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Class B South has been the division of dynasties over the last decade, with Pinelands ending a five-year reign by Point Pleasant Boro by winning four straight division championships of their own. Now, it is Lacey that is embarking on what it hopes to be a dynasty after running the table for an outright division title in 2021 and getting close enough during a jumbled 2020 season to lay claim to at least a partial division title one year earlier. So, if we are being generous, Lacey will be looking to win a share of a third straight Class B South title this season.

There will be some stiff competition, as all the teams in the division proved to be tough to put away at times during the 2021 season. With enough teams competing for a division title, Class B South should have a battle-tested set of teams come postseason time, which has not been kind to teams coming out of this division over the years. With Lacey reloaded for a run at a repeat and Point Boro, Jackson Liberty and Manchester all holding out hope that they are more loaded than they have been in a long time, there could be some teams to watch out of B South beyond the end of the regular season.

In predicted order of finish

1. Point Pleasant Boro

Before Lacey dethroned four-time Class B South division champion Pinelands last season, it was Point Boro that needed to be dethroned in order to win a B South title. The Panthers won at least a share of a division title in five straight seasons from 2012 to 2016 and have not been able to get back to the top of the heap since. This year will be Point Boro’s best shot at a division title since relinquishing its crown to Pinelands in 2017 and the journey begins with a huge showdown with defending champion Lacey in game No. 1.

For the Panthers to start off strong and thrive down the stretch, they will be leaning on deep group of seniors and juniors that includes seven returning starters and several other players who contributed significantly a year ago. Jared Elliot and Alex Baginski are the top two returning scorers and both will play in the Panthers midfield along with another 2021 contributor in junior John Ward. Point Boro will have a complementary rotation of forwards that includes John Witkowski, Alex Corso, Owen Clearwaters and Gavin Petrosky and no matter the configuration of the front six of the formation, the Panthers should be as dangerous as they have been in the last five years.

There is also plenty of experience on the Point Boro defense, led by returning starters Brett Leschinski, Max Dyba and Chase Norling – all of whom have moved around the formation and possess some scoring ability as well. First-year starter Mason Muolo rounds out the back four and junior Andrew Holper is back in goal after starting in each of his first two varsity seasons. Getting through the B South schedule and reclaiming the division championship is priority No. 1, but if Point Boro can reach its potential, the Panthers will be turning their sights toward postseason titles in about another month.

Head Coach: Pete Casalino, 18th season
2021 Record: 13-8 (5-2, third place in Class B South)
Key Losses: Aidan Huhn (Sr., Defense), Charles Latendorf (Sr., Midfield), Jeff Thompson (Sr., Defense)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Alex Corso, Sr., Forward

John Witkowski, Jr., Forward (3 goals, 3 assists)

Owen Clearwaters, Jr., Forward; Gavin Petrosky, Jr., Forward

Jared Elliot, Sr., Midfield (8 goals, 14 assists)

Alex Baginski, Sr., Midfield (6 goals, 4 assists)

John Ward, Jr., Midfield (3 goals, 1 assist)

Brett Leschinski, Sr., Defense (2 goals, 2 assists)

Max Dyba, Sr., Defense (2 goals, 5 assists)

Chase Norling, Jr., Defense (5 goals, 1 assist)

Mason Muolo, So., Defense

Andrew Holper, Jr., Goalkeeper (7 shutouts)

 

Other Key Players

Ben Fritz, Jr., Midfield

Sean Cleveland, Jr., Forward

Noah McGinn, So., Defense

Liam Shand, So., Midfield

Drew Cardia, So., Midfield

Lacey senior Ethan Riley. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Lacey senior Ethan Riley. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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2. Lacey

If Point Boro and Pinelands started a trend over the last decade of one team dominating the division for stretches of multiple seasons, then Lacey might be looking at several more Class B South championships before giving up the crown. The Lions finally ousted Pinelands from the top of the division last season by running the table on the way to a 15-win 2021 campaign. Lacey would like to not only repeat in Class B South, but the Lions would also like to hit their stride in the postseason this season after getting bounced from both the conference and state tournaments while playing on their home field.

