Manley's Blog

SCT Round of 16 Picks

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on October 22, 2011

The first round of the Shore Conference Tournament had a fair sprinkling of upsets with the road team winning six of the 10 games between Thursday and Friday. One of those wins was No. 16 Rumson beating No. 17 Manasquan at the Sea Girt Army Camp, but other than that, you can consider half the first-round results to be upsets.

Looking a little deeper into the numbers, we find this:

First Round Records

A North: 2-0 (1-0 on the road)
A Central: 2-1 (2-1 on the road)
A South: 1-2 (all at home)
B North: 1-3 (0-1 on the road)
B Central: 0-2 (0-1 on the road)
B South: 2-0 (1-0 on the road)
C Central: 2-2 (2-1 on the road)

The big surprise is that Class A South has struggled so far despite all of its teams playing their first tournament games at home. Granted, Toms River East and Toms River North have yet to play, but Jackson Memorial, Southern and Toms River South all had home games against teams seeded Nos. 21 through 23 and all three struggles. If not for Toms River South’s four-goal outburst in the final 15 minutes of a 5-3 win over Long Branch, A South would have gone 0-for-3.

B North also struggled with Ocean and Freehold losing home games, but to be fair, Middletown South was a very tough draw for Ocean and Long Branch also gave Toms River South trouble before falling apart in the last 15 minutes.

It will be interesting to see how Toms River North handles a Middletown South team that has gained a head of steam lately, as well as Toms River East against crosstown rival Monsignor Donovan. Colts Neck will also try to avoid the same fate as B North co-champ Freehold while keeping B North in the tournament.

Saturday is always one of the more fun soccer days of the year with every team now in action. There only appears to be one game that could be considered a total toss-up, with the other seven games having clear favorites. Actually the second-most even match-up is probably No. 20 seed Middletown South at No. 4 Toms River North, which is probably closer than most people think, but still shouldn’t be one of the most even match-ups of the round of 16. Here’s a look at the lineup.

(16) Rumson-Fair Haven at (1) CBA

It’s going to take some good fortune and some great play for any team to knock of CBA and Rumson will need a lot of each to pull off a stunner. The Bulldogs get some of that luck right off the bat because CBA senior midfielder Nick Villani is out with an ankle injury he suffered Monday against Freehold Township, according to Colts assistant Jeff Matson. Villani will be considered day-to-day after Saturday, so there is a chance that the Colts could be without one of their best players for a sizable chunk of this tournament. Villani is probably CBA’s most athletic player, with the possible exception of Bob Cartas, and he’s also one of its most fearless, so Rumson’s objective should be to be as physical as allowable with the Colts. One good thing about the Bulldogs is that they can play a few different styles competently, so if there is a way to approach playing CBA, Rumson is a team that can play it. At this point though, we’re still all trying to talk ourselves into the notion that CBA might be beatable. They might be, but not yet. The Pick: CBA 3-0

(18) Monsignor Donovan at (2) Toms River East

These two teams were supposed to play a little more than a week ago, but the rain changed that. Instead, the two Toms River schools will face off in the SCT and there are a lot of reasons to like both teams at this point in the season. It’s not hard to see why Toms River East is the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The Raiders have lost only one game all season and are a senior-loaded team with a lot of defense and a number of scorers on the roster. The one team that beat the Raiders was Toms River North and the Mariners walloped Monsignor Donovan 5-1, which would seem to bode well for Toms River East. This, however, is a healthier, more confident Monsignor Donovan team that just beat a dangerous Shore side in the first round of the tournament. Monsignor Donovan has players that can hold the ball and hit it with authority, so this won’t be anything resembling a cakewalk for Toms River East. It will, however, be a win. The Pick: TR East 1-0

(14) Manalapan at (3) Howell

Normally, a top-three seed playing a team it has already defeated twice by a combined 8-1 would stick out as a trap scenario for the favorite. But this is Howell vs. Manalapan, and no matter what the circumstances, Manalapan always has Howell’s full attention and vice versa. The Rebels look like the most dangerous team in the tournament not named CBA and their first test will be perhaps its fiercest rival over the last five years, which means the game will definitely be intense. Manalapan has a few dangerous scorers and is always tough in the back thanks to a defense-first approach, so Howell will have to earn it. I don’t see Howell running up the score like it did in the first two games, because Manalapan will definitely throw 10 players behind the ball and commit to keeping the Rebels out of the net. Howell, though, is hard to keep down and eventually the Rebels, on their home field, will figure it out. The Pick: Howell 2-0

