Manley's Blog

On the East Side…

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on August 31, 2010

Toms River East scored a 2-0 scrimmage win over Red Bank Catholic, a game played between two teams that have championship aspirations in divisions with some tough teams to climb.

The first half was pretty even with TRE going up 1-0 on a cross that RBC knocked into its own goal, but TRE had the better of play in the second half once its midfield started to get in sync. The Raiders have four midfielders in Bill Bartels, Pat Varga, Matt Wedding and Alex Stergiou who played a lot last year and I think they’ll be a strength as the season progresses, but they are still working out some kinks. Then again, who isn’t.

TRE should be a little more organized defensively, closer to the form of two years ago when they were the best defense in the Shore Conference. Ryan McIntyre will slide back to sweeper from stopper and he looked to have a pretty good grasp of the position. More importantly, keeper Bob Varga seems to be on the same page with the defense in front of him. He had an All-Shore season as a sophomore, but when the defense graduated, he struggled early in his junior year before picking it up down the stretch.

East lost the most at the forward position from last season, including 21 of 44 goals on the season from Craig Wagenblast, but East may actually be pretty good there when all is said and done. The Raiders have four forwards vying for the spot and it sounds like senior Keith Tappert will get one of those spots, although coach Ted Gillen is not giving spots away with this much competition. But it sounds like the team likes Tappert and after he had to sit out the 2009 season due to a suspension, the baseball star has the backing of his teammates.

More on TRE in a feature preview for tomorrow, which will focus on a handful of seniors on a junior-heavy team. Kinda the inverse of the TR South feature that ran today.

Red Bank Catholic is an interesting team in Class B North. Most people are assuming Colt Neck will run away with B North this year and that every other team is competing for second place. The question then becomes, is second place really that open? With all due respect to defending champ Freehold, if there is one team that asserts itself as the challenger to Colts Neck, I say it’s RBC. Ryan King and Greg Ruffini are really good pieces around which to build in the middle and the back, respectively, and coach George Black has some experienced pieces to plug in. Both King and Ryan Fox tied for the team lead in goals with the graduated Pete Guastella so there is production to go with the ability.

RBC was able to disrupt TRE in the box and that’s been a staple of the Caseys in the past few years. They’ve been very tough to score upon and with a sweeper like Ruffini back, that should continue. Because of that strength, I’d give them a leg up on Freehold for the second spot in that division. King also got going at times in the midfield and he should give them some ability to create some dangerous opportunities over the course of 80 minutes.

Tomorrow, I’m checking in on Colts Neck and Howell, so be sure to check in here.

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