Manley's Blog

10 in ’10

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 30, 2009

It’s not too early to look ahead to 2010 is it?

One of the questions heading into 2009 was could the rest of the Shore Conference gain any ground on the Class A North powerhouses and while I think most people would agree that A North wasn’t quite as far ahead of the rest of the Conference, the SCT showed that Class A North is still the top division by a comfortable margin.

Heading into 2010 however, I’m seeing a full-fledged comeback for the rest of the Shore Conference. Toms River South’s state title and Toms River North’s sectional title in A North’s bracket was the beginning of a Toms River takeover of the Shore Conference and Class A North’s most junior-heavy team is moving out of the division. Before we take a look at a premature top 10 for 2010, let’s look at the new divisions.

Class A North: Same group minus Colts Neck, which might have been the preseason favorite to win the division if the Cougars came back. If Thomsen is back, CBA is still the favorite, but this will be a wild year with six teams – Middletown South looks like it might take a step back in talent next year – that have legitimate shots to win it.

Class A Central: Red Bank Catholic and Manasquan are out, Red Bank Regional and Rumson-Fair Haven are in, which makes A Central a tad weaker next year. Holmdel is the best returning group, but the competition won’t be as strong as it was this year with Raritan graduating most of its team and Manasquan leaving for Class C Central.

Class A South: Brick and Lacey leave for Class B South. This will be the Toms River division, with the three TR schools taking the top three spots. Southern will stay in the mix while Jackson gets back in the hunt as well.

Class B North: Wall and Red Bank are gone, Colts Neck and Red Bank Catholic join the party. Overall, the division is probably a little better off in talent in the short term with the shuffle, but losing Wall makes this division a little less interesting. Colts Neck should win it with no problem, but keep an eye on RBC, Monmouth and of course, defending champion Freehold.

Class B Central: Same division minus Rumson. Losing Rumson depletes a division that was already light on competition for St. Rose and Shore. Both schools graduate a lot, but they should still be the two best teams by a very wide margin.

Class B South: Jackson Liberty, Point Boro, Monsignor Donovan and Lakewood are gone, Brick and Lacey come in. B South got more of a makeover than any of the established divisions and I can’t quite tell if the division is better or not. Brick and Lacey should be good teams, but Donovan and Point Boro were probably the better duo of teams last year. Central should be the favorite, but this is a hard division to figure right now.

Class C Central: The Shore Conference’s newest division includes Wall, Manasquan, Point Boro, Monsignor Donovan, Lakewood, and Jackson Liberty. Manasquan and Monsignor Donovan lose a lot to graduation, Point Boro should be good again, Lakewood will be slightly better and Jackson Liberty will be much better. All that being said, Wall might not lose in this division next year.

So, what will the top 10 look like, assuming every team brings back all the players it can (read: Thomsen at CBA and Davis at Holmdel)?

1. Holmdel – Loaded roster of seniors, but will I have the stones to officially rank them preseason No. 1 next fall?
2. Toms River South – State champs return a strong senior class.
3. Toms River North – Mariners return 10 position players with significant experience; will need to find a goalie.
4. CBA – Colts will be a very junior heavy team with Thomsen and Thorsheim the list.
5. Colts Neck – This might be a conservative ranking; Cougars return excellent senior class.
6. Howell – Riccio is a big loss, but it’s the only loss.
7. Marlboro – The nine senior starters at the end of the year is misleading; plenty of returning talent to make another run.
8. Toms River East – Junior-heavy team next year, but they won this year with a sophomore-heavy team.
9. Freehold Township – Next year is when we’ll find out how deep the talent in the Pats program runs.
10. Wall – James Walsh leads a strong core of seniors for the Crimson Knights.

Watch out for: Middletown North, St. John Vianney, Central, Southern, Jackson Memorial

Yes, folks, 2010 will be a down year for Class A North…and they still have four teams in the top 10.

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Purchasing Video

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 29, 2009

I’ve had a lot of inquiries from people about possibly buying a copies of the highlights from the website to own. The only way I figured this would be possible was to make DVD yearbooks for each team, which I am in the process of doing. I have not yet ironed out the details as to how I will collect and distribute the highlights, but there will be copies available starting this coming week. With the holidays rolling around, these would make a great gift. Here is an initial pricing scale. Just be aware that the prices may change upon inquiry by the customer.

