Manley's Blog

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.

River Runs Wild

Toms River North wasn’t the only A South team to score an impressive win on Saturday. Toms River South beat Manalapan 3-0 behind senior sweeper Mike Rutilio’s first two goals of the season and Toms River East got two goals in the later part of the first half to settle in and beat Central 2-0. For South, Tom O’Neill nailed down his eighth shutout of the season, which is tied for third in the Shore Conference with three other keepers. O’Neill has allowed only one goal all season long while starting nine games and appearing in10.

I came into the year thinking that Toms River North and South could be No. 1 and 2 in the Shore in some order, but after watching the top three A North teams, Marlboro and Colts Neck, I backed off a bit. Toms River North had some issues to sort out and now that they’re sorted out, the Mariners have a real shot to reach the final. I’m starting to believe the winner of the Holmdel-TRN game is going to be playing for a championship next Saturday. I think that’s gonna be Holmdel, but that’s no slight to North. Holmdel is just that good right now (more on them in a second).

Finders Keepers

O’Neill’s one goal allowed this season is arguably the most impressive keeper statistic this year, but there were a pair of other keepers who did the job on Saturday, one of them in a losing cause. Wall’s Zach Zoller came up big in the second half to help his team protect a 2-0 lead while emerging with his 10th shutout of the season, tied with Freehold Township’s Phil Horan for the most in the Conference. Shutouts don’t always reflect how good a keeper has been, but in Zoller’s case, it’s pretty indicative.

Point Boro keeper Ed Moran has earned a lot of praise this season from various sources, and the most ringing endorsement came from CBA assistant Jeff Matson, whose team beat the Panthers and Moran 3-0 on Saturday. Said Matson:

“If that Point Boro keeper’s not All Shore, I don’t know who is. Our kids came off the field saying that was by far the best keeper they’d seen this year. If it wasn’t for him, it could have been a lot worse.”

They’ll Take It

Howell survived a 1-0 win over No. 19 Ocean by scoring off a corner kick in the 50th minute. Not the prettiest way to win for a team that can beat you in a lot of ways, but it does get the Rebels to the quarterfinals, where it will host Wall in what should be a very competitive game, perhaps the most competitive on Tuesday’s schedule. Howell was up against it for a while, while Wall scored two early ones and let Zoller bring it home, so we’ll see if Howell’s struggle to score carries over at all.

At the same time, give Ocean a lot of credit, because for the third time that he’s been in the tournament, Spartans coach Tom Reilly has got a lot out of his team relative to their seed. The Spartans had a very similar SCT showing in 2007 as a No. 20 seed when they beat Rumson on the road and came within a goal of No. 4 CBA. As a No. 8 seed in 2008, Ocean made it as far as it was supposed to, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to No. 1 Freehold Township 4-0. The Spartans did not qualify for the SCT last year, but did win a road game in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III playoffs, beating Monmouth on the road. I’ll have to keep this in mind next time I’m thinking about picking against Ocean in a postseason game.

No Upset This Time

Shore has been a dangerous team that has come close to pulling off major SCT upsets at different times over the last four years. This time around, it wasn’t close. Holmdel made yet another statement in a season that has been filled with them, beating the Blue Devils 6-0 to advance to the quarterfinals, which they last did in 2006. That’s not a bad sign for Holmdel, because that’s the last time it did a lot of things: win A Central, win a sectional title, start mostly seniors.

Dan Metzger played about 30 minutes total, according to coach John Nacarlo, and still came up with two goals. Even missing a few games this season, Metzger still has put up pretty big numbers (11 goals and two assists). Then again, there are a bunch of players on Holmdel with big numbers. In addition to Meztger’s 34 total points, four other Holmdel players have 19 or more points.  Tim Centineo continued his stellar season with a goal and three assists to increase his totals to seven goals and 13 assists for the season after coming off the bench as a junior. Sophomore Zach Bond still comes off the bench and he has won himself a starting job next year at the very least, scoring two more goals on Saturday to increase his totals to nine goals and five assists. Alex Castiglia had a quiet game Saturday, but he too has been a revelation in his senior year with 11 goals and four assists. Senior Evan Teitelbaum has also had a breakout season at forward with six goals and seven assists. Saturday was only one game, but a score like that on a stage like that makes you wonder how anyone short of CBA will beat this team.

This Week

I won’t officially commit to it yet, but it looks like we’ll have some sort of coverage for each of the four games on Tuesday, assuming the Toms River game is under the lights. I’ve got a solid verbal from Scott Stump to dust off his soccer scorebook and cover a game and Cliff Lavelle, who’s done some great job shooting photos for us this year, should be able to shoot another game for us as well. That leaves me to do a day game and a night game, which should be a lot of fun, especially with two divisional rematches in Freehold Twp.-CBA and TRE-TRS.  I don’t know where exactly Scott, Cliff and I will end up and I’m gonna give those guys dibs, but we’ll all be somewhere. Keep an eye on the site for the next couple days for some more stuff previewing the next few rounds.

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