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For the past 15 seasons, not including the truncated 2020 season in which there were not official division champions, the Class A South champion has come from either Toms River or Jackson, with the other four teams in the division operating as side shows in the division. Last season, Toms River North outclassed the rest of the field, but with the Mariners graduating 10 starters, the field has become wide open – so much so that a team from Brick, Southern or Central could end the Toms River and Jackson stranglehold.

Since the Shore Conference slashed the division schedule in half back in 2017, no Class A South champion has had more than one division loss. With enough parity that everyone in the division could lose at least two matches, that is another streak that could end during the 2021 season. The division schedule only lasts seven games and the equivalent of a calendar month, but this is the sort of division whose landscape could change with each week.

In predicted order of finish

1. Toms River East

Considering how much better Toms River North was than the rest of the field, finishing second in the division was an accomplishment for Toms River East and with a pair of all-division-caliber players back on the attack, the Raiders have plenty of momentum heading into 2021. Kajus Matazinskas returns as one of the Shore’s top players and fellow senior Ryan Kozlej will be a prominent presence in the midfield for a Toms River East side that should score its fair share of goals.

Beyond the senior scoring duo, Toms River East will have a lot to replace from its second-place finisher in A South. The Raiders do bring back another starting midfielder in Sean Peck, but only starter on the back line – senior Jack Smyth – returns, which will put more of the onus on returning sophomore goalkeeper Bobby Calvo. Junior Jackson Markovitch and sophomore Landon Smith are new starters positioned to benefit from the attention Matazinskas draws.

Like the rest of the teams in Class A South, Toms River East has a lot of ground to make up to overtake Toms River North, but with the Mariners’ losses to graduation and Toms River East’s proficiency up top and in goal, the Raiders are set up better, even if only slightly, than the rest of the division to capture the top spot.

Head Coach: Mike Konopka, seventh season
2021 Record: 10-6-1 (5-2, second in Class A South)
Key Losses: Noah Raimonde (Midfield/Forward), Adam Raimonde (Defense), Dale Reinhard (Defense), Zach Laprise (Defense), Ryan Testa (Defense), Cruz Chacon (Midfield), Gabe Lopez (Midfield), Mike Emihl (Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Kajus Matazinskas, Sr., Forward (14 goals, 7 assists)

Jackson Markovitch, Jr., Forward

Landen Smith, So., Midfield/Forward

Ryan Kozlej, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 5 assists)

Sean Peck, Jr., Midfield

Tommy Renkin, So., Midfield

Jack Smyth, Sr., Defense

Nick DeNardo, Sr., Defense

Matt Marvinny, Jr., Defense

Matt Moore, Jr., Defense

Bobby Calvo, So., Goalkeeper (3 shutouts)

 

Other Key Players

Ismet Erfinike, Sr., Midfield (1 goal, 3 assists)

Mark Colasurdo, Jr., Midfield

Luke Bodziak, So., Midfield

Donato Demeola, So., Midfield

Rowen Joice, So., Midfield

Davut Kansu, Jr., Defense

Ahmed Amer, Sr., Forward

 

2. Toms River South

It took some time for Toms River South to get rolling in 2021, but by the end of the season, the Indians began to look like a team that could have contended for the No. 2 spot in Class A South had it not been for some injuries and a week-plus shutdown. A fresh start in 2022 comes with some starters to replace, but Toms River South is geared up for a run at the top spot in Class A South, which it has not reached since winning a third straight division championship in 2016.

The front of the formation will have plenty of firepower left, led by senior Jon Fitzgerald and junior Kenny Caruso – the second and third-leading scorers on the team a year ago behind 2022 graduate Danny Lindov. Senior Eddie Candia is also back in the midfield, with seniors Devon Costa and Peter Johnson moving into the starting midfield and sophomore David Mandica rounding out the attack.

Justin Villamizer leads the defense along with first-year senior starters Evan Burnett and Ray Gardner, with junior goalkeeper Owen Heale back as the starter between the pipes. The mix of returning experience and emerging underclass talent gives Toms River South some upside for this fall and after a five-season absence from the top of the A South table, the Indians may be ready to claim another championship.

Head Coach: Ron Laycock, 11th season
2021 Record: 10-6-2 (2-4-1, tied fifth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Danny Lindov (Forward), Chris Higham (Midfield), A.J. Truskowski (Defense), Joao Capobianco (Midfield), Jalen Beaton (Defense/Midfield), Jeremy Schiel (Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Kenny Caruso, Jr., Forward (6 goals, 5 assists)

Jon Fitzgerald, Sr., Midfield (5 goals, 4 assists)

Eddie Candia, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 3 assists)

Peter Johnson, Sr., Midfield

Devon Costa, Sr., Midfield (2 goals)

David Mandica, So., Midfield

Justin Villamizer, Sr., Defense (1 goal, 1 assist)

Anthony Johnson, So., Defense

Evan Burnett, Sr., Defense

Ray Gardner, Sr., Defense

Owen Heale, Jr., Goalkeeper

 

Other Key Players

Gianni McCann, Sr., Forward

Dylan Hart, Sr., Defense

Alex Tecalero, Sr., Defense

Cam Riccardi, Jr., Midfield

Caden Langan, So., Midfield

Change Ford, So., Midfield

 

3. Toms River North

Toms River North’s unforgettable three-year run began with the unexpected NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV championship run as a No. 16 seed in 2019. The reason is was unexpected is because Toms River North entered the state tournament 8-7-1 and had been trying to find its identity for most of the year. Then, the championship run happened and the Mariners went on to win sectional championships in each of the two following years as the Shore’s best public-school team.

