Manley's Blog

Tuesday State Tourny Picks

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 16, 2010

Down to 20 teams in the state and three of them are locals. Let’s get right to the business at hand.

Non-Public B Final
St. Rose (17-5) vs. Oratory Prep (7-11-1)
At The College of New Jersey, 5:30 p.m.

It may appear that St. Rose passed its toughest test when it beat Sacred Heart 4-3, but the proverbial champagne is still on ice for good reason. Oratory Prep certainly looks the part of the “hot team”, winning three straight playoff games after entering the tournament with only four wins against a solid but manageable schedule. The Purple Roses completely picked apart Trenton Catholic and survived a few breakdowns in an otherwise strong game against Sacred Heart, so they are playing the kind of soccer they want to play coming in. It’s always hard to read this game because there are usually two or three good teams in Non-Public B and sometimes you don’t know which ones are until the very end. I know St. Rose is one of them. I’m not sure about Oratory yet.
The Pick: St. Rose 3-1

Group IV Semifinal
Freehold Township (16-6-2) vs. Cherokee (15-5-2)
At Neptune Memorial Field, 7 p.m.

Freehold Township caught some breaks on the way to a CJ IV title, mostly with regard to their draw. As a No. 3 seed, the Patriots were the home team in all four rounds and outscored their opponents10-2 on their rocky, balding pitch and needed penalty kicks to win on turf against Steinert in the quarterfinal. Cherokee, meanwhile, won its home game 6-1 over Absegami and then went on the road for three straight wins over Toms River North, No. 1 Eastern and Shawnee. The Chiefs not only handled their business on the road, but they did it in thrilling fashion, much like Toms River South did last year on the way to a Group IV title. Cherokee beat TR North on a goal with two seconds left to win 3-2 and beat Shawnee in penalty kicks despite the Renegades scoring with six seconds left to send the game to overtime. Freehold Township has outplayed its opponents, as evidenced by a heavy advantage in shot margin, but Cherokee has been through the fire and walked out as perhaps the coolest customer in Group IV. Size should not be as big a factor in this game as it’s been for Cherokee, which will have 6-5 Matt Jeffery to deal with in the Freehold Township midfield.
The Pick: Cherokee 2-1

Group III Semifinal
Holmdel (20-1-0) vs. Hammonton (14-9-0)
At Toms River North, 7 p.m.

Sometimes records don’t tell the story. They do here. Holmdel has not been this far since 2006, but Hammonton hasn’t been this far since…well, ever actually. The Hornets are a team loaded on senior talent that has been planning on this state championship run since they stepped foot on the practice field in their freshman season in the fall of 2007. Dan Metzger, Andrew Zheng, Rishi Desai, Dan Marino and Matt Sawaged all saw time as freshmen, and they all probably figured to have at least a sectional title to their credit by now. As it is, the senior season has been the magical one and so far this season, no team has been able to outplay the Hornets, not even the Toms River North team that pulled out a Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal win. Hammonton, meanwhile, was just hoping to open some eyes with a senior class that has come a long way in four years and they have done just that. The Blue Devils are hard-nosed and skilled up the middle. That’s not a good place to try to attack Holmdel. Hammonton may be able to hang around like Hightstown and Hopewell Valley did against Holmdel, but the Hornets bombarded both of those teams with shots and they may be due to rip up the net. The final would be a much closer match-up, and we should see that play out for Holmdel.
The Pick: Holmdel 3-0

The Rest of the Field

Non-Public A Final
St. Augustine (20-1-0) vs. Pingry (18-1-1)
At The College of New Jersey, 8 p.m.

Pingry had the inside track to finish the year as the top team in the state, but they stumbled in the sectional quarterfinal. This year, they upset this year’s favorite, Seton Hall, in penalty kicks and appear poised to finish what they couldn’t last year. St. Augustine, meanwhile, has some unfinished business of its own to tend to after losing to Pingry in the 2008 final. The Hermits have only one loss as well and held off a scrappy St. Joe’s team in the sectional final. Randy Falk of Pingry and Connor Hurff of Augustine are two All-State type performers and they’ll put on a good show in primetime. I like Pingry to make it two in three years.
The Pick: Pingry 2-1

Group IV Semifinal
West Orange (21-2-1) vs. Hunterdon Central (17-6-0)
At Wathung Hills, 5 p.m.

Two weeks ago, this would have been a no-brainer pick in favor of West Orange. Now, I’m not so sure. Hunterdon Central had as impressive of a run through its section as any team, winning four games by a combined margin of 14-2. In that run, Hunterdon Central won three road games against No. 2 Kearny (4-0), No. 3 Westfield (2-1 in OT) and No. 1 Bridgewater-Raritan (4-1), dominating the top two seeds in the bracket. The Red Devils have now won nine straight and advanced farther than a loaded 2008 team, which lost in the Central Group IV final to North Brunswick. West Orange has been a legitimate top five team in the state all season long and is the favorite to win it all, but they have run into the team that might be playing the best of any still playing. West Orange is supposed to win, but Hunterdon Central was supposed to win in years past.
The Pick: Hunterdon Central 1-0

Group III Semifinal
Montville (24-1-0) vs. Chatham (21-1-1)
At Ridge, 5 p.m.

A great Group III match and no matter which team survives, the winner would give Holmdel a great game in the final on Friday. Montville will have the best player on the field in J.P. Correa, but Chatham has an impressive resume and a balanced group. Montville, though, appears to have benefited from a late-season loss to Pequannock and Chatham did not see much of a challenge in North 2 Group III. I’ll take the star player and the more battle-tested team.
The Pick: Montville 2-0

Group II Semifinal
Glen Rock (17-3-2) vs. Cliffside Park (22-1-0)
At Millburn, 5 p.m.

Cliffside Park has been a Group II power lately and you have to figure they’ll be geared up for another shot at the title after coming up one win short last year. Glen Rock tough, just took out arguably the most talented team in teh Group in Kinnelon, and in impressive fashion at that. The winner of this one is a heavy favorite in the final. I liked Glen Rock’s resume coming in and I still do.
The Pick: Glen Rock 1-0

Group II Semifinal
North Plainfield (14-6-1) vs. Haddon Height (19-2-1)
At Washington Twp., 5 p.m.

Cinnaminson and Delran were supposed to be the Goliath’s in South Jersey II, but Haddon Heights had the slingshot all along. The Garnets lost only twice all year, once to West Deptford in the first game of the year and once to Cherry Hill West, and have won 10 straight since dropping the CHW game on Oct. 14. North Plainfield won a hard-fought battle against Delaware Valley, but the Canucks give up a lot to Haddon Heights in this one.
The Pick: Haddon Heights 3-1

Group I Semifinal
Wallington (21-2-0) vs. Glen Rock (19-5-1)
At Indian Hills, 4:30 p.m.

Wallington is as dynamic as they come in Group I and while Glen Rock has played its share of tough teams, it doesn’t have that one win that makes me think they can stop the firepower that Wallington has. The winner of this game should have the inside track to win the whole thing.
The Pick: Wallington 2-1

Group I Semifinal
South River (18-5-0) vs. Pitman (20-1-0)
At Toms River South, 7 p.m.

The most compelling Group I story may be “How good is Pitman?” The Panthers have done all that could be asked of them this year, losing only to Sacred Heart – the No. 1 seed in South Jersey Non-Public B –  by a 1-0 tally and have been dominant in the tournament with a 9-1 scoring advantage over their opponents. South River has proven to be good in the big moment, but Pitman is ready for a shot at the title.
The Pick: Pitman 3-1

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One Response

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