Manley's Blog

One In, One Out and One Champ

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on November 17, 2010

As far as the Shore teams are concerned, Tuesday was a pretty predictable, yet noteworthy evening. St. Rose and Holmdel were the far better teams in their respective games, while Freehold Township came up on the wrong end of an even match-up that came down to which team blinked first. Some quick thoughts on each game.

Champs at Last

We’ll start with St. Rose, because after all, they are the champions. The Roses were clearly the better team on the field and although the shot differential was a modest 12-8 in favor of St. Rose, Oratory Prep did not have any chance that looked overly scary, while St. Rose had two close shots and two or three crosses across the front of the net that went untouched. If Oratory Prep was going to have any chance in this one, their only window to strike was in the first eight minutes or so, because once St. Rose got a feel for the flow of the game, they dominated. Brendan Canning and Ian Culley will get the glory for scoring the goals and the assists, and rightfully so, but kudos are in order for John Scotto up top and Christian Bozinos in the middle, who had great tournaments and stood out on Tuesday. Those four really emerged as a dangerous quartet during the playoffs and stepped up big Tuesday. I also liked how Paul Grodeska and Chris Tuzzio played on the outsides and Cliff Clark was his steady self on the defensive end.

I know some people were quick to criticize the level of competition in NPB once St. Rose won (apparently, there are a lot of Harry Potter fans who read APP.com), but come on now. The structure is the same every year and even if this particular field of teams was average, it takes a consistent program to keep getting to the finals like St. Rose has done. Not every team can beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, ya know?

One more to go

Holmdel is a win away from a state title and thanks to Chatham, the Hornets won’t have to content with Montville and Rutgers-bound senior J.P. Correa. They will, however, have to deal with a Chatham team that is the best they’ve seen all year. If Tuesday is any indication, Holmdel appears to be ready.

I missed all three goals in the game but after talking to coach John Nacarlo after these games, he’s pretty pleased with how his guys are playing, even in those 1-0 survival jobs from the previous two rounds. If we’re calling a spade a spade, Holmdel has caught a few breaks along the way during the tournament and they’ve managed to dodge some of the more notable teams in both Central and South Jersey. Hopewell Valley and Hightstown are pretty good teams that offer a couple problems for a team like Holmdel, but Princeton was the only team that had been there before and they would have made Holmdel come to them. Getting rid of Princeton early was a break, and although I think Holmdel is the better team, Princeton would have had some factors working in its favor. Hammonton, meanwhile, just did not have the firepower to hang with Holmdel. They’re a hard-working group – one that Nacarlo said reminds him of his 2006 sectional championship team – but Holmdel can smell it at this point. It takes more than just hard work to win at this time of year.

And how about Zach Bond? Alex Castiglia had the two-goal game, but Bond scored his third game-winning goal to continue his run as the Mr. Clutch of the Shore Conference. I never thought I’d refer to a 15-year-old as “Mr.” but I guess Bond has earned a measure of respect.

The guy who hasn’t received enough credit is Rishi Desai. He came in and stabilized the sweeper spot and all he’s done this postseason is anchor five straight shutouts in front of Dan Marino. Holmdel will try to pitch a 480-minute shutout for the postseason with a win over Chatham, which should challenge the Hornets in the middle.

End of the Line

I thought size would be part of the scouting report of the Freehold Township-Cherokee game, but I wasn’t sure it would come into play. What I overlooked was how it could affect Phil Horan, who is not overly tall. Freehold Township has size to match up with Cherokee’s big boys, but when the ball is in the air, it can be easy to lose and that could very well have been an issue on the Cherokee goal, which happened thanks to a dummy in the air that fooled Horan.

Freehod Township outshot all of its opponents throughout the tournament, but they did have trouble putting it all together at times around the net. All things considered, the Pats had a great run, they won a sectional title and they gave Cherokee a hard-fought game in defeat.

One thing on Cherokee. If the Chiefs beat Hunterdon Central on Monday, that will mean the Chiefs will have won the Group IV title a year after the Indians (Toms River South) won it. Someone may have seen this coming.

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