Manley's Blog

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.

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