Manley's Blog

Story of the Day: B Central?

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 25, 2010

It’s not very often that big news comes out of Class B Central. It’s usually “Shore wins, St. Rose wins, Point Beach or Mater Dei gets a key win, and the sun sets in the west.” Strangely enough, this was the only Friday with Class B Central divisional games scheduled and it turned out to be as crazy a day as could be. Asbury Park stayed hot with a 1-0 win over Shore on the road, while Point Beach shook off a 4-0 loss to those Blue Bishops and beat the defending division champion St. Rose 1-0, ending the Purple Roses’ 24-game winning streak in Class B Central spanning three seasons in surprising fashion.

The last team to beat St. Rose in the division? You got it. Point Beach in 2008. The Garnet Gulls were contenders in the B Central for the middle part of the decade, but went through a rebuilding phase last year and it continued with a rocky start to this year. The 4-0 loss to Asbury on Thursday appeared to be the final nail in the coffin for the Gulls this year, but a win over St. Rose opens up the possible scenarios in which the Gulls can do something in the Group I tournament. Joe Saverino is a senior standout on a very young team and he came up with another big goal on Friday. The impressive thing about it was that the Gulls had to hang onto the lead for 64 minutes against a team that’s usually very comfortable playing with three forwards. On their home field though, the Gulls have given the Roses fits and it continued Friday. In some ways, the home way isn’t a shocker, but St. Rose looked set up to run the division table and that all ended abruptly thanks to the Gulls.

While Asbury clearly showed signs of vast development, I don’t think many people took serious the notion that the Bishops could go to Shore Regional and beat the Blue Devils on their home field. Sure the Bishops took them to OT before losing the first meeting, but that was on a smaller field at Asbury Park. Surely, the regulation pitch would favor the Devils.

Not so. Asbury Park is a fast team with a host of newcomers who have come in and made an instant impact around returnees Patrick Garius and Jean Bartelus and they played Shore close for 65 minutes before finally breaking through on a goal by Clifford Cazeau. While he does not lead the team in goals, Cazeau has been the most consistent scorer on a game-to-game basis for the Bishops and is one of the newcomers who has made a major difference. He also scored the tying goal that sent the first meeting two overtime, making him a certifiable Blue Devil killer at this point. Junior Sergilles Casseus has been the hot hand on the team, with five goals in the previous two games before going scoreless on Friday. He is a 6-3 forward with speed and has caused serious problems up top for Shore in two meetings.

Asbury is now 3-3-1 and has won three straight since getting off to a frustrating 0-3-1 start. In those first four games, Asbury lost a one-goal game to Manchester, an overtime game against Shore and settled for a rain-shortened tie against Mater Dei when the Seraphs scored int he 74th to tie the game. The other loss was a 7-1 drubbing at Red Bank and since the Mater Dei tie, Asbury has not allowed a goal while topping Point Beach, Henry Hudson and Shore. The 4-0 win over a Point Beach team that just beat St. Rose makes the Tuesday meeting between Shore and Asbury a lot more intriguing than it seemed at the beginning of this week.
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Live Chat Tonight at 8 p.m.

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 23, 2010

Click Here for the Live Chat. It will begin at 8 p.m., maybe a little before and wrap up around 9.

The Biggest Loser

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 22, 2010

Out of everything that went down on Tuesday, I though the most telling game was Colts Neck’s 1-0 win over Long Branch. I think everyone agrees that Colts Neck is among the best five or so teams in the Conference and is deserving¬† of the preseason hype as an SCT and Group III contender, but not a lot of people knew what Long Branch was going to have this year, including Green Wave coach Joe Simon.

Simon was, however, optimistic and we’re starting to see why. Long Branch rolled to a 2-0 start and in their first major test, they passed, that is as long as you’re grading on a curve. It’s true that a loss is a loss, but Long Branch had the speed and the size to give Colts Neck some problems and while keeping the score close all the way through, the Wave gave themselves two very good opportunities to tie the game before ultimately falling short. Long Branch’s roster is comprised predominately of players who will be back next year and they showed they have some potential for this year as well with a strong effort in Tuesday’s loss.

