Boys Soccer – 20 Must-Watch Games During the 2022 Shore Conference Boys Soccer Regular Season
The 2022 high school soccer season in New Jersey is shaping up to be a two-month sprint, with the season opening on Thursday and concluding just 67 days later on Nov. 13. The Shore Conference regular season is only about a month long, with Oct. 8 marking the final Saturday of the regular season and the Shore Conference Tournament cutoff tentatively scheduled Oct. 11 (the SCT particulars are still being finalized).
While the season will be somewhat condensed, there is no shortage of big games on the schedule. Below is a look at just some of the must-see matches involving Shore Conference teams in 2022. You can also check out the entire 2022 Shore Conference regular-season schedule here.
Lacey at Point Boro, Thursday, Sept. 8, 3:45 p.m.
Opening day at the Shore is packed with interesting matchups and the one that might turn out to be the most impactful as it pertains to the division races could very well be in Class B South. Point Pleasant Boro is set up to make a run at its first Class B South championship since 2016, but that road goes through defending B South champion Lacey. The division has multiple championship hopefuls – Manchester and Jackson Liberty are hoping to break through behind talented rosters while Pinelands aims to continue contending with a new-look team – but this opening-day showdown could set the tone for the entire season in B South.
Freehold Township at Rumson-Fair Haven, Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m.
Two of the Shore Conference’s four NJSIAA sectional champions from 2021 clash on the first Saturday of the season in Rumson – the first of three matches for Freehold Township against the other three defending sectional champs from the Shore. The Patriots and the Bulldogs figure to be two of the top public schools at the Shore this season, perhaps even the two best, so this game could carry significant weight in Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Playoff seeding.
Long Branch at Ocean, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 3:45 p.m.
After spending the last four years in Class A North, Long Branch is back in Class B North and figures to be among the favorites in what might end up the Shore’s deepest division in 2022. Ocean is also making its return to the B North division after spending the last two seasons in Class A Central, and it could very well be that those two teams will finish at the top of the standings of their new division. This game is also a rematch of the 2021 NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III semifinals, which Long Branch won, 3-1.
Delran at CBA, Friday, Sept. 16, 4:30 p.m.
Two of the state’s best programs will lock up on the second Friday of the 2022 season, with Delran making the trip north to take on CBA at the Colts’ new, on-campus, turf field. Both teams enter the 2022 with their usual lofty expectations, with CBA a championship contender for the Non-Public A title and Delran the favorite to repeat as Group II champ. The Bears also boast the state’s top scoring threat in junior Drew Roskos, who posted 33 goals in 25 games as a sophomore in 2021.
Rumson-Fair Haven at Holmdel, Thursday, Sept. 22, 3:45 p.m.
There is a strong case to be made that Holmdel vs. Rumson-Fair Haven is the best Shore Conference rivalry of the last decade, with both programs boasting some of their best teams ever during the last 10 years while the two share a division (Class A Central) and an NJSIAA section (Central Jersey Group II). That rivalry reached a tipping point last season, when Rumson beat Holmdel in the Central Group II championship game on a golden goal to win its first ever NJSIAA sectional championship. The Bulldogs return most of their 2021 team, while Holmdel also returns some volume from last season, albeit with several key pieces moved on via graduation.
Toms River East at Toms River North, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m.
Toms River North is in the midst of a brilliant three-year run that the Mariners are hoping to extend for a fourth year. The Mariners graduated nine starters and several depth pieces from 2021, when they dominated the Class A South division and won a third straight NJSIAA sectional championship. This season, the rest of the division is hoping to close the considerable gap between Toms River North and the field and Toms River East has the kind of dynamic talent to be the beneficiary of a more competitive division. Still, Toms River North is the defending champ and has enough back to be considered the favorite, so this Tuesday-night tilt in late September will have plenty of juice on top of the usual atmosphere that comes with a Toms River rivalry match.
Rumson-Fair Haven at Toms River North, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.
