Manley's Blog

State Tournament Previews

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 30, 2010

If you’re a member, you can read the first of four state tournament preview pieces that I’ll be posting over the next 12 hours or so. Just click on the area you’d like to read about and enjoy.

If you’re not a member and you are into high school soccer at all, this should be the feature sells you on the membership. I put a good deal of research and time into these previews and while I’m not exactly giving you a scouting report on every team in the state, I pretty much touch on every team in a Shore Conference bracket. I’m not one to pat myself on the back or try to sell you a bill of goods, but if you want a fairly comprehensive look at the brackets, I think this is worth the read. And worth the 10 bucks, of course.

Click on the Region to view the preview.

Central Jersey
South Jersey
Non-Shore Sections – Sections that don’t contain any Shore teams. This preview will be free and admittedly less comprehensive, seeing as I haven’t actually many if any of the teams.


Saturday Schedule

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 30, 2010

While most of you know about the SCT Boys and Girls finals at night, you may not know about Jackson Memorial’s state tournament game against Old Bridge at 10 a.m. at Geick Park in Old Bridge (On CR-516 off Route 9). I’ll have that updated when it’s over, most likely on Twitter before I put it on the scoreboard.

I’ll have highlights of the boys and girls final up on the site late Saturday night, and you can read the boys preview here. I also did a more feature-type preview on Toms River North’s unique underdog status if you’re into that sort of thing.

SCT Semifinals Preview

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 28, 2010

I did a very long, in-depth preview on both games and you can read each preview if you are a subscriber.



For those of you who just skip right ahead to the picks, I’ll give you the spoiler after the jump.

State Tournament Brackets Posted

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 28, 2010 released the State Brackets Wednesday night. Remember, the tournament is now seeded based on power points instead of record and winning percentage. Some veeeeery interesting match-ups and potential match-ups. More on the brackets in the days to come once I get a break from the SCT.

Rebels With a Clue, Reporter Without One

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 27, 2010

I was going to make a mention of my picks record going into Tuesday’s quarterfinals, but two things stopped me: 1) Nothing crazy happened, so the picks I made were not all that earth-shattering, and 2) Why jinx it? As it turned out, my lack of picking prowess (I jinxed three teams in three state final games last year) finally reared its ugly head today and I went 1-3. In one case, I and everyone else who expected Holmdel to win can’t feel two incompetent because Holmdel was such a juggernaut and there wasn’t much to suggest this was coming just yet. Nothing obvious anyway.

The other two games, in hindsight, were just flat out wrong. Here’s what went wrong for my picks and right for everyone that advanced to Neptune on Thursday.

The Wedding Singer

My favorite Adam Sandler movie by a wide margin is The Wedding Singer and the Shore Conference’s version of Robbie Hart (Sandler’s character in the movie) continued to make a big impact in the SCT. Howell’s Rob Hart scored two goals off free kicks and Howell steamrolled through Wall in the first half and held on in the second to advance to an impressive fourth semifinal in the last five years. I, of course, picked Wall to knock off the Rebels and leave Hart and his Howell buddies singing “Love Stinks” to a horrified wedding party, but instead they spun Wall right ’round, like a record.

Quarterfinals Picks

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 26, 2010

Unfortunately, we can’t cover every game on Tuesday, but we’ll have highlights of Freehold Twp-CBA and TRE-TRS. If anyone is at either the Howell-Wall or TRN-Holmdel game, please post some thoughts. In fact, post if you’re at the other games as well.

All of these games should be competitive, but if there is one in which a team will pull away, I’d say it’s Holmdel beating Toms River North. I just don’t think there is a phase in the game which Toms River North can exploit and in order for the Mariners to win, they me need Holmdel to have an off game to some degree. As well as Toms River North has looked in the last month, Holmdel doesn’t really have a flaw at the moment. But one game can change a lot.

Tuesday is a potentially season-defining game for Freehold Township. If CBA is that much better, then I’m sure the Pats can live with it, but I think everyone is still waiting for a signature performance from Freehold Township. Perhaps we already saw it in the second half of the first loss to CBA, but as an underdog on Tuesday and much healthier than they’ve been in a month, Freehold Township may have that showing in them.

Onto the picks.

CBA over Freehold Township, 3-1
Holmdel over Toms River North, 3-0
Wall over Howell, 1-0
TRE over TRS, 1-0

If you’re a member and you like fall asleep to the soothing tones of my voice, click here for the podcast version.

SCT Elite Eight Set

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 24, 2010

I just realized that I didn’t hit the “publish” button after writing out my picks last night, which means they didn’t appear. If anyone cares, I went 7-1 for the second straight day, which is not all that impressive considering only one road team has won so far.

The one game I got wrong was the one I went to, which was Toms River North topping Colts Neck 2-0. At first glance, that score usually indicates a solid, if not comfortable win, but this one was anything but comfortable for North. They were at times better than Colts Neck on Saturday, but I thought the play was pretty even over the course of 80 minutes and the team that got the better of play at given points was the team that dictated the pace during those points.