Cougars Licking their Wounds

Colts Neck is already battling the injury bug and this bug might be a long-term ailment. Coach Art Collier and company learned this week that sophomore forward Alex Ramos will be out for 6-8 weeks with a back injury that Collier said developed while playing this past spring. Despite tallying two goals and three assists in the Cougars first two games, he had been in visible pain at times and now will likely miss the rest of the season. Fortunately for Colts Neck, they have some depth at the forward position with three other forwards who already have three goals or more. Sophomore Jay Mikula has stepped up in Ramos’ absence and leads the team with four goals.
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Week Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 21, 2010

Real quick on the red card given to Howell’s Ozcan Onder yesterday: All-in-all, I’m not sure Ozzie should have been given a red card for what he did, but I’m not overly stunned he got it after watching the video again. One thing you should know about me is that I think the technical foul in the NBA is the silliest, pettiest rule in sports, at least the way it’s used. There are times it needs to be used to keep the game moving and get players off an official’s case, but it is used for some minor stuff at the pro level and the fallout of all the technicals becomes more of a circus than the complaining.

When it comes to cards in soccer, I just can’t see how talking should warrant a red card, but it’s in the rules so what are you going to do? One approach I’ve heard that I like is that if a kid uses profanity talking directly at the official, he gets a red. If he says something in another direction, whether to the ground, at the sky, toward the bench, to a teammate, etc., it’s a yellow. In Ozzie’s case, he was walking away and considering the point in the game, it should have been a yellow, in my opinion. The good thing about the red is I’m sure it will inject some restraint into the player, but in my dealings with him, he is not a problem with officials. It was just an emotional reaction that should have drawn a yellow card, but if the red makes him a little wiser on the field without taking away any of his fire, maybe it’s not such a bad thing in the long run. However, a yellow card is also supposed to do that to a player and it doesn’t cost a team a player. Obviously, this more my feeling than it is an interpretation of the rules, so I’d be interested to hear some opinions on this, especially if you have any officiating experience.

This Week

Holmdel gets its first challenge this week, with three games against SJV, Red Bank and Rumson. The Hornets have taken care of business so far but these three games will give us a better idea of how equipped they are to make any serious noise in the postseason. Dan Metzger will debut for the Hornets this week and while his role is up in the air, senior Rishi Desai has also began practicing with the team and could be a factor down the road. The talent is in place for a big year, and we’ll see how that talent looks against A Central’s best.

Wednesday is a big day for the smaller divisions, with Point Boro playing Wall in C Central and Central in playing Lacey in B South. There are a couple of notable games in the other divisions, like Southern-TR East and TR North-TR South, but it’s looking like B South and C Central are both going to be two horse races and the horses are all going head-to-head on Wednesday. Point Boro could really use a win after battling in losses to Toms River South and Toms River East in its last two games, while Central could use a win to cool off Lacey, which has played fairly well in its non-division schedule, all things considered.

This is a big week for Long Branch because after getting off to a 2-0 start, we get to see if they are at all ready to sustain this kind of play. I’m not saying they need to go out and beat Colts Neck today, but we’ll see if they can play them close at all and after that game, they play a solid Ocean team on the road and a Monmouth team playing well to open the season.

As a website update, stats are up and will be updated daily. We’ve got the standard goals, points and shutouts leader boards and all stats are based on information reported by All Shore Media. If you see any discrepancies, you may email me at mmanley21@gmail.com and I’ll check with the coach of the team to verify the change.

Join me for the first Live Chat, which will be 8 p.m. on Thursday. We’ll touch on some more stuff as the week goes on and if something doesn’t come up, you can bring it up on the chat.