Team Highlights from the entire season: $50
Individual Game Highlight DVD: $35
Individual Player Highlight DVD: $30

I will have yearly highlights for every team available and anyone who wants an individual game or individual player highlights, I will custom make those DVDs upon request.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING ANY OF THOSE OPTIONS OR HAVE ANOTHER REQUEST PLEASE EMAIL ME AT: mmanley21@gmail.com and tell me your name and which team/player/game you’d like. I will reply with what else I’ll need from you as far as info. For all I know, I’ll be personally delivering these to your house, so it may just be an address and a phone number, but for now, I’d just like to get an idea of how many people are interested.

Live Chat Finale

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 29, 2009

We’ll have our last live chat Monday at 8 p.m. on the topic of All-Shore and next year. I’m not expecting as much of a turnout as the first couple chats with the season over and all, but I at least want to give people a chance to ask me about the All-Shore selections. I plan on posting an early forecast on next year before the chat to spark some possible discussion, so keep an eye out for that over the next 24 hours.

All-Shore Teams

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 24, 2009

The All Shore Media All-Shore teams and all the postseason awards, features, etc. will be posted by Wednesday morning and we’ll have a live chat about it next week, probably on Monday. In the meantime, feel free to post any questions, concerns or criticisms on the comment section of this post. The teams were as difficult as ever to pick, so I’m sure they’ll be some issues to discuss. I also got a lot most of the coaches’ all-division selections, so I’ll be sure to post those as well. There will be a lot of stuff posted to the website, so if you don’t see it at first glance, just keep looking.

The Grand Finale

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 20, 2009

Group IV Final
At The College of New Jersey
Toms River South vs. Clifton, 5:30 p.m.

I’m one of the few people actually liked the Seinfeld finale and thought it was an appropriate end to the series. Most people were expecting an hour-plus of the greatest episodes of the series all fused into one super episode. Instead, it basically just rounded up a bunch of characters and took the main cast through the most unlikely, far-fetched story possible.

I thought this worked fine. The show captured a lot of the nuances that made the show great and visited and revisited some of the show’s best characters. The story of the show was almost secondary. Regardless of whether or not the finale lived up to its high expectations was irrelevant because the point of the finale was to celebrate the life of the series. With that said, I understand why people didn’t like it. It was pretty clear that Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David knew that this was the biggest finale in the history of television (still is) and that they had a little over an hour to give it an appropriate send off. When you have so many ideas and such a small time frame in which to blend them and make them a classic piece of work, you end up driving yourself crazy and it can get cluttered. You don’t want to leave anything in your bag of tricks, but emptying that bag can do more harm than good. Larry and Jerry might have worried too much about emptying the bag rather than sticking with what worked.

Asking Toms River South to end its run through the Group IV tournament in grand fashion would be like asking Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld to write a series finale of Seinfeld that went down as the best episode ever. It’s just too much to ask, and the more they stress about making the ending perfect, the easier it will be to screw it up. So if you’re Toms River South entering this game, you can’t worry about making it the most memorable game of the playoffs, because there’s no way it will be. It can’t be.

In talking to coach Ed Leibe, it sounds like his guys have a great perspective on things as they head into this game. When I asked them what’s driving them to play like this, he simply said, “They’re just playing.” That just about says it all when you go into such a major setting, like a championship game. You can do all the game-planning you want, but the best plan is to just go out and play the game and believe it’s going to work. There’s no reason to think Toms River South will try to do anything differently in this game.

I’m supposed to have an idea about these games, so simply saying that “Toms River South has to believe,” and calling it a key to the game isn’t quite good enough for me. They are playing against a Clifton team that will be playing in its third straight Group IV final. The Mustangs tied Manalapan two years ago and lost to the Rancocas Valley powerhouse last year, and they have to feel like it’s finally their time. They have yet to allow a goal in the tournament, which is interesting because Manalapan had not allowed a goal before running into Clifton two years ago. They are a tough defensive team and they have a superstar midfielder in junior Oscar Gonzalez, who has been arguably the team’s best player since he first stepped on the field two years ago. This will be his third state final in three years and I’d expect him to shine.