Lacey already had to replace All-Shore center back Kody Besser this season and to make things even more difficult, senior center midfielder Jason Marchitello suffered his second torn ACL in as many years – a devastating development for the senior and his team. The Lions will try to overcome the loss by leaning on senior Logan Gross and a collection of juniors working in and out of the midfield. Jason Velez and Matteo Pasqualichio return after playing big minutes in 2021, while Nick Vecchio, Connor Noon and freshman Aidan Schmitt try to cover for Marchitello.

On either end of the formation, the Lions should again be strong, even without Besser. Mateo Musmanni played some center back last season while fellow senior Chad Moore returns with experience as well. Up top, leading 2021 scorer Ethan Riley is back to lead a group of forwards that will also include senior Tyler Hyle and freshman Danny Cardenas. On the other extreme of the formation, Ryan Fitzgerald returns as one of the county’s steadiest keepers, giving the Lions a balanced XI that has both some holes to fill but proven standouts to help keep Lacey in the championship race.

Head Coach: Steve Torre, sixth season
2021 Record: 15-2-1 (7-0, first in Class B South)
Key Losses: Kody Besser (Defense), Bryan Cardoso (Forward), Dom Iorio (Defense), Connor Bencik (Midfield/Forward), Jack Costa (Midfield), Jason Marchitello (Sr., Midfield) – injured; out for season

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Ethan Riley, Sr., Forward (10 goals, 5 assists)

Tyler Hyle, Sr., Forward (3 goals)

Danny Cardenas, Fr., Forward

Logan Gross, Sr., Midfield (4 goals, 2 assists)

Jason Velez, Jr., Midfield

Aidan Schmitt, Fr., Midfield; Nick Vecchio, Jr., Midfield

Matteo Pasqualichio, Jr., Midfield (3 goals, 3 assists)

Mateo Musmanni, Sr., Defense (2 goals, 3 assists)

Chad Moore, Sr., Defense

Brendan Schuler, So., Defense

Ryan Fitzgerald, Sr., Goalkeeper (7 shutouts)

 

Other Key Players

Connor Noon, Jr., Midfield

Owen Graham, Jr., Defense

C.J. Donohue, Jr., Defense

Mason Mozal, Sr., Defense

 

3. Jackson Liberty

Last season was one of highs and lows for Jackson Liberty and coming off that roller-coaster ride in 2021, the Lions are feeling especially optimistic about 2022. Last year, they beat crosstown rival Jackson Memorial for the first time ever and qualified for the Shore Conference Tournament. Jackson Liberty also did enough winning to qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament, but an excess of red cards during the season disqualified the Lions from actually participating.

The lessons learned in 2021 have Jackson Liberty ready for even greater success in 2022. The Lions bring back eight starters, with one of those starters (Rocco Malangnone) making the switch from the field to goalkeeper. The Lions are aiming to play with three up top and three in the back and five of the seven players on the attack are returning starters: Gerard Cerino, Connor Yurgel, Ryan Pettrow, Jim Capucci and Adal Garcia.

Senior Nick Malangnone and junior Giovanni Batista will lead the defense after starting a year ago and seniors Ricardo Diaz and Sean Mazon will be important pieces as new players in the starting lineup. Sophomore Rich Kosek is the impact newcomer of the bunch and he could make some noise playing up top with Cerino and Yurgel. The group of returning starters led by Cerino makes this one of the more exciting lead-ups to a season in the history of the Jackson Liberty program, with the potential for a division championship squarely in play.