Kings for a Day

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 18, 2010

When I first looked at Monsignor Donovan’s schedule this year, I wondered how in the world the Griffins were going to be able to get to .500 with so many new starters, not much returning scoring and a schedule with a more difficult division slate and a brutal set of non-division games that includes Toms River South (loss on Sept. 10), Central, Toms River North, Manchester and Toms River East. In a division that includes Manasquan, Wall and Point Boro, a 5-5 season for Donovan wouldn’t be so bad, which means they’d have to go 3-2 in those five games to make the Shore Conference Tournament.

That’s why Mon Don’s overtime win over Central was so big on Friday. A 6-4 finish in Class C Central would be a pretty good achievement, and if the Griffins can swing that, they will make the SCT despite the tough schedule. I talked to Ken Oliver about it before the season, and this was basically the blueprint: stay above water in the new division and win two or three of the games outside of it. These games against Lakewood and Jackson Liberty are not gimmes, while Squan is tough and Point Boro and Wall are just straight up good. The win over Central now gives Donovan hat extra game it can play with and even allows them to add a game at the cutoff date if necessary.

Adam King has been the man for Mon Don in the early going. With the Griffins graduating the overwhelming majority of its goals from last year, the junior forward has stepped into a prominent scoring role. In four games, the Griffins have only scored four goals, but King has scored two of them, including Friday’s game-winner in overtime.

Even more encouraging for the future prospects of Monsignor Donovan is this little tidbit: of the five players who have contributed either a goal or an assist, none are seniors. Two juniors – King and Andrew Hemberger – and three sophomores – John Underwood, Colin Covello and George Bardis – have accounted for the goals this season with King and Hemberger (goal, two assists) carrying the load. Seniors Tom Zanowich, Derek Koch, Paul Gunteski, Shamus Matthews and Sean Sullivan will still lead the way but there is going to be a large chunk of contribution coming from the younger crop of players, which hasn’t happened at Mon Don in some time.
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Bad Day for Defending Champs

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 16, 2010

If the players on Toms River South and Marlboro somehow forgot that this is indeed a new season, they were reminded with a dose of reality on Wednesday. Jackson Memorial, one of the popular sleepers of the preseason, knocked off the defending Group IV champion and No. 1 ranked Indians 3-2 behind a late goal by Connor Saker, while defending SCT champion Marlboro was blitzed by a very impressive-looking Howell team.

We’ll start in Jackson, where the Jaguars flexed their muscles on their home field behind Saker, who scored his second and third goals of the season, both of which were go-ahead scores. I don’t want to sound like I’m raining on Jackson’s parade here, because this is a big win in the Jaguars quest to climb the A South mountain for second time in four years, but this Toms River South squad was a vulnerable one considering their preseason ranking. I’ve done four preseason rankings now and I thought Manalapan in 2007, Howell in 2008 and CBA last year were all stronger teams heading into the season. I just didn’t think it was realistic to expect Toms River South to go any better than 9-3 or 10-2 in A South, and with the noted struggles the Indians have endured on grass surfaces the past few years, this game was a dangerous one for TR South. This was a great win for Jackson, just not a surprising one.
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Rumson, Red Bank Players in A Central

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 15, 2010

The two most noteworthy wins from Tuesday were definitely Rumson’s impressive 2-0 win over Vianney and Red Bank’s 3-0 dismantling of defending division champ Raritan. I can’t speak too much for the Red Bank game because I wasn’t there but I’ve been on the Red Bank in 2010 bandwagon since opening day of last year. They were such a young team last year but you could see the talent and with another year of experience and some new faces in the varsity mix, it looks like everything may come together this year. Even the loss to Shore on Saturday was a good sign, because the Bucs outplayed the Blue Devils in the second half and if not for a few posts and another couple of crossbars, we could be talking about a 3-0 team. There’s a long way to go yet, but Red Bank looks like a team that can do some real damage in this division.