Toms River South has become more dangerous with each round, with their goal outputs by round going as follows: 1, 2, 2, 3, 4. The team is getting better with each game, even if it’s not winning more decisively with each game. Dealing with Gonzalez in the midfield will be a challenge, but scoring appears to be even more of a challenge against the Clifton defense. One aspect of Toms River South you have to like is that they move the ball quickly, whether in transition or building it up from the back. When the game is going TR South’s way, it looks like a basketball game – both teams just go back and forth down the field and there are a lot of chances. The question for South is can they dictate this tempo. Personally, I think the reason they’ve been so good late in the game is because the last 10 minutes of the game have a way of playing at a fast pace, which is when South is at its best.

Tom O’Neill will get the nod in goal, continuing the alternation between Giacomo Leibe and O’Neill. It’s more about defense most of the time, but O’Neill has made some big stops during the postseason and he’ll have a chance to make a few more Friday.

Now, onto the pick. I’d like to first say that I wanted to pick Clifton to avoid putting the same hex on TR South that I put on Marlboro and all three teams I picked on Tuesday (CBA, St. Rose and TR North, all losers). Then I thought that picking against them for that reason might be too transparent to the soccer gods, so I had to actually convince myself that Clifton was going to win the game. So, Clifton will win the game, and here’s why. This game is all about tempo and establishing tempo is all about poise. Being poised during the opening minutes of a game like this, as we’ve seen over the last few days, is a lot easier if you’ve been here before. So, I expect Clifton to threaten early and Toms River South to be playing from behind for the third straight game. You know what else we’ve seen three games in a row? Overtime. Do you know what happened in those three overtimes? TR South won. Since I’m more of a probability guy than a patterns guy, I don’t think a team can win every game in this fashion. Unless South gets an early cushion, the ride ends one eye-popping win short.

The Pick: Clifton 3-1. You’re welcome fellas.

Live Chat

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 19, 2009

Live Chat tomorrow at 9 p.m., which means I’ll be DVRing The Office. Keep in mind the RBC girls game is tomorrow and I will be there, so if you want to talk about that game at all, we can do that too. But the topics of interest will be TRS, the top 10/20 and All Shore, which I’m just about done with and will come out in our newspaper Monday and on the website by Tuesday.

Click Here for Live Chat

TR South wins thriller, sun sets in West

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 18, 2009

What else did you expect? Toms River South keeps its improbable run through the Group IV playoffs alive with a wild 4-3 overtime victory over crosstown rival Toms River North that defeats a very tough field in the “Game of the Year Category.” What’s that you say? They play one more game? Okay, well maybe it’s not the game of the year yet.

To recap, Dan Chrashewsky scored the game-winning goal 1:50 into overtime after North’s Tanner Sica scored with 22 seconds left in regulation to send it to OT. Chrash hit a shot from around the top of the 18 that was well-placed and had enough on it to get past Kevin Meinert.

Chrashewsky had a hand in all four TRS goals, scoring the first goal of the night for South and assisting on two others. His first goal tied the game at 1, answering Rafael Vergara’s goal that put TRN ahead early. TR South took a 2-1 lead on a goal by John Nogiewich and Todd Webb tied the game with a second half goal. Steve Petrosino scored his ninth goal to give the Indians the lead late in the second half and Toms River South looked like it might win its least thrilling game of the tournament until Sica’s goal.

Toms River South has won now won three straight overtime games after it had won its first two games with game-winning goals in the final 30 seconds.

I didn’t see the game, we didn’t have anyone at the game and I couldn’t even get Ed Leibe on the horn, so I only have to judge by the scoring, but how about Dan Chrashewsky and Steve Petrosino? Chrash has been outstanding for two years now and he’s finishing his high school career with a state tournament performance most players can only dream of. He’s up to 15 goals and 16 assists for the year, and while his three playoff goals aren’t eye-popping, two of them have been golden goals and the other came Tuesday as part of a two-goal effort to beat his team’s crosstown rival to reach the school’s first ever state final. Not bad.