Head Coach: Justin Siering, second season
2021 Record: 9-5-3 (3-3-1, fourth in Class B South)
Key Losses: Ayendi Batista (Goalkeeper), Elton Canka (Forward), Evan Weiskopf (Defense), Youssef Takawy (Defense)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Gerard Cerino, Sr., Forward (5 goals, 1 assist)

Conor Yurgel, Sr., Forward (4 goals, 2 assists)

Rich Kosek, So., Forward

Ryan Pettrow, Sr., Midfield (4 goals)

Jim Capucci, Sr., Midfield (3 goals)

Adal Garcia, Jr., Midfield (1 goal, 2 assists)

Sean Mazon, Sr., Midfield

Nick Malangone, Sr., Defense

Ricardo Diaz, Sr., Defense

Giovanni Batista, Jr., Defense

Rocco Malangone, So., Goalkeeper (2 goals)

 

Other Key Players

Rapolas Mastauskas, Sr., Midfield

Ryan Monday, Fr., Midfield

Jose Mayorga, Jr., Midfield

Tyler Mirao, So., Midfield

 

4. Manchester

Coming off a shortened 2020 season in which it won an unofficial NJSIAA sectional championship, Manchester rolled into 2021 expecting to make at leas two more runs at both division and sectional titles with the same core. Since that championship victory vs. Monmouth two years ago, however, the Hawks have endured a disappointing 10-12 2021 campaign and will now embark on the 2022 season with their best player of the past two seasons no longer on the team despite still attending the school. Owen Edwards – a 20-goal scorer in 2021 and an All-Shore selection each of the past two seasons – will be playing academy soccer this fall and Manchester will march on without his production and leadership.

Although Edwards’s loss throws a significant wrench into Manchester’s big plans, it does not completely sink the Hawks. Manchester still returns two big-time scoring threats in attacking midfielder Joey Kurak and speedy forward Muberaq Aderogba. Based on last season, that duo is likely to account for most of the scoring, with seniors Diego Martinez, Anthnoy Raimondi and Matt O’Hara manning the midfeld as well. The Hawks will also be deploying a unique new weapon up top, with 6-foot-7 forward Evan Weiner leaving the football team to try his hand (or head) at scoring goals on the pitch.

Manchester’s defense gave up 62 goals in 2021 – more than all but three teams in the entire conference – and will be relying on a group of underclassman to improve that number. Sophomores Cody McLeod, Aidan Clauberg and Gabriel Occipinti and freshman Brayden Kurak will make up the defense in front of sophomore goalkeeper Noah Cundiff, who broke in as a freshman last season. Even without Edwards, Manchester should still be a dangerous scoring team, but tightening up in the back will be the key to the Hawks getting back to a championship level this season.

Head Coach: Troy Madison, fifth season
2021 Record: 10-12 (3-4, fifth in Class B South)
Key Losses: Brandon Sogness (Forward/Midfield), Vincent Paolillo (Midfield/Defense), Jake Ruocchio (Defense), Hunter Rust (Defense), Owen Edwards (Sr., Forward/Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Muberaq Aderogba, Sr., Forward (11 goals, 5 assists)

Evan Weiner, Sr., Forward

Joey Kurak, Jr., Midfield/Forward (8 goals, 4 assists)

Diego Martinez, Sr., Midfield

Matt O’Hara, Sr., Midfield

Anthony Raimondi, Sr., Midfield

Cody McLeod, So., Midfield/Defense

Gabriel Occipinti, So., Midfield/Defense

Aidan Clauberg, So., Defense

Brayden Kurak, Fr., Defense

Noah Cundiff, So., Goalkeeper

 

Key Players

Max Anderson, Jr., Midfield

Luis Camarena, Sr., Midfield

Alex Lopez Gaviria, Sr., Midfeld/Forward

Landon Hinton, Sr., Goalkeeper

Connor Nolan, Sr., Defense

Joel Panora, Jr., Midfield

Antoio Szczech, Sr., Forward

Jan Tracz, Jr., Defense

Robert Rust, Jr., Defense

Daniel Bryant, Fr., Midfield

 

5. Lakewood

Behind a wide array of scorers, Lakewood remained a tough matchup in Class B South play and hung around the .500 mark throughout the 2021 season. The Piners lost their two best scorers in Alexander Granda and Fernando Osorio, but return several other 2021 starters who showed they can score goals. Flavio Garista and Jesus Avila are the top two scorer threats back this year and the two will form one of the division’s top scoring tandems.