If I were to ask a random person in Monmouth County to describe Rumson kids, the terms “rich” and “smart” would probably be the only ones with any positive connotation. But here’s another one that I’ve found to be universal across the athletic programs: tough. As far as the soccer team is concerned, the talent level fluctuates from year to year but every Rumson team I’ve seen since I started covering the area has been noticeably tough. Last night against Vianney, Rumson did not control the game per say, and Vianney certainly showed some hustle on their own end, but I thought the difference in the game was Rumson’s collective effort in the back when Vianney made its runs. The Lancers got off 11 shots, but it could have been more like 16 or 17 if Bulldogs defenders weren’t sticking their legs, torsos and heads in front of the ball. I think a big part of that is Rumson’s best player, Ben Alderoty, is willing to do those little things, as he showed by going over the keeper to get his head on the ball to set up the first goal by Alec Burke. The second goal was a fortunate bounce followed by a good shot by Paul Tegan, but make no mistake, Rumson made it’s own luck with their effort. They are going to be a pain in the butt for a lot of teams this year.

One reason Rumson’s defense looked so good was the play of keeper Forrest Sexton, whose rise to the starting keeper position you can read about in the game story. While Freehold Township’s Phil Horan probably played the most dynamic game I’ve seen in goal, I thought Sexton game Tuesday was the best I’ve seen in the early going because his decision-making and instincts were so on-point. He knew when to come get the ball, when to get into the air and when to stay on his line to make the save, which he did seven times. As far as demonstrating a feel for the position, you can’t play a much better game than Sexton did Tuesday against a very good Vianney team.

Speaking of Vianney, I think they’ll be fine. Like I said, they got a bad break on the second goal and over-pursued the ball on the first one. For the most part, they were the more dangerous team and you can see the makings of a very tough opponent come tournament time.

– As big as those wins were for Red Bank and Rumson, Asbury Park’s effort nearly trumped both of them. The Blue Bishops got a game-tying goal in the 77th minute from Clifford Cazzeau and ended up losing a heartbreaker in overtime on a penalty kick. Maintaining consistency has been a big issue for the Bishops, but as I’ve said before, they have two or three really good efforts in them per season and we saw one of them here. Remember, two years ago they took a very talented Rumson team to overtime and last year they won three games in the division. You have to feel for the Asbury players a little bit because that’s now two one-goal losses, but they have shown they can score goals, even against a Shore team that figures to do well once again in B Central and Central Jersey Group II.

I’m going to cut it short because of the early start at Marlboro, but props to Long Branch’s Luis DeSousa for his second straight two-goal game to open the season and to Colts Neck’s Jay Mikula, who celebrated his first varsity goal by scoring two more for his first career hat trick. Most coaches hate celebrations, but I’m sure Colt Neck coach Art Collier likes that one.

TRE-TRN Video

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 15, 2010

It was brought to my attention that the TRE-TRN video was actually the Freehold Twp-CBA video. It’s fixed now.

Quickies from Monday

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 14, 2010

Just a few quick hits from what we saw on Monday:

– CBA’s Scott Thomsen said his knee is coming along and Monday was the first time he ran since he tore his ACL in April. He had been riding the stationary bike to help strengthen it and keep himself in shape and while all he did was run around the perimeter of the soccer field once, it’s definitely progress. Again, don’t expect to see him play for CBA next year, but for the sake of his bright future, let’s hope he returns in the not so distant future at 100 percent.

– There are two major differences between this year’s CBA team right now and last year’s team. First off, they don’t have a sweeper like Kevin Romano, which is not all bad. Romano could bring the ball forward and distribute which is a tremendous asset, but it also left CBA vulnerable to counters. CBA started Dan Pissimenti at sweeper Monday against Freehold Twp., but the junior hurt his left ankle and had to leave the game. CBA would love to find a player in the mold of a Romano, but at the very least, they could put a body back there to be more of a source of protection for Kyle Dillaway.