Petrosino, in my opinion, is the number one reason the Indians are here. Sure Chrash, Sean Casey and John Nogiewich are all comparable players, but Petrosino’s breakout seemed to coincide with the team shaking off its early-season funk. Petrosino scored one goal in Toms River South’s fist six games, in which the Indians went 2-3-1. Since, Petrosino has scored eight times, insluding two goals in Toms River South’s win over Lacey that pulled them up to 3-3-1 and started the run. And for those who may have forgotten, Petrosino is a stopper with those numbers. All of his numbers have also come with an improvement by the South defensive unit, so Petrosino has been able to create offense while anchoring an improved defense. But improved defense or not, the story was South putting up four goals on TRN in a little more than 80 minutes, the highest total the Mariners have allowed all year. The defense had been so good for North over the course of the playoffs, allowing two goals in the first four games, and as a matter of fact, the North defense had allowed two or more goals in a game this year only once, a 3-1 loss to Toms River East during the regular season.

So what happened to the TR North defense? The only witness to this game I got a chance to speak with was Toms River North coach Dave Mitchell. He was obviously disappointed to see his team bow out after it played so well to get to this point. Like any coach in his position, he thought his team made a few too many mistakes that allowed the opposition to capitalize, but when I asked him how in the world his defense gave up four goals in a game when they never even give up two, he didn’t say anything about not playing well or bad luck or falling asleep. His first response was the following:

“Because they’re dangerous. They have good forwards and they put pressure on you for the whole game.”

Of course he acknowledged that his team made some critical mistakes, and that’s what happens in 4-3 games: defenses mess up. But getting past the exhaustion in his voice, I could tell that he was impressed with South, was proud his kids scored with 22 seconds left in regulation and kept fighting back and was amazed by an amazing game.

“I’ve never seen a game like that. I’m not happy to be on the losing end, especially because it’s one game away from the state title game and it’s against an A South team and a Toms River team, but it was a fun game to coach in and fun game to be a part of.”

The Tom River North defense was the best defense I have seen all year, with Seton Hall Prep’s defense coming in a close second. That’s just out of the team’s I’ve seen, but their defense is legit, so receive word that South was scoring goal after goal was jaw-dropping to me. I would have been only mildly surprised to hear that South won a 2-1 0r 1-0 game, but 4-3? Not a chance.

“What else did you expect ?,” I ask. Apparrently I didn’t expect a wild game, because I was at the Non-Public finals where CBA and St. Rose both lost, but alas, two state titles were about to be decided. I always hated the Non-Public titles being decided on the same day as the two state final spots because I can never go watch a semifinal because CBA is almost always playing for a state final on the same day. The girls separate the days. Why can’t the guys?

I’m looking forward to the South-Clifton game, when the Indians will face a seemingly jaded Clifton team that has reached two straight Group IV finals, but have only a co-title and a loss to the Rancocas Valley machine last year. We’ll get more into that one on Thursday and in the chat tomorrow night.

Seton Hall Prep 1, CBA 0

You think Clifton feels jaded? Think how CBA and St. Rose feel. I’ll have stories on each game up on the site in a little bit, so I’ll spare you the details in this space. All I’ll say is that I thought CBA was slightly better than Seton Hall Prep, but one thing I loved about SHP was how organized they were in the back. Their defense was terrific and while CBA got some good opportunities, none were so good that you’d have to call Seton Hall Prep’s defense lucky. I thought they were somewhat fortunate to find the net, but defensively, they are a worthy champ.

Scott Thomsen turned his left ankle in the first half and it swelled up on him during halftime. He played the rest of the game, but he was visibly hobbled during the second half. He played most of the half up top instead of in the midfield, as CBA played with three up top for a lot of the second half.

In my opinion, CBA played very well and just couldn’t put one in. It’s easy to say they continued to struggle in championship games, but they really did play well and just couldn’t break through against a tough defense.

Gill St. Bernard’s 3, St. Rose 0

St. Rose was without Dylan Marx, who was violated school policy, according to coach Tim McInerney. Marx is the Shore Conferences leading scorer, and – B Central schedule or no B Central schedule – that’s a huge loss, one the Roses could not overcome. To be honest, I know the exact reason he missed the game, but I don’t like to get into details in situations like this, kind of like the Tyler Wynn situation for TR East. I’ll just say that it’s not a personality issue or anything like that. Dylan is a good guy and he just made a mistake and I’m sure he’s hurting more than he deserves to right now.

Even with him, I don’t think it would have helped much. Gill St. Bernard’s simply outclassed St. Rose in the second half and while Marx’s absence might have been demoralizing, Gill’s attack was too much. They came up short last year and got it done this year.