Kevin Moreno will play out on the wing and in the midfield, Angelo Calidonio and Pedro Saavedra each return after having scored at least once apiece last season. Freshman Erick Vargas will also provide a creative spark to the midfield, while Nicolas Avila and Hector de los Santos will be skilled defenders who each scored a pair of goals a year ago. Jonathan Flores goes from part-time to starting keeper, rounding out a Lakewood formation that has a chance to make some noise for the Piners.

Head Coach: Gene Drumright, 22nd season
2021 Record: 6-7-4 (2-4-1, sixth in Class B South)
Key Losses: Alexander Granda (Midfield), Fernando Osorio (Forward), Eduardo Santillan (Defense)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Jesus Avila, Sr., Forward (3 goals, 3 assists)

Flavio Garista, Sr., Forward (5 goals)

Kevin Moreno, Sr., Forward/Midfield

Angelo Calidonio, Sr., Midfield (2 goals)

Pedro Saavedra, Jr., Midfield (1 goal)

Erick Vargas, Fr., Midfield

Nicolas Avila, Jr., Defense (2 goals)

Hector de los Santos, So., Defense (2 goals)

Anthony Soriano, Jr., Defense

Jonathan Flores, Jr., Goalkeeper

 

6. Pinelands

In order to finish either first or second place in Class B South for six straight seasons, as Pinelands has, a team must have the ability to continue to develop talent and foster chemistry on the field. The Wildcats did that consistently over the past five seasons and will now have to do it under difference circumstances as Jim Campbell takes over the program for Nino Scotto di Carlo.

The common thread with each new season has been that Pinelands has returned proven secondary scorers who are ready to make the leap to become primary scoring options. This is the first year in which Pinelands does not have an obvious candidate to pick up the baton, with junior Alex Aguilar the only returning player to score more than one goal last year and he scored two. Without a lot of scoring to their credit, Joe Cardillo and Aiden Falduto will try to pick up the missing scoring with the graduations of James Cahill and Stephen DeMilio. Dan Eberlin and Ian Cahill join their classmate, Aguilar, to form a steady midfield that also includes freshman Lance Heuston.

If Pinelands remains in the hunt this season, it will be thanks to the defense. The back four plus keeper Aaron Johnson will be all-senior, led by returning starters Brogan Duelly and Gage Molinaro. Pinelands has been adept at keeping opposing attacks under control, both with an organized formation and a quality possession game, so the Wildcats will have some recourse if there is not elite goal-scorer.

Head Coach: Jim Campbell, first season
2021 Record: 12-6 (6-1, second in Class B South)
Key Losses: James Cahill (Forward), Stephen Demilio (Forward/Midfield), Mike Staino (Defense), Adam Grelak (Midfield), Tom Reilly (Forward/Midfield), John Staino (Forward/Midfield), Josiah Hart (Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Joe Cardillo, Sr., Forward

Aiden Falduto, Jr., Forward

Alex Aguilar, Jr., Midfield (2 goals, 2 assists)

Dan Eberlin, Jr., Midfield

Ian Cahill, Jr., Midfield

Lance Heuston, Fr., Midfield

Brogan Duelly, Sr., Defense

Gage Molinaro, Sr., Defense

Gavin Wagner, Sr., Defense

Rex Heuston, Sr., Defense

Aaron Johnson, Sr., Goalkeeper (7 shutouts)

 

Other Key Players

William Sisco, Jr., Forward

Julio Casillas, Sr., Defense

Peyton Auermuller, Fr., Forward

Peyton Simoncini, Fr., Defense

Jake Miller, Fr., Goalkeeper

 

7. Barnegat

Count Barnegat among the Class B South teams that lost a leading scorer but may better than last year nonetheless. While top scorer Schuyler Jodice graduated, Barnegat will have most of its defense back in front of all-division goalkeeper Lucas Holland, a proven scorer back in the midfield in Jesse Hedlund and an intriguing underclass tandem up front.

While Hedlund will be the rock in the middle of the field along with junior Julian Marfino, freshman Leo Chmarro and sophomore Joe Ficorilli will play up top while another sophomore, Nick Ficorilli, works out of the midfield. The defense, meanwhile, will be experienced and savvy, with seniors Nick Santos and Anthony Ryan, as well as junior Joseph Valles leading the way.