The other difference is that their not as dangerous inside the 18, at least not yet anyway. This group hasn’t missed a beat in the midfield, but once they get into the attacking third, they are still a little hesitant. Brian Smith and Tim West look like they’re going to be the guys up top and West, in particular showed an ability to be dangerous, but CBA had five guys lke that last year, whereas Smith and West have been the only guys to really attack the goal so far. Zach Hicks showed some ability and I think Nick Villani will find a groove at some point, but right now, the Colts are looking for a few more players with a nose for the goal.
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Week Ahead; a couple more tidbits

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 13, 2010

Monday is the first really full day of division games, highlighted by Freehold Township at CBA at 3:45 and Toms River East at Toms River North at 7. You’ll notice those game are labeled with “ASM Game of the Day/Nigh”, which will indicate the games I’m going to be covering on a given day. I sometimes decide last minute, so don’t count a game out if it’s not labeled. I’ll have those games covered in full today, although for those of you who are used to the videos being free, they become part of the subscription service today. To sign up to be a member of allshoremedia.com, just click here and follow the steps and to see what a membership gets you, have a look here.

CBA is coming off a loss to Delbarton in which they played well between the 18s, but struggled to finish and keep the ball out of the net. Finishing may be tough again today with Freehold Township Phil Horan in net poised for another strong year, now as a junior. Township beat a dangerous Southern team 2-0 on Saturday, and are arguably the most talented team in the division this season. These two teams have played some classic games in the last two years so this one should be fun.

As for the TR showdown, Toms River South is the consensus pick for the top spot in A South, but all three Toms River’s have a chance to take the division and the winner of tonight’s game makes the first move. Toms River East appears to be farther along in their development, but North still has a lot of weapons. Right now though, I kind of go into this one expecting East to win because they’re still a lot stronger in the back at this point. By the end of the year it could be a different story, but watch for East to make an early run to the top of the standings.

Some other matches to keep an eye on around the Shore today

Manalapan at Midd. North – The Braves had a down season last year and while there appear to be four favorites to contend for the A North title – Freehold Twp., CBA, Marlboro and Howell – the winner of this one emerges as the early darkhorse. Middletown North has a really good nucleus of seniors and sophomore with postseason experience from last year, while Manalapan is a year older and a year better despite not having a chance to play in the postseason.

Jackson at Southern – Last year, Southern’s win over Jackson was Ethan Decker’s breakout game, but something tells me the Jags are going to do whatever it takes to make sure he doesn’t beat them. Just as Decker sparked the Rams last year, Garrett Muzikowski has give the Jags a jolt of youthful energy early in the season and just like Decker last year, Muzikowski is playing on a team with a very good core of upperclassmen. I like Jackson as the wild card in this A South race and while I think the Toms Rivers are the best three teams, Jackson may very well be in the running for a division title come October.

Brick at Central – The Green Dragons had an ugly debut against Point Boro on Thursday and now they must take on a Central team that has a level of returning talent similar to that of Point Boro. If Central handles Brick in this one, it my signal that B South is nothing but a two-horse race between Central and Lacey, although the jury is still out on a much-improved Barnegat team that put a score into a lot of teams at the end of last year.

Monsignor Donovan at Point Boro – This is an underrated rivalry game in the Shore Conference and it’s good to see it intact even with the division realignment. Monsignor Donovan has a lot of holes to fill from last year and Point Boro certainly looks better on paper, but that doesn’t mean much on a given day. Donovan played Toms River South tough in a 1-0 loss on Friday and I’m sure with the weekend to prepare, they’re ready to come at the Panthers full bore.

Asbury Park at Red Bank – Red Bank shouldn’t have a problem with the Blue Bishops, but this is a story-line game for Bucs coach Sean Reid, who coached Asbury Park in the 90s and had some success with a program that hasn’t quite been able to put it together. Asbury Park actually has some ability this year and they almost stole one at Manchester on Saturday. Look for them to get better as the season wears on.

The rest of the week is shaping up to be a good one, and here are some of the games and stories I’m looking forward to.
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