The winner did not come until the 78th minute and the tack-on goal was a breakaway with 10 seconds left. And although the winner was an own goal, I’d give more credit to Zach Lobello for making a play than I’d place blame on Anthony Pistola for letting the ball hit his foot and go in. In fact, after watching the video a couple of times, I don’t know if there was anything he could do about it. He would have been better off leaving Tom Defino all by himself and crossing his fingers that Defino missed the ball or the shot. Instead, Pistola stay on Defino’s hip and when Defino missed the ball, it hit Pistola’s foot and bounced the right way for TRN.

I don’t mean to undermine Toms River North’s goal or win, but only to point out that the 2-0 final wasn’t indicative of how close the game was. Lobello made a great play to get the ball into the box and the ball bounced Toms River North’s way. It’s a classic example of making your own break.

A couple of injury notes from this one: TRN forward Rafi Vergara missed the game with a collarbone injury and likely out for some time. Colts Neck freshman midfielder Brandon Tetro went down with a leg injury in the final minutes and had his right knee wrapped in ice after the game. The good news for Colts Neck is that he was walking on it.

SCT Round of 16 Picks

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 24, 2010

I just posted a podcast in which I breakdown each game of the Round of 16. I guess you can call it a breakdown, anyway. Here’s a list of the picks with a score.

(8) Freehold Twp. over (9) Freehold, 2-0

(10) Colts Neck over (7) TR North, 1-0

(6) Wall over (11) St. Rose, 1-0

(5) TR East over (12) Central, 3-1

(4) TRS over (13) Manalapan, 2-1

(3) Howell over (19) Ocean, 3-1

(2) Holmdel over (18) Shore, 4-2

(1) CBA over (16) Point Boro, 4-0

SCT Podcast (Members Only)

SCT Bracket

SCT Schedule

SCT: Day One

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 22, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit it…I’m starting to get a little worried. After a 2009 season filled with dramatic games, I’m starting to think we might be destined for a relatively drab season. Think about the games that highlighted the season. Marlboro’s 7 overtime wins and 11 comeback wins. Toms River North’s overtime thriller over Rancocas Valley in the windy, rainy cold. Every one of Toms River South’s playoff games. It was insane.

This year, I haven’t seen anything close to that, except for CBA’s OT win over Freehold Township and James Walsh’s short-handed goal with 37 second left to tie Monroe in what was basically a showcase game. And now, we just went through the first day of the SCT tournament without an overtime game and with the latest game-winning goal coming in the 63rd minute. I can’t explain it. There have been some great stories this season and some very well-played games, but the drama has been lacking to say the least.

Hopefully, we have some thrillers on tap for Saturday. Maybe I’ll even see one. Enough negative, let’s touch on a couple things from Thursday.


What a shock. Shore has their act together for the postseason. The Blue Devils looked about as impressive as any Shoe Regional team I’ve seen in the short time on the beat and there have been some good ones. Last year’s group was awfully impressive against Raritan in a 4-2 loss, but I haven’t seen Shore dominate a capable team like the way they did Jackson in Thursday’s 4-1 win. If anyone questions whether or not Shore is for real coming out of the always maligned B Central, believe me, they are. Connor McKenzie, Luke Bush, Geoff Briscione and Jon Junqueira are legit players and the sophomore Junqueira in particular is going to score a lot of goals in the next two years. He had a nasty goal taken away on a dangerous play call, then made up for it with a left-footed rip that was on the money. Shore may be as dangerous as ever in CJ II this season, with Delran and Somerville out of the section in the same year.

SCT First Round Picks

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 21, 2010

I just filled out my bracket over at Bracket Maker, which you can do too if you haven’t already (you have until noon). My picks are very…boring. That should be a precursor for the picks to follow, but at least you can hear me out as to why I don’t expect too many surprises in the first round. On to the picks.

No. 24 Asbury Park (7-7-1, 5-4-1) at No. 9 Freehold (11-3-0, 10-2-0)

When: 3 p.m.
Where: Freehold Boro High School
The Skinny: On the surface, this game looks like a severe mismatch for Asbury Park and if the Blue Bishops come out slow, that mismatch could play itself out on the field. Upon further review, however, Asbury Park has a number of players Freehold might have trouble with, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Bishops can put the total team effort together to go with the individual talent. They have done that more this year that in recent years past, but it’s looking more and more like Asbury Park hit a hot streak in the middle of the year and now they’ve come off the cloud. If the Bishops, however, can start the game on a high note and either take the game into the second half close or jump out to a lead in the first 10 minutes, Freehold may get out of its game. That seems a little unlikely too me, because the Colonials have not won 10 straight games by accident. Long Branch threw a lot of ability at Freehold and the Colonials handled it on two different occasions. They should be able to take a punch from Asbury if necessary and still keep moving.
The Pick: Freehold 4-1. Make it 11 in a row for the Boro.