Shore Things?

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 17, 2009

Four Shore Conference teams remain in the NJSIAA Tournament, two of which have a chance to bring home the state title banner in their respective non-public groups. We already know that either Toms River North or Toms River South will be playing for a Group IV championship on Friday at TCNJ, but will CBA, St. Rose and the TRN-TRS winner be able to take down the usually-favored North Jersey teams each will play. We’ll get more into the prospects of either Toms RIver school when we get there, but we can certainly start with the top two non-publics in the Shore Conference.

Seton Hall Prep vs. CBA, 5:30 p.m. at The College of New Jersey

When CBA goes through South Jersey, one of the advantages it has over St. Augustine and teams of the like is that the Colts play a much deeper, more grueling schedule that doesn’t necessarily help them win any game in particular, but it consistently makes them better than their seed. There is however, something to be said for being battle-tested and that is not an advantage CBA will hold over Seton Hall Prep. The Pirates have as impressive a resume as anyone in the tournament, with a win each over Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco, as well as two wins over Millburn, perhaps the best public school team in North Jersey. The Pirates also have to play the Columbias and the West Oranges of the world, which typically boast Group IV championship contenders.

Beyond having to overcome a SHP team that has proven to be big-game tested, CBA will have to attack one of the best defenses in the state. Brandon Adler and Joe Cellitti anchor the back as a junior-sophomore duo that could headline the best defense in the state next season. Matt Gragnano’s 18 goals are proof that he’s had a great season, but it’s not the 18 goals that I like about Gragnano heading into Tuesday. He put’s a lot of pressure on the backs when he’s in the game, and my guess is that the Colts depth at forward, with Brian Sugarman and Tim Brennan, will be key because Gragnano will be working hard on that Pirate backfield and will need a breather here and there.

Defensively, CBA has looked very good for most of the year. They are organized throughout the field and as far as goal prevention goes, the bottom line is playing mistake-free in the back. Teams haven’t really been able to exploit anything in CBA’s back four, so if the Colts can play a clean game in the back, they’ll be ahead of the 8-ball.

Rarely if ever does CBA come across a midfield more skilled than its own. Scott Thomsen is playing about as well as anyone can play and as long as Steve Krachie hasn’t developed an immunity to Aleve, he should be able to play through an MCL sprain and be himself. The Colts sacrificed some possession against St. Augustine in order to keep players behind the ball, but they remained dangerous and will probably stay defensive minded with their outside mids Scott Beaty and Chris Thorsheim and let Thomsen initiate the attack through the middle.

The Pick: CBA 1-0. This should be a defensive game with shots in the single digits and a lot of action in the midfield. It’s a shame for Seton Hall Prep, because they probably won the hardest section in the state to get to this point and this result will mean second place for their efforts. However, those who are watching CBA for the first time this season will see what all the hype was about.

Gill St. Bernard’s vs. St. Rose, 8 p.m. at The College of New Jersey

Gill St. Bernard’s enters this game as the Non-Public B runner up from a year ago, but a few accounts of that game (many of them biased I’m sure) had Gill controlling most of the game against and Sacred Heart scoring its two goals on set pieces. Furthermore, Gill needed overtime against Montclair Kimberley only because of MKA’s freshman goalie who stood on his head and helped overcome a heavy shot advantage for GSB. So, to recap, Gill is a very dangerous opponent that was here last year and feels like it has the formula to finish the job this this year.

With that said, St. Rose has a team that, in my humble opinion, would have been one of the better teams in Non Public A.  Not necessarily better than St. Augustine, but they would have had a real shot at beating them based on the talent on the field. St. Rose knows how to finish, and while they give up some good chances, they have a good keeper in Andrew Kurtz and they don’t give up the ball easily. St. Rose has a great mix of physicality and skill and the physicality will probably be on display against a Gill team that’s not afraid to rough it up. I expect a physical game with a pk or dangerous dk somewhere in there and the team that’s awarded that break will probably win.

The Pick: St. Rose 2-1 in overtime. Gill may be up to the task, but of the Non-Public B teams I’ve seen in the past few years, this St. Rose team is more than a worthy champ. Because of that, I’ll go with the local.

