Manley's Blog

State Tournament: The Day After

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 7, 2009

Having digested round two of the state tournament, let’s have a look back at Friday’s action, shall we?

Point taken

After getting another look at Point Boro in their 1-0 win over Lacey in SJ III, two things are clear. First, the 3-0 loss to Southern in the SCT was just one of those days for the Panthers. They were playing without their Nick O’Hara, their top defender and one of their senior captains and ran into a Southern team that as hitting its stride. Point Boro is strong throughout the back, but O’Hara and Nick Tarantin are the two top-notch defenders of the bunch and with the man-to-man system they like to play, it was hard for them to match up against Ethan Decker and Rob Solorzano.

The second thing is that, as we wrap up the season for both teams, Southern is probably better team than Lacey at this point. Lacey started the season so well and built up its resume, which allowed them to finish ahead of Southern in the standings, but that all seemed to change during a five-day stretch from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1. Lacey’s 2-1 loss to Toms River South on Sept. 26 started a 13-game stretch in which the Lions went 5-8. Later that week, starting with a 4-1 win over Jackson on Oct. 1, Southern started a 14-game stretch in which the Rams went 9-4, including a pretty convincing 2-1 win over Lacey on the road. Lacey lost Jared Krampetz in the SCT loss to Holmdel, which looks like it was the last straw in a tough finish for the Lions. The program made great strides in 2009, but the finish was disappointing considering the hot start.

Something else I learned from covering the Boro-Lacey game is that I’m covering more teams than I can handle, because I said repeatedly on the postgame video interviews that it was Boro’s second straight shutout, which it wasn’t. I don’t know which game I was thinking of, but I kept picturing a 3-0 first round victory over Highland for some reason when the score was actually 4-1. Sorry about that.

Point Boro is one of the most disciplined teams you’ll see all year in the Shore Conference. They’ve won 14 games in each of the past two seasons and we’re still counting in 2009 because they play very well together and everyone sticks to the gameplan. It sounds simple and generic, but it is so apparent with Point Boro, moreso than most other teams. It also helps that they’re extremely athletic, with some size to go along with it. They dropped Al Graziano from center mid to the back after going up 1-0, and the defense went into shut down mode.  Point Boro has shown they have trouble with top-notch forwards in losses to Southern (Decker) and Manasquan (Ben Drake), but they may be able to go two more rounds without running into that problem. Moorestown is the defending sectional champ and already knocked off a pretty good Seneca team, so the challenge gets even harder for Boro next round.

Central loves that home-cooking

I caught the second half of the Central-Manchester game, which turned out to be the half when the action took place. I thought the second half was pretty even in terms of play, which both teams making some runs. It was a pretty fun match to watch, because neither team waited around to attack – they each sent runners and tried to hit them, which made for some opportunities. Central got a wide open look for PJ Oris, a shot that ended up wide of the left post and Manchester put a couple of very dangerous second half opportunities together, most of which came after they fell behind. According to coach Brian Slota, they also hit the post twice in the first half. I saw them hit the post once in the second half on a nice give-and-go between Schmidt and Cahill, who slid the ball past keeper Jamie Pace and to the far post. It looked like the ball might go right in anyway, but Mike Agudelo ran onto it and looked as if he was going to poke it in. After watching the video a few times, I don’t know how it got through him. It wasn’t even a mistake on his part, it’s just hard to believe that the ball didn’t hit him and redirect into the net. Looking at his reaction, Agudelo must have been thinking the same thing.

Most everyone knows about Central’s stellar home record, which now stands at 9-1. The Golden Eagles will be at home the rest of the way and, like Point Boro, play a dangerous double-digit seed in the semifinals in Burlington Township.My feeling is that one of the two B South teams will win and the other will get picked off, although I haven’t decided which one.From what I know, Moorestown sounds better than Burlington, so Boro will have the tougher opponent, but I also think that Boro is better than Central. Both teams are tough on their home field, with Boro improving to 9-2 at home with the win over Lacey.

I also want to say you’re welcome to both Central and Point Boro. Both coaches thanked me for picking against them at home, which I guess served for some nice bulletin board material. Along with the video highlight packages we’ll be selling, I think we should also sell official bulletin board material. Sounds very lucrative.

CJ IV

The previous post has all you need to know about Marlboro’s wild pk win over East Brunswick. After the game, Dave Santos said he turned to one of his assistants and said, “I think I’m going to go 0-18 next year.” We all keep waiting for Marlboro to wind up on the wrong side of a break, but it’s looking like that might not happen until next year. While Marlboro’s good fortune was on display in this game, so was their resilience and poise. It’s not an accident that this team keeps getting breaks. They’re good at making them.

The Mustangs will need a lot of breaks to survive the next round against the Rancocas Valley machine, which took out Freehold Township 2-1 Tuesday. Todd Briggs said his team played its best game since last year’s SCT final, despite coming up a little short. RV didn’t score the winner until the final 10 minutes and Freehold Township held a 20-15 advantage in shots to boot.