Another meeting between reigning sectional champions features Rumson taking a trip down to Toms River in what will be another big game for the Bulldogs when it comes state-tournament seeding. Beating just one of Freehold Township or Toms River North is likely to be a power-point windfall for Rumson and the Bulldogs will have a significant edge in returning experience over Toms River North. This match, however, is on Oct. 1, so Toms River North’s new lineup will have had three-weeks-worth of regular-season games to gel and by the time Rumson come to town, the Mariners are expecting to beat the Bulldogs and make a push for a top seed in the Shore Conference Tournament.
Manasquan at Wall, Oct. 1, 7 p.m.
The Manasquan-Wall rivalry is a natural one that almost always features a tight match, regardless of how good either side is. It just so happens both have been very good lately, with Wall boasting a perennial state championship contender and Manasquan three seasons removed from reaching the Shore Conference Tournament final. This year, Wall will be replacing most of its 2021 lineup, while the Warriors return most of theirs. One of the returning Manasquan starters is sophomore center back Griffin Linstra, the son of Wall coach Garry Linstra – adding another dimension to an already familiar set of opponents.
Freehold Township at CBA, Oct. 3, 4 p.m.
CBA has been the dominant team in the Shore Conference over the past two seasons and the last team to finish No. 1 in the conference was Freehold Township in 2019. That has made for some heated battles between the teams over the past two seasons, with CBA getting the better of the Patriots during that stretch. Freehold Township is under the direction of a new head coach in Mike Tepedino and the Patriots graduated a slew of seniors from last year’s Group IV finalist, but the rivalry with CBA is sure to remain a healthy one at the top of Class A North.
Wall at Rumson-Fair Haven, Oct. 3, 6 p.m.
Rumson will be the favorite to repeat as Class A Central champions and while it could be Holmdel that pushed the Bulldogs the hardest for the division title, a showdown with Wall in early October is likely to be the last hurdle for Rumson to clear in order to capture a second straight division crown. If Wall can get past Holmdel, then this game could also be a de factor division championship match under the lights in Rumson, where the two teams split a pair of games in 2021.
Rumson-Fair Haven at Long Branch, Oct. 8, 10 a.m.
The last Saturday of the regular season features a morning match-up between 2021 sectional semifinalists and will also be Long Branch’s best chance to make a statement regarding its Shore Conference Tournament seeding. Now that the Green Wave are no longer in Class A North, it will have to pick up a key win or two outside of divisional play to maximize its seeding potential and a home game against the defending Central Jersey Group II champion and Class A Central favorite right before the cutoff is an ideal situation.
Monroe Soccer Classic, Oct. 8, at Monroe High School
Jackson Memorial vs. North Brunswick, 1 p.m.
Wall vs. South Brunswick, 2 p.m.
Freehold Twp. vs. Old Bridge, 3 p.m.
Westfield vs. St. Joseph Metuchen, 4 p.m.
Toms River North vs. New Brunswick, 5 p.m.
Delran vs. East Brunswick, 6 p.m.
CBA vs. Monroe, 7 p.m.
The Shore Conference will be well-represented at Monroe’s annual soccer showcase, which features seven total games – five of which will include a team from the Shore. Jackson Memorial will lead things off as the Jaguars look to cap what they hope is a bounceback regular season. Wall follows against Group IV South Brunswick, followed by a potential Central Jersey Group IV postseason preview with Freehold Township taking on Old Bridge. The 2021 SCT finalists will represent the Shore in the final two games on the stadium field, with Toms River North taking on New Brunswick and CBA closing out the showcase by squaring off against the host Falcons.
Freehold Township at Toms River North, Oct. 10, 4 p.m.
Not a lot of the players from last year’s sectional championship teams are back, but their will still be some hard feelings lingering for the ones who do return to renew this Group IV rivalry. After the two teams played a scoreless draw in the regular season, Toms River North pummeled Freehold Township in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. The two teams then collided in the Group IV semifinal on Freehold Township’s pitch and the Patriots got their revenge in the form of a shootout win over the Mariners to advance to the Group IV championship game.
CBA at Ocean, Oct. 11, 3:45 p.m.
The last headline game of the 2022 regular season features CBA taking on Ocean – a rivalry CBA has owned since Ocean stunned the Colts in the 2018 Shore Conference Tournament final. The Spartans are hoping to hang with CBA now that they get a game with the Colts on their home field and, perhaps, make a statement right before the Shore Conference Tournament.