Manley's Blog

Weekend Wrap-up from Toms River

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on August 16, 2010

Even if you got a chance to catch some of the Toms River Tournament, there’s a good chance you missed a whole lot with nine games in two separate parks going on at any given time over the course of five hours. I could tell you that I’ll fill you in on everything myself, but I actually missed a lot too. Here’s the stuff that didn’t fall through the cracks.

– There is always plenty of buzz at a tournament like this because there are a lot of people watching a lot of different games and they all talk to one another afterward. Of all the Shore teams in Toms River this weekend, none generated as much buzz as Jackson Memorial. For starters, the Jags finished the weekend 4-0 with wins over Shore, Holmdel, Long Branch and Sayreville and outscored those opponents by a combined 12-1 margin. While the results certainly earned some praise of the other coaches, the first thing that always came up in conversation with regards to Jackson was their size. The Jags were a team heavy on sophomores and freshmen last year and given a year to grow, grow they did. During their seasons of recent success, Jackson has always had the physical advantage over its opponents and for the first time in three years, they will have that advantage again.

– This tournament is great because it’s a chance to see a lot of teams before the season starts, but you have to be careful about evaluating and subsequently judging teams based on their performance and results in a series on games in mid-August. I’m pretty sure that all goes without saying. For instance, Shore beat Toms River South 3-1 Sunday after losing to Jackson Memorial 5-1 on Saturday and if these games were a direct indication of true talent level, Jackson is the A South favorite, Toms River South is in trouble and Shore could go either way depending on the day.

All three could turn out to be true, but I don’t consider any of these games as the first sign of things to come with regards to Shore, TRS and Jackson. Shore was missing top defender Luke Bush all weekend and took time to get their feet under them, Toms River South mixed, matched and rested a lot of its players and Jackson happened to play well this weekend. It’s fair to say the Jaguars will compete for a top spot in A South, and it could very well be that Shore and TRS have some holes to fill, but I don’t think I need to explain why TR South will be the top-ranked team of the bunch to start the season.

– Despite a modest 1-1-2 record from the weekend, Central showed me a lot this weekend. They played a tough quartet of games and while they probably could have played better against Ocean (1-1 tie) on Sunday morning, the Golden Eagles have to be happy with how they’re put together. They lost to two good teams in Don Bosco (3-1) and TR North (3-2 on a last second goal) and played pretty well in both games. Nick Salvemini and Kevin Geoghegan look really sharp running things in the middle and they have a bona fide finisher in Tyler Shan, as well as some pure speed up top. There are a handful of teams on the fence for a top 10 spot and Central has to be one of them.

– While I was checking out the Central-Ocean game Sunday, I turned my eye to the Don Bosco-East Brunswick game on the neighboring field. Not only were these arguably the two best teams at the tournament, but they played each other like it was a championship game. It was loud, physical, and there was even a red card handed out near the end of the game. When Bosco tied the game on a header with four minutes left, they celebrated like they just beat Seton Hall Prep. To contrast, Toms River North beat Central on a last-second goal and walked off with a couple of smiles and some handshakes. Some teams have a hard time scaling back in the preseason, but the energy made for a fun game.

– Speaking of Bosco, they waxed Toms River North 7-0 on Saturday. Teddy Sisco scored three first-half goals to put the Crusaders up 3-0 at the break and the second half wasn’t any pretty. North really showed its inexperience in the back and how they grow up in the back four will pretty much dictate how their season goes. They move the ball really well in the midfield, but without their two standouts – Paavo Prima and Dan Klein – from last year, building up from the back won’t be as much of a strong point this year, at least not early on.

– With TRN and TRS showing some holes, we should all be reminded that Toms River East could very well jump up and snag A South. They beat a tough Scotch Plains squad on day one drew good reviews from those who watched them (I saw a little of the Scotch Plains game, but that’s it).

– Holmdel lost a little of its preseason buzz because Sean Davis and Dan Metzger elected not to play, but the Hornets should still be a team to watch out for this year. They went 2-1-1 this weekend with wins over Long Branch and Pinelands, a tie against Egg Harbor and a loss to Jackson. Not the most impressive wins in the world, but the good news for Holmdel is that it’s pretty clear they can still possess the ball better than most teams they play. Evan Teitelbaum, Casey O’Gorman and Matt Sawaged all looked pretty good in the action I saw, although Sawaged and Teitelbaum missed some time with nagging injuries. St. John Vianney will be tough this season, but Holmdel is still an A Central contender and a Top 10 possibility.

– Southern, Ocean and Jackson Liberty should all be a little better than I initially gave them credit for. Southern has a lot of talent to replace and they are a young team with a lack of size, but they have a bunch of kids who can play. I was really impressed with Damien Irons in goal last season and he is the strength of the Rams heading into the year.

Ocean isn’t loaded like they were two years ago, but it’s easy to forget how much Tom Reilly can get out of his teams when you’re just focused on how good players like Jacob Rubinstein are. They play hard and they can still put together a pretty good attack, which should make them a tough win in B North. There is no clear No. 2 behind Colts Neck in that division, and while I didn’t think so before this weekend, Ocean could definitely climb its way to that spot.

Jackson Liberty will undoubtedly be better than last year’s 1-19 team, but how much better? The Lions scored a nice win over Matawan on Saturday and was competitive all weekend. They were exceedingly young last year and while most of the promise still lies in the underclassman, this may be the first year that Liberty shows some signs of life in soccer.

That’s all for now. Keep an eye out for some stories later this week as practices get underway starting Monday.

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