Manley's Blog

The Best 2-5 Team Around

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 5, 2010

Every year, there is a team that falls under the category of “the best team in the state with a record of x-and-x around” and after checking in with the red-hot CBA Colts on Monday, their latest victim appears to be that team. Marlboro lost a lot of seniors from last year’s SCT title team and it appears as though they haven’t had the same good fortune as that team did, but they are the only team I’ve seen so far that can play with CBA. It’s not to say they’re the only team that can beat them, but they’re the only team that can compete with them in a game of soccer in which both teams possess and build from the back. The only other game I’ve seen Marlboro this year was the 4-1 Howell loss and they played well in the first half before falling apart in the second half. My feeling is that Marlboro had some sub-par performances that they got away with because they were both good and lucky and now that they lost some talent from last year, those bad games are turning into losses. In this case, Marlboro played well enough to win, but didn’t.

The Mustangs had a goal called back at the end of the first half because time apparently ran out before the goal scored, but the referees didn’t indicate it until CBA lined up at midfield for the restart. It was a strange ending to the half and a crushing blow to Marlboro, because a two-goal lead at half against CBA is not only an advantage: it’s basically a necessity. The Mustangs may cry foul on this one, but the way I see it, if time ran out, then time ran out. In high school, the half ends when the clock hits 40 or zero, depending on the equipment, and if time was up, then the half is over. If they blew the whistle when they were supposed to, then time still ran out anyway.

Wearing No. 1 Well

What more can you say about CBA? They were challenged more on Monday than they’ve been by any other Shore team and again, the Colts flipped the switch when they had to. They even won a bit short-handed as well, playing without midfielder Alex Bialko (ribs) and defender Alex Lazzaro (concussion), both of whom coach Dan Keane said are out for at least another week. The Colts also welcomed back Dan Pissimenti, who started the season at sweeper before injuring his ankle against Freehold Township on Sept. 13. He scored his first varsity goal today while playing some stopper, pushing up to head in a goal on a corner kick by Nick Villani.

Speaking of Villani, he is one of the handful of players in the Shore that has to be considered for the early player of the year candidates. His goal on Monday was only his first of the season, but you can tell he is getting more comfortable in scoring situations and should be able to rack up somewhere in the neighborhood of six or seven before all is said an done. In the meantime, he has been the Shore’s best distributor, tallying a conference-best 10 assists in nine games. His natural position is in the back and he has even played some outside back for CBA this year, but he has also taken to center midfield as well. CBA is like a lot of teams in that they ask role players from the previous season to step into larger roles in the next year, but what separates CBA from those other teams is that their role players become stars far more frequently. Villani was hurt last year, but like Steve Krachie last year, he was handed the keys to the car and now he’s cruising.

Teams On the Rise

If you’re looking for a couple of teams to break up the top 10 monotony of the last few weeks, may I present to you Manalapan and Freehold Boro. The Braves have won three straight and five of six to climb above .500, with two wins against Top 10 teams Wall and Freehold Township. One of the big moves has been moving Nick Fleres from sweeper to forward, which has paid off in four goals in three games – two of which came in the win over Wall on Saturday. Fleres is a big, strong player, just the kind of athlete that has flourished in Manalapan’s system in the last decade. The Braves appear to have something going now and should be a lot to handle should they carry their run into postseason play.

Freehold was playing very well lately in Class B North, but didn’t have that one noteworthy win until Monday. Colts Neck has had its share of problems, but they are still the most talented team int he division and the Colonials went toe-to-toe with them and beat them. The first meeting between the two teams was even for the first half and very one-sided in the second half, so this comes as a bit of a surprise to me. The one thing that seems to happen a few times every year is that on rainy days like this one, we tend to see more games that could be constituted as “upsets.” For me to say that the weather was the reason Manalapan and Freehold won Monday is not fair because I wasn’t at either game, but it’s something to consider if you’re ready to believe in either as a Top 10 team. I know I’m thinking about it.

Goalkeepers Shine in A South

Although I wasn’t at either game, I got glowing reviews for TR East’s Bob Varga and Southern’s Damien Irons in goal. Irons helped keep Southern in the game against Toms River East until Ethan Decker finally scored in the 70th minute (took him long enough) for his ninth goal of the year to force a 1-1 tie with the Indians. Bob Varga picked up the shutout in a 2-0 East win against Jackson, and according to Raiders coach Ted Gillen, Jackson was in East’s end for a lot of the game. East has been a little up-and-down this year, but Varga is the kind of goalie that allows a team to get away with some lapses, and I think that’s a big reason East continues to win.

