CBA, Toms River North and Ranney play for South Jersey titles


South Jersey Championship Group IV

No. 11 Cherokee (13-5) at No. 5 Toms River North (15-2-1), 2 p.m.

Two years ago, Toms River North orchestrated one of the most memorable sectional championship races in NJSIAA football tournament history when he won the South Jersey Group IV title as the seed. No. 16 and capped the title race with a golden overtime goal in the championship game at Egg Harbor. Every game in that title race was close, with the first two wins with 2-0 margins and the last two ending 2-1 over the late winners of the Mariners.

Last year, Toms River North won a sectional championship again, this time beating Southern, 3-2, in overtime to win the Central East Group IV Championship in the 2020 NJSIAA modified playoffs. in a row, all matches at the Toms River North State Tournament were decided by no more than two goals, including a pair of one-goal matches to end the race.

Toms River North senior AJ Emnace. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

This year, there was a lot less anxiety for Mariners coach Joe Mahon as his team pushed into the title game. Toms River North exploded for 15 goals in three games before a goal rampage by senior AJ Emnace, which illuminated the competition to the tune of eight goals in those three games. The Mariners started the tournament with a 7-0 win over a capable Gloucester Tech side, then hammered Egg Harbor, 6-1, in a rematch of the 2019 title game. Toms River North to start on Monday, but Emnace struck in the 50th minute en route to a 2-0 Mariners victory over No.1 seed Clearview.

As Toms River North looks to finish a dominant run to a third consecutive sectional championship, Cherokee will be hoping to emulate the 2019 Mariners squad by winning the section title as the No.11 seed. Thursday will mark nearly 10 years. to the day the last time these two teams met in a state tournament game, with Cherokee battling the Mariners, 2-1, in the section semifinals on their way to a season and a group of 25-0-2. IV championship. A year earlier, Cherokee shocked the Mariners at Toms River by scoring in the dying seconds of regulation to win, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of South Group IV – a victory that helped the Chiefs claim the first of their two consecutive Group IV championships. .

South Jersey Non-Public A Championship

No. 3 Notre Dame (18-2-2) at No. 1 CBA (19-1), 2 p.m.

When the NJSIAA tournament installments were first released, the South Jersey potential non-public A final looked like one for the ages. It may still be, but it won’t be the game that was widely anticipated. Notre Dame spoiled the party by shocking Pingry – the state’s No.1 team – with a golden goal in the sectional semifinals to win a trip to the championship game on Thursday at the ABC. St. Augustine almost made two surprises by jumping over CBA and taking the Colts into overtime before a golden goal from Dylan Cupo sent the No. 1 seed to the final.

Ahead of the section’s quarterfinal, CBA had dominated their competition and it might have been easy to forget in the midst of that streak that at the start of the year the Colts were consistently coming from behind to win close games. . These returns helped the ABC to start this memorable adventure in which the Colts have yet to lose to a team from New Jersey State (18-0) and will try to extend their unbeaten streak in the ’32-game state dating back to the first game of 2020.

ABC Sr. Dylan Cupo (11) takes on Toms River North Sr. Jimmy Ruppe. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

CBA has featured in the non-public A South Jersey Championship game in each of the past six years the tournament has been played and the season-ending loss to St. Augustine in 2019 ended a streak of four. back-to-back section titles and subsequent trips to the non-public A championship game.The first of those six consecutive section-final appearances came against Notre Dame in 2014, which was the last year the Irish have qualified for the national final. The Colts have long taken revenge for the 5-2 loss, so Thursday’s game represents a new story with new characters.

Notre Dame’s season was the reverse of the CBA’s as the Irish opened the season by crushing their opponents and more recently started playing close matches. Notre Dame won its first 11 games of 2021 with an insane 6.36 goals-per-game average and after improving to 16-1 in a 3-1 Mercer County tournament win over West Windsor-Plainsboro South, the Irish had won a game less than two goals. Notre Dame’s last four games, however, have all been decided by a single goal or penalty shootout, including 2-1 wins over St. Peter’s Prep and Pingry in that tournament.

On the other hand, the goal St. Augustine scored late in the first half on Monday at CBA was the first goal the Colts have allowed since Oct. 7 – a seven-game streak that included the entirety of the Shore Conference tournament. Declan Kelly and Jack McGagh lead a defense that has gone from inexperienced and prone to occasional errors to a unit that gives up next to nothing while fueling a devastating attack.

Thursday’s final is remarkable for CBA, who will likely play their last varsity game on their sacred grassland. If the Colts win, the next game will be the non-public A final at Kean University and each time this season ends the new grass pitch with stadium lights is expected to be completed well before the start of 2022. L ‘ABC is hoping to close their future home with a league win – that was fitting because prior to 2019, league games in non-public sections were played on neutral venues.

South Jersey non-public B Championship

No. 7 Princeton Day (11-11) at No. 5 Ranney (11-4-1), 2 p.m.

Ranney has built this season over the past three seasons, when four of his main seniors – Tommy Boyan, Jett Pacifico, Joe Celler and Charle Anyichie – transferred to sophomores. While it didn’t quite go as planned, the Panthers are sitting on 11 wins and are set to host the South Jersey Non-Public B Section Championship game for the first time in the history of the Thursday school in Tinton Falls.

Two years ago in sophomore year, this group of seniors helped Ranney win the team’s first Central Class B Championship and looked set to take the program to new heights in 2020 and 2021. Last year, however, the Panthers were limited to a class-only program. B Center opponents and ahead of a big two-game showdown against St. Rose, Ranney’s entire athletic program was shut down for two weeks due to COVID-19 protocol. The Panthers returned to the field in time for the NJSIAA playoffs, but their season ended in a 3-0 loss to St. Rose.

Ranney senior Tommy Boyan. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Ranney has lost two division games this season, including a 2-1 loss to St. Rose that saw the Purple Roses claim the Class B Central title, but the team bounced back. With a divisional championship already listed on their high school resume, the seniors are obsessed with winning a state championship and took a big step forward by knocking out St. Rose on Monday, 1-0.

Stands on Princeton Day Road, which is operating in its first season as an NJSIAA member school and, as a result, is playing for a sectional championship in its very first appearance in the NJSIAA tournament. A side story unique to Thursday’s championship game is the Coaches Game, which pits a pair of former Ocean County stars in the side game. While Ranney is led by former Toms River South and Rutgers, Donny Gray, Princeton Day is led by former Monsignor Donovan and Stockton, Brian Thomsen, whose younger brother Scott also played at Christian Brothers Academy and at the University of Virginia before moving on to a professional career.

Both programs are making the Sectional Finals for the first time, and the winner will likely come up against Eternal Power Gill St. Bernard in Sunday’s Championship game – assuming the Knights can overtake Newark Academy in the Final. of the North Non-Public B.

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