Manley's Blog

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.


One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. TRS BELIEVE said, on November 18, 2009 at 5:00 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: