Manley's Blog

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, 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.


– Red Bank hosts Raritan in a game that may give us a sign as to who the wild card team is in A Central. Holmdel and Vianney have the most talent on paper, but these two teams have some potential to throw a wrench in the best laid plans of each division favorite.

– I have a feeling B North could end up being a jumbled mess behind Colts Neck after the first day of games on Saturday, so it’s worth keeping an eye on every game. Ocean travels to Freehold and the Spartans could put the Colonials in a tough 0-2 hole and really vault themselves into the early running with a second straight win to open the season. I still think RBC could be a dangerous team despite an 0-2 start and a 2-0 loss to Long Branch Saturday, but hanging with Colts Neck will be difficult to say the least. I’m going to check out Long Branch at Neptune, who will have to play without Bobby Crenshaw this season because of what sounds like some red tape that comes with the transfer process, according to a comment his mother, Dina Crenshaw, posted. Crenshaw transferred from a Charter School, which can always be complicated. Still, Neptune has some talent and could pose a problem for LB.


– Howell and Marlboro headline the action in Class A North in a game that features two teams that will play different styles this season. Howell coach Rich Yuro has already said he wants to play more direct this year, while Marlboro will play its typical possession game. This game is also Marlboro’s opener and it will be interesting to see if they show any ill-effects from the eight-day layoff between their last scrimmage and Wednesday.

– Jackson hosts the the defending Group IV champion Toms River South on Wednesday in a game that will tell us just how serious the Jaguars are as contenders in A South. One coach told me that he thought Jackson would win the division this year, and that’s quite a statement considering how good the Toms River teams are.


– Freehold Township plays Manalapan in the lone A North game of the day. If the Braves can beat Middletown North in the opener, they’ll have a chance to get off to a 2-0 start against a Township team playing its third game in four days.

– There are two interesting games on the A Central slate, with Red Bank hosting Vianney and Raritan hosting Holmdel. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that Raritan is going to be very good again and this will be their first test against a ranked opponent. Red Bank faces a big game against the Lancers because if they beat Raritan on Tuesday, this game could put the Bucs in great position in the division race. On the flip side, if they lose to Raritan on Tuesday, the Bucs have to win or draw to avoid the dreaded 0-2 division record and 1-3 overall, and that’s only assuming they beat Asbury.


– The battle for Middletown is the lone A North game on the slate and these two always play each other tough. North has a decided advantage in returning talent, but South will be a high-energy team again this season, and energy does work from time to time.

– The rest of the schedule is interdivisional matchups, highlighted by Lacey taking on Toms River East. Lacey can make a real statement here after coming up just short in overtime against Wall on Friday. The Lions lost their entire midfield from last year but Dan Ratyniak move back from forward and has made the Lions a dangerous team once again, this time out of Class B South rather than Class A South. East, meanwhile, may be looking to go 3-0 or avoid 1-2 depending on how their showdown with Toms River North goes on Monday.

– Central and Monsignor Donovan renew their rivalry, formerly of Class B South. Central has four games outside of B South this year and this one, along with a game against St. Rose on Oct. 15 will be the biggest for the Golden Eagles, whose status in the SCT has suffered in recent years because of a light schedule out of the division. Donovan, meanwhile, has no such issue with regards to strength of schedule and can score major points with a win over a good team like Central. They may need to considering they have to play Wall and Point Boro twice each in their division and still have dates against Toms River North and Toms River East before the SCT cutoff on Oct. 18.

– Barnegat hosts Monmouth in a game that is interesting in that a Bengals win could mean the beginnings of a 6-0 start. Monmouth is arguably the Bengals’ toughest game before a Sept. 24 showdown with Central, although Lakewood and Brick could both prove to be landmines as well. As I’ve said before, B North teams may just beat each other up so Monmouth could really use the win, especially if they come in 0-3 off losses to tough Shore and Freehold teams.


A light schedule features two big games, the first being Point Boro at Toms River South. The Panthers have an awful lot of skill and can put the ball in the net, even against the defending Group IV champs. There is a long week ahead before we get to this game, but I’m putting everyone on upset alert here. Point Boro is legit and while I like TR South better on paper as I’m sure most people do, it only takes 80 minutes to change perception.

– St. Rose hosts St. John Vianney in a game that should be fun to watch if only because it’s two good teams playing on the best field in the Shore Conference, and maybe the state. Vianney is poised for a big year and could pick up a nice resume builder here, while St. Rose needs every win it can get outside of B Central, especially after losing to Wall 4-1 on Saturday night.

Follow me on twitter to get up-to-date scores all week and sign up for a membership so you can see all the extras at the end of the week, which in addition to video will include a Top 20 on Sunday (Top 10 is free), Players of the Week in each division (Overall Player of the Week is free), a podcast and a notebook recapping the week. To be honest, some of the notebook content will probably end up on the blog, but I’ll be sure to throw in some new stuff as well.


One Response

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  1. Barbara Dougher said, on September 18, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Interested in older blogs (beginning of September) regarding Howell High School Boys soccer

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