Toms River South vs. Toms River North, 7  p.m. at Memorial Field, Neptune

Note to the Reader: My apologies in advance, because I can’t promise we’ll have video on this game. I’ve talked to a couple of people who regularly work for our site and, so far, and I have not yet found anyone to shoot the video. If I can’t find anyone in the, oh, we’ll say 20 hours before game time, then again, my sincere apologies for the lack of coverage on what should be another great game between these two. I’d stay close to home and cover this one, but CBA and St. Rose are in their last games, so they get the nod this time. I’ll see the winner of the Toms River showdown on Friday.

This should be an easy game for me to figure out because I’ve seen a lot of these two teams, but because these two have seen so much of each other, it makes this one hard to pick. Based on the two games that have already happened this season, you have to like Toms River North to advance to the state final. After Toms River South took a 1-0 lead in the the first half of the first meeting, way back in September, the Mariners have dominated the next 120 minutes between the two teams. If Toms River North continues its nearly flawless defensive play, it’s hard to see them losing.

So how can Toms River South pull one out? Well the first step, as you might be able to gather by the last sentence of the previous paragraph, is to pull out a goal. The Mariners have not trailed in the tournament because they have only given up two goals and those both came with teams throwing extra forwards up top. Toms River South has been able to score against good defensive teams because of good forwards in Dan Chrashewsky and Connor Voll, but also because stopper Steve Petrosino has a great feel from when to push up and attack the goal. He’s got eight goals, a large total for a defensive play and a lot of them come on set pieces near the net. If Toms River South can generate some of those opportunities, Petrosino becomes a major factor.

The second piece of the puzzle for South is defense, a phase of the game in which the Indians have improved a great deal over the last few weeks. It will have to clean up its effort from the sectional final win over Lenape, in which South went down 2-0 before rallying a two-goal deficit is bad enough, but its especially bad against this North team, which also has a decided edge in goalkeeping with all-county goalie Kevin Meinert.

With that said, the number one strength Toms River South can ride to victory is it’s ability create offense in a frenetic-paced game. If the game is tied or the Indians are withing one in the final 10 minutes, they have proven they can score while up against the clock, because the game often loses its structure and becomes a free-for-all. Basically, this game will be a struggle between a TR North team that wants to keep the game under control, and a TRS team that wants an up-and-down, playground style game. The team that dictates tempo will be playing for a state title on Friday night.

The Pick: Toms River North 2-1. Watch out for the TR North forwards, particularly Rafael Vergara, the hero in TRN’s 2-1 win over Rancocas Valley. While the TRS defense is much-improved, the emergence of the Mariner forwards is equally important and could be enough to put the Indians away early.

Sectional final scores

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 13, 2009

For those looking for video highlights tonight and tomorrow morning, I apologize because I screwed up the TRN video. Mr. Doug Higgins was kind enough to give me a DVD of the game, but I’m having trouble with it on my laptop. I’m going to play around with that video, as well as the TRS video, on Saturday ( I know a few people with MACs, which might solve the problem) so check back on Sunday or Monday for the highlights of those games, both of which were instant classics in the realm of the Shore Conference. The game stories will be up as usual because last I checked, my writing is not broken.

TRN 2, Rancocas Valley 1,OT

Rafael Vergara scored in the third minute of overtime to stun Rancocas Valley and give Toms River North its first sectional title since 2005.  Tom Defino sent a through ball to Vergara who beat charging keeper Jake Kapulskey to it and slid it to the open net for the win.

Tyler Higgins scored on a cross from Vergara in the 6th to put North up 1-0. Rancocas tied it on a header off a corner kick in the 63rd.

Delran 1, Raritan 0, Delran wins shootout 5-4

Princeton 2, Freehold 0

TRS 3, Lenape 2, OT

John Nogiewich scored the game-tying goal with eight seconds left in regulation, then scored the game-winner from 14 yards out four minutes into overtime as TR South erased a 2-0 deficit in the final 14 minutes of regulation to capture its first sectional title since 1991. It’s believed its the first sectional title in any boys sport, other than baseball, at Toms River South since that 1991 sectional soccer title. The sectional title was for South Jersey Group III and Friday’s victory marks TR South’s first sectional title in Group IV. All four of the Indians’ wins during the state tournament so far have come after they have trailed in the second half. The first two game-winning goals during the tournament were both in the final 30 seconds and TR South beat TR East with an overtime goal in the 94th minute. South will play TR North for the third time this year for a spot in the state final.