TR South goalkeeper Tom O’Neill has now allowed one goal in each of his last two games after pitching four straight shutouts to open the year. Apparently, you have to be very good to score on him: the two players to score on the senior this year are Lacey’s Dan Ratyniak and Decker, the two leading scorers in the Conference through Monday’s games.

Tuesday Storylines

Hornets One Step Closer

Holmdel can basically put a ribbon on its Class A Central championship with a win over St. John Vianney on Tuesday. The Hornets rolled over two-time defending champion Raritan 5-1 on Monday and a win over the Lancers would mean that only Rumson could pass Holmdel down the stretch, and that’s only if the Bulldogs beat Red Bank on Tuesday as well. Holmdel’s last three division games are against Red Bank, Rumson and Raritan, a trio that the Hornets outscored by a combined total of 12-2 in three wins. They would need only one of those games to clinch their first division title since 2006 if they can beat Vianney on Tuesday.

Buc-ing the Trend

Red Bank faces a virtual must-win game against Rumson if the postseason is going to happen for the Bucs. Rumson needs the game to stay in the division race, so there should be plenty of intensity in this one. Red Bank hasn’t faired as well on the road as it has at home, so getting the Bulldogs on its home turf should help on Tuesday. If Red Bank can put together a run in the next two weeks, then it’s very likely that five A Central teams will be in the Shore Conference Tournament.

The B North Upset Aftermath

Colts Neck will try to bounce back from its second division loss against 1-7 Neptune, which is probably more about checking the demeanor of the team than the result of the game. Colts Neck may have been lulled to sleep by assertions that B North was down this year, or perhaps we all overestimated how good they really were. I don’t think we’ll be able to judge Colts Neck until Sheehan is back in goal and the postseason is upon us, so for now, I’m going to declare B North way better than we thought.

For Freehold, they face a classic trap game against an increasingly desperate Monmouth team that has lost three straight. Remember that Monmouth already has a win over Freehold, which may actually help the Colonials because now they know they can’t sleep on the Falcons. Freehold still has to deal with Long Branch and Red Bank Catholic, but the finish line is getting closer for the Colonials as they attempt to hang a second straight B North banner. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think there was any way we’d be talking about a tight race for the B South title this late, but it is very much in the balance at this point.

Under the Lights

Red Bank Catholic hosts Ocean under the lights at Count Basie Park Tuesday night in a big game for a couple of team sitting at .500. Ocean has actually struggled to finish games outside of its huge win over Colts Neck a couple of Saturdays ago, one of which was a loss to RBC earlier in the year. The Caseys have played much better since starting 0-3 and still have a shot at a Non-Public title and a long shot at an outright Class B North title.

B Central Powers on Edge

Normally, the second Shore-St. Rose game is the unofficial B Central championship game, but that is not the case in the new topsy turvy version of this division. With Asbury Park very much alive in the division race, the winner of Tuesday game between the Blue Devils and Purple Roses at St. Rose athletic fields isn’t necessarily on its way to a division title. Shore would have a good chance with games against Point Beach, St. Rose and Asbury Park already in the rear view mirror, and St. Rose would presumably only need a split with Asbury Park to win the title if the Roses can survives the Devils on Tuesday. It’s been 11 days since St. Rose walked off a 1-0 loser to Point Beach, which also happens to be the last time they played. Cloudy skies have literally followed the Roses around for almost two weeks now and I’m sure they’ll be looking to out the bad weather behind them with a win.

All this talk about tomorrow, and none of it may happen because of the weather. It seems as though teams with turf are doing everything possible to play, which means at the very least, Neptune, Vianney, Matawan and RBC should all play home games tomorrow unless there is a downpour. There may be a break in the rain, so hopefully we get some games in. Good weather is a comin’, so until then keep dry, and if you decide to stay in, I’ll have some highlights for you from two games tomorrow and another one or two on Wednesday. Players of the Week from last week will be done sometime tomorrow as well, so be on the lookout for that.

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One Response

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  1. Rich said, on October 5, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Tom O’Neill was not in goal for TRS last night.


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