Barnegat is just two years removed from finishing second in the B South standings, and while the past two years have come with some major growing pains, there is a good chance Barnegat grows out of its struggles this season to become a top-four team in the division.

Head Coach: Kevin Peters, fourth season
2021 Record: 4-12 (1-6, seventh in Class B South)
Key Losses: Schuyler Jodice (Forward), Pavan Patel (Defense), Darren Cernansky (Midfield/Forward), Hudson Morici (Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Leo Chmarro, Fr., Forward

Joe Ficorilli, So., Midfield/Forward

Jesse Hedlund, Sr., Midfield (7 goals, 3 assists)

Julian Marfino, Jr., Midfield

Nick Ficorilli, So., Midfield

Nick Santos, Sr., Defense

Anthony Ryan, Sr., Defense

Joseph Valles, Jr., Defense

Christian Chmarro, So., Defense

Lucas Holland, Sr., Goalkeeper (2 shutouts)

 

8. Donovan Catholic

The recent struggles for the Griffins continued last year, as Donovan Catholic went winless in Class B South and suffered 12 losses over the course of the entire season. To turn things around in 2022, Donovan Catholic will be looking to six new starters to step in alongside a returning group that did not provide a lot of scoring a year ago.

The exception to that was current senior Peyton Calvetto, who was second on the team with four goals in 2021. Juniors Matt Fletcher and Konrad Dzialowski will be tasked with operating in the middle of the field as leaders – Fletcher on the attack and Dzialowski in more of a defensive capacity. Senior Ryan Henry also returns to the back line and senior Harrison Hopkins is back in goal, giving Donovan Catholic enough experience and senior leadership near its own goal to deter opposing attacks better than it did a year ago.

Head Coach: Ken Oliver, 22nd season
2021 Record: 2-12-1 (0-7, eighth in Class B South)
Key Losses: Preston Kyriakoulis (Midfield/Forward), Raul Soriano (Defense/Midfield), Matt Bowen (Defense/Midfield), Anthony DiSapio (Midfield), Juan Jordan (Sr., Defense/Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Peyton Calvetto, Sr., Midfield/Forward (4 goals)

Luke Stripolli, Jr., Midfield/Forward

Matt Fletcher, Jr., Midfield/Forward

Max Durazzo, Fr., Midfield/Forward

Nick O’Brien, Jr., Midfield

Konrad Dzialowski, Jr., Defense/Midfield

Logan Ascione, Sr., Defense/Midfield

Ryan Henry, Sr., Defense

Nick Paccione, Sr., Defense/Goalkeeper; Angel Lopez, Jr., Defense/Midfield

Matt Ryan, Jr., Defense/Midfield; Kevin Leny, Jr., Defense

Harrison Hopkins, Sr., Goalkeeper (1 shutout)

 

Other Key Players

Nick Carrera, So., Defense/Midfield

Brody Levy, So., Defense/Midfield

Christian Dzialowski, Fr., Midfield/Forward

Demitri Maugeri, Fr., Midfield/Forward

 

Class B South Starting XI

Ethan Riley, Sr., Forward, Lacey

Muberaq Aderogba, Sr., Forward, Manchester

Gerard Cerino, Sr., Forward, Jackson Liberty

Jesus Avila, Sr., Forward/Midfield, Lakewood

Joey Kurak, Jr., Midfield/Forward, Manchester

Jared Elliot, Sr., Midfield, Point Boro

Jesse Hedlund, Sr., Midfield, Barnegat

Brett Leschinski, Sr., Defense, Point Boro

Mateo Musmanni, Sr., Defense, Lacey

Brogan Duelly, Sr., Defense, Pinelands

Lucas Holland, Sr., Goalkeeper, Barnegat

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Alex Aguilar, Jr., Midfield, Pinelands

Peyton Calvetto, Sr., Midfield/Forward, Donovan Catholic

John Witkowski, Jr., Forward, Point Boro

Leo Chmarro, Fr., Forward, Barnegat

Adal Garcia, Jr., Midfield, Jackson Liberty

 

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