Picking the Finals

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 13, 2009

Some abbreviated finals picks/previews.

CJ IV

Rancocas Valley at Toms River North, 2 p.m.

One would think that because Rancocas Valley routed Marlboro that they will do the same to Toms River North, but I think the scoreboard will end up being a little closer on the scoreboard. Toms River North is build more on defensive soccer and the pressure it will apply should disrupt the Red Devils somewhat, but pressure is always dangerous against a team with a good forward. The best way to combat it is to keep the ball away from RV, but the Devils apply plenty of pressure in their own right, so that could be a problem as well. For Toms River North to win, they need two things to happen: First, they need to score twice. One goal will not be enough and so far, one goal is usually all its taken to win games. Secondly, they will need Kevin Meinert to have the game of his life, and he’s certainly capable of putting together the kind of game in goal that is necessary to hang with the defending Group IV champs. It will be interesting to see if RV plays TRN similar to how they played Marlboro and if Toms River gets sucked into RV’s counterattack game.
The Pick: Rancocas Valley 2-0.

CJ III

Freehold at Princeton, 2 p.m.

A 1-0 game was a near-certainty last round when Wall and Princeton met, but the Tigers, who have been an automatic shutout this year, may find keeping Freehold off the board to be very difficult. The Colonials have not only reached the final for the first time since 1984, but they have learned how to win tight games in the process, with their last two victories coming by one-goal margins. As is usually the case for Freehold, the defense in front of Alex Gentile will be key, especially in a game where two goals will most certainly win it. Gentile will probably have to match zeros with Princeton deep into the match until one of the big forward can get loose. Freehold’s last game on turf against a good team was the CBA disaster, so they’ll need to overcome some of those demons as well. Freehold should get more opportunities than Wall did and I think they can push Princeton to the brink here, but I won’t go against the alma mater at home again. Plus, at this point, I think teams would rather me pick against them. Ask Marlboro and Central.
The Pick: Princeton 2-1.

CJ II

Delran at Raritan, 2 p.m.

I can’t say I’m surprised we’re talking about Raritan being a serious contender for a Group II title, and if you read between the lines of my Raritan coverage, you probably picked up on the fact that I thought they would be playing for a Group II title. It’s easy to say that when you watch a team as impressive as the Rockets in early September, but now that they will have to stare down the defending Group II co-champs, which beat Raritan on its own field last year and already have an impressive win over Rancocas Valley this year, the picture is a little murkier. By all accounts, Delran is a better team than it was last year, when it drew the No. 4 seed in CJ II and got hot at the right time. They are a bigger team than Raritan and from what I saw of them last year they can play some soccer as well. Raritan’s defense has been very good during this tournament, and while three goals in three games is nothing spectacular, one goal came in a 9-1 win and the two others by Shore were a little on the fluky side. Raritan’s defense will have to continue its strong play and stay a little tighter on set pieces, which hurt them against Shore on one of the goals. Offensive, Raritan is clicking about as well as a team can click. They Rockets have averaged nearly six goals in their three tournament games behind a breakout tournament for Sal Liguori (six goals). If not for the weather, I’d pick Raritan by two goals, but I think the weather will be a great equalizer and will make this game a potential high scoring free-for-all.
The Pick: Raritan 3-2.

SJ IV

Toms River South at Lenape, 2 p.m.

With Marlboro out, Toms River South has inherited the title of “Cardiac Kids” of the Shore Conference. The Indians have gone down to the wire in all three of their state matches, winning their first two games in the final 30 seconds of regulation, then rallying from a one-goal deficit to beat Toms River East in overtime. The good news for TRS is that they’re not doing it with smoke and mirrors. They have been the better team in all three games, so there is plenty of reason to think they’re a talented enough group to win the section, but then again, I’m not sure that’s news to most of the people who follow Shore Conference soccer and this blog. Lenape is always a strong team and they’ve already taken out a Southern team that was playing well. This game has been moved to a turf field, which favors TR South. When I started writing this caption, I thought I was picking Lenape, but on turf, against a team that struggled against Southern, who TRS handled twice, I like the Indians and their vastly improved defense.
The Pick: TR South 2-1.