In its last 11 games, Toms River North is 8-2-1. There’s nothing strange about that record, but the makeup of the eight wins are. All eight of North’s wins in the last 11 games have been one-goal victories, including four straight tournament victories. The last time the Mariners played a game that wasn’t decided by one goal, they lost to TR East 3-1. Is this bad? Not necessarily. The Mariners’ next opponent is North Brunswick, the defending sectional champ and master of the close state tourny game over the past few years. That Toms River North is tested in close, low-scoring games is a positive heading into Tuesday. I picked North Brunswick to start the playoffs, but TR North has proven it has the formula to keep advancing.

CJ III

The Shore and the CVC make up this entire bracket every year and it seems that in most years, we are guaranteed a Shore vs. CVC final. Not necessarily this season though, as Wall takes on Princeton and Freehold hosts defending sectional champs West Windsor-Plainsboro North for the two spots in the final. Freehold has been up-and-down a bit as of late, but they’ve put together two pretty good state games. They’ll need to pick it up a notch Tuesday against the Knights, who have picked up their play in the last month.

Wall got back to keeping the ball out of the net Friday in a 1-0 win over Hopewell, three days after winning a 4-3 goalfest against Allentown. Defense will be the name of the game against Princeton, which has allowed single-digit goals this year and pitched two shutouts in the first two rounds. Josh Aylett has really come on for Wall this season. He’s up to double digit goals on the season and along with James Walsh and Octavio Dragonette up top, Wall has some scoring punch that it always seems to be looking for.

CJ II

I don’t know how much good can come of a 9-1 win, which is exactly what Raritan is coming off of after they completely dismantled Willingboro Friday. An easy game can give a team some rest and confidence, but at some point a team has to play win close games. Raritan should have a close game on its hands when Shore rolls in on Tuesday night. Shore played much better in a 2-1 win over A.L. Johnson than it did in round one, and they’ll have some confidence playing a Raritan team that it beat during the preseason (a 3-1 score if I remember correctly). I’ll have more on the Shore-Raritan showdown in the semifinal previews coming up on Monday.

SJ IV

The Toms River East vs. Toms River South semifinal was probably the fourth most likely Shore Conference interdivsional matchup to happen past the first round of the states, behind Manchester-Central (just happened) Freehold Township-Marlboro (nope), and Raritan-Manasquan (nope). But after both teams picked up road wins along the way – TR East in round one and TR South at Cherry Hill West on Friday – the Toms Rivers will meet for the third time after splitting the regular season series with each winning 2-1.

Toms River East has been very impressive in two wins, scoring nine goals in two games. South, meanwhile has had to battle, scoring the game-winner with four seconds left to beat Vineland on Tusday and again with 26 seconds left on Friday against CH West. While I’m sure coach Ed Leibe wouldn’t mind another goal per game, he has to be thrilled with the development of his Indians in the back. they are keeping teams off the board and they limited CH West’s dangerous forward, Trevor Sharpe, by man-marking him with junior Kyle Felton and shadowing him with a double team from Steve Petrosino. Leibe was particularly complimentary of Felton, who doesn;t have the numbers of a defender like Petrosino, but has had a major impact on the defensive turnaround of the last few weeks.

SJ II

Barnegat hung around for the second straight game, but couldn’t keep top-seeded Woodstown down in a 1-0 loss. Coach Mike McCullion said he had some younger guys playing because some of his older players planned vacations earlier in the year and missed the game. Now that Barnegat has had some success in the state tourny, I’m sure the future Bengals will leave the beginning of November open. I probably have not given McCullion and Barnegat enough props this year for a season that was most certainly a  step in the right direction for a still-young program.

Non Publics

CBA and St. Rose both shook off some rust and took care of their respective St. Joe’s opponents, with CBA taking care of the Metuchen version and St. Rose the Hammonton version. I always like to see Steve Krachie score because he’s arguably the best player in the conference even if his stats don’t jump off the page. Anything to get his numbers up is well-deserved. On the other end of the spectrum, Chris Hueth keeps chugging, scoring two more goals to up his total to 22.

St. John Vianney and Monsignor Donovan both bow out, Mon Don doing so in excruciating fashion by surrendering the game-winner in the final minute. The Griffins battled injuries all year and nearly won a date with St. Augustine, but the bad luck bit them again. Vianney meanwhile played a tough first half that ended with a St. Augustine goal to make it 1-0 at the break. Two quick strikes by the Hermits and the Lancers were down 3-0, a hole out of which Vianney could not climb. John Boylan capped an outstanding senior year with his 14th and 15th goals of the season, including a pk to make it 3-1.

Live Chat

On a side note to end it, I’m going to be trying a live chat Monday at 9 p.m., which I believe is right after Newman’s at APP. I’d do it Tuesday, but I’ll be at either TR South or Raritan so that’s out. So if you still feel like talking after Josh is done, you can’t make his, or you just really want to talk to me, stop over at 9 on Monday. We’ll cover whatever you want to talk about, all-shore included. I won’t disclose too much, but the teams are starting to come together, so we can do some debate on that, along with some state talk. I’ll post the chat on the site and the blog so it’s easy to find.

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