 Manchester, No. 16 Brick

Best first-round game: Brick at Central. At first glance I and many other people might call for an upset because of the A South vs. B South dynamic, but I think Central will be okay in this one. It’s still a scary draw, because Brick plays tough defense and has an strong keeper in Stephan DeCorso.

The bad news for Central, assuming you think I’m right, is that I see Manchester going to the semifinals. The first round game is always dicey, but I think they owe Central one and they are a little better than Brick.

On the opposite side of the bracket, Lacey could see Point Boro in the second round, and I do think the A South team will come out of that one. The Lions got a nice win over Howell Thursday and Point Boro is banged up so I think Lacey can put a couple of wins together to set up a semifinal game against Seneca, in all likelihood. While Lacey is on the tougher side of the bracket, I’d give them the best chance to win the section of any Shore team, because I think they’re the best of the bunch, match-ups be damned.

SJ II

Shore Teams: No. 9 Barnegat

Thoughts: The Bengals should be fired up for their first ever state tourny appearance and with some senior experience on the roster, they’ll be hungry enough. They may be able to get a game, and that would be a nice season for them. Woodstown will be too much if they make it through Audobon.

SJ I

Shore Teams: No. 15 Point Beach

Thoughts: I’m sure Point Beach is surprised they get a chance to play in states, but with a young team, it’s a chance for the Gulls to get better going forward. They will play fellow Ocean County, but non Shore Conference team New Egypt, the second seed that should have a good chance to win the bracket.

NPA South

Shore Teams: No. 2 CBA, No. 4 Monsignor Donovan, No. 8 St. John Vianney

Best first-round game: Bishop Ahr at SJV

Thoughts: St. John Vianney could surprise St. Augustine based on how good they looked early in the season, but they’ll have to rev it back up to keep up with the top seed, that’s assuming they get by Bishop hardy-har-Ahr.

Obviously, the team to watch in this bracket is CBA and while they get to play a home game, essentially, in the sectional final, they will have to deal with a couple of tough teams in St. Joe’s Metuchen and Notre Dame before getting to Holmdel High School. While the road isn’t easy, CBA is the most talented team in the bracket and they should be playing Pingry for a NPA title on Nov. 17

NPB South

Shore Teams: No. 1 St. Rose, No. 8 Mater Dei

Thoughts: St. Rose is always a threat to win the bracket and now they’ll have that shot as a No. 1 seed. Gloucester Catholic is a tough matchup in the semis, but this is a better St. Rose team than last year. Last year’s team got hot at the right time though and we’ll find out in short order if St. Rose is on their game in November.

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