(20) Middletown South at (4) Toms River North

It appears Toms River North will have to go through Class A North if it is to win the Shore Conference Tournament and that possible A North gauntlet starts with a revved-up Middletown South team coming off an overtime win against Ocean. Middletown South look good enough to play with Toms River North, but injuries could be an issue. There’s nothing keeping anyone out of the lineup, but the Eagles are playing banged up right now and that might be a factor on Saturday. North, meanwhile, is rested and ready to build on a deep SCT run last year that ended with a loss to CBA in the final. This match-up may give North as many problems as a potential match with Freehold Township on Tuesday, but on turf, with some rest and with tournament experience, North should find a way against a dangerous Middletown South team. The Pick: Toms River North 2-1

(21) St. John Vianney at (5) Freehold Township

The Lancers are coming off the first penalty kick victory of the tournament having survived 100 minutes with Jackson Memorial, maybe the most physical team in the Shore Conference. Vianney has been one of the most Jekyll-and-Hyde teams in the Shore and while this season has been a crazy one for SJV, it seems to be heading in the right direction after a good showing on the road against Jackson. Freehold Township is another physical team that will look to play in the middle of the field more than Jackson does, but the Pats are a bit banged up, which might even up the sides a little bit. The interesting storyline to watch Saturday will be the full-fledged return to goal by Phil Horan, who played the second half of a 3-1 loss to CBA on Monday. With Horan back and SJV’s Matt Niebling playing well, this game might feature the best goalkeeper matchup on Saturday, which may mean a rather low score. I see a little more action, just because that field tends to be conducive to scoring. The Pick: Freehold Township 2-1

(22) Central at (6) Holmdel

I’m running out of opportunities to pick upsets and this is another game I just don’t see the home team coughing up. Holmdel is fired up for another shot at the SCT after last year’s tournament ended in the quarterfinals and the Hornets are rounding into good health in time for a postseason run. Central was impressive in the final 15 minutes of a win over Southern, but the first 65 minutes were an exhibition by the Rams. Still, the young Golden Eagles grew up fast an confidence is huge for a team that relies heavily on juniors, sophomores and a couple of freshmen. With Holmdel’s defense, skilled midfield and dynamic scoring up top, Central’s only hope is that Holmdel struggles finishing. It could happen and maybe this is the upset, but it’s not likely that Holmdel can’t score. The Pick: Holmdel 2-0

(10) Toms River South at (7) Lacey

I’m sure a lot of people expect the tournament-tested team from Class A South to go on the road and beat Lacey again, but I’m thinking the other way. Toms River South was much sharper than Lacey in a 3-1 win earlier this season, but as far as possession and skill goes, Lacey looked basically even with the Indians. Toms River South just finished with more precision in the first meeting, but to give South its due, that’s what makes Toms River South tough: they finish. So this game will probably be more about how Lacey finishes and they showed in a 6-0 win over Point Beach that the Lions can do plenty of that. This is the real toss-up game of the second round and the only one in which a win by either team wouldn’t be considered an upset. I see two even teams that look like they should split a season series, which is bad news for South, good news for Lacey. The Pick: Lacey 3-2

(24) Point Boro at (8) Colts Neck

Class B North took it on the chin in the first round and now Colts Neck is the only team left from said division. The Cougars have played well and were sharp in a win over the Lakewood on Thursday, while the other three B North teams that bit the dust early – Freehold, Long Branch and Ocean – had warning signs that they could be in trouble. Point Boro took out Freehold in the first round, so the Panthers have to feel good about their chances Saturday. They have been coming on strong as some of the new pieces have rounded into form and what was once a team that looked like it was due for a lost season without the injured Tori Remondelli now has something to play for. One more win and the Panthers will have a shot to play CBA for the second straight year, which is certainly a nice way to test yourself for the state tournament. Unfortunately for Point Boro, they are running into a very skilled, young, Colts Neck team that is really coming into its own. The Cougars should take care of business and then give CBA and interesting test on Tuesday. The Pick: Colts Neck 3-1

That makes zero upsets. I’m getting soft in my old age.


2 Responses

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  1. m.h said, on October 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    way to go point boro

  2. klik said, on February 26, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Fenomenala ocena. Właśnie takiej informacji szukałem. Wyślę
    tę stronę znajomym. Przyrzekam że będę tu zaliczał koleje odwiedziny.
    Powodzenia w dalszym tworzeniu.

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