Now that every impact player who was part of all three of those teams is gone, Toms River North is about to embark upon another season of self-discovery. In a wide-open Class A South and in a Shore Conference that graduated a lot of talent from 2021, the range of outcomes for a team like the Mariners is wide. With just one 2021 starter back, Toms River North will go through its share of growing pains but the Mariners also went 18-deep a year ago and several of the bench contributors are ready to step up.

Senior Matt Bocizev is the lone starter back and will move from center back to center midfield, pairing up with classmate Konstantinos Papanikolas to form a midfield tandem with considerable size and athleticism. Senior Ray Keller also came off the bench last year as he moves into the starting midfield, while in the back, senior Vinny O’Donnell and junior Luke Montanile take over as starters after playing up in the formation off the bench last year. Junior Anthony Ruggiero is another depth player from a year ago who will be a scoring threat as a starter as the Mariners try to find their next group of goal-scorers as part of another championship contender.

Toms River North junior Luke Montanile wins a ball in the air. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
Toms River North junior Luke Montanile wins a ball in the air. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
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Head Coach: Joe Mahon, 13th season
2021 Record: 15-2-3 (7-0, first in Class A South)
Key Losses: Mattia Assante (Midfield), Jared Brown (Midfield), Jimmy Ruppe (Defense), A.J. Emnace (Forward), Ryan Maguire (Defense), Chris Bird (Defense), Jake Nagle (Midfield), Dawson Kaniuk (Goalkeeper), David Anderson (Defense/Midfield), Nico Gonzalez (Midfield), Will Buono (Forward), Bryan Garcia (Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Anthony Ruggiero, Jr., Forward

Jake Bennett, Sr., Forward

Christian Caso, So., Forward/Midfield

Ray Keller, Sr., Midfield (3 goals, 1 assist)

Konstantinos Papanikolas, Sr., Midfield

Matt Bozicev, Sr., Midfield

Vinny O’Donnell, Sr., Defense (2 goals, 1 assist)

Michael Venegas, So., Defense

Jack Eubanks, Jr., Defense

Luke Montanile, Jr., Defense (1 goal, 1 assist)

Mike Vivolo, Jr., Goalkeeper

 

Key Players

Jack Marro, Jr., Defense

Devon Zimmerman, Jr., Defense/Midfield

Pablo Quiroz, Sr., Midfield

Mike McDyer, Sr.

Angel Perez, Sr.

Darsh Patel, Sr.

Christian Assante DiCupillo, So.

Josh Brazier, So.

Connor Fisher, Sr.

Frank Toledo, So.

James Homyak, So.

Karol Zawarus, Jr.

 

4. Brick Memorial

Last season marked a noteworthy step forward for Brick Memorial, which made it back to the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time in five years and then won a thriller in the first round of the Central Jersey Group III playoffs. The SCT and state tournaments both ended in heartbreaking fashion, with the Mustangs losing their first-round SCT game on penalties and the season ending on an overtime golden goal at Ocean.

Armed with a new chip on its collective shoulder, Brick Memorial returns with plenty of scoring punch and some questions to answer at the back of the formation in order to take another step toward the top of Class A South. Senior Billy Caruso has been a top scoring option since his freshman season and led the Mustangs with eight goals in 2021. Classmate Connor Hackett joins him up top and three more seniors – Pat Schlagenhaft, Zander Pitts and Drew Forfar will lead the middle of the formation.

Senior Drew Iacullo is the lone senior on the defense and junior Justin Perrin takes over in goal for Brick Memorial, which will try to piece together a formation to best utilize its considerable goal-scoring talent so that it is part of a winning formula. Last year’s progress combined with this year’s returning experience is evidence that the Mustangs are on the right track.

Head Coach: Brian Swider, third season
2021 Record: 6-7-3 (3-2-2, third in Class A South)
Key Losses: Anden Johnson (Midfield), Ryan Smith (Midfield), Ryan Mastrojohn (Defense), Jason Desiderio (Midfield/Defense), Zack Pitts (Defense), Andrew Farnkopf (Defense) Rich Kijack (Goakeeper)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Billy Caruso, Sr., Forward (8 goals, 3 assists)

Connor Hackett, Sr., Forward

Pat Schlagenhaft, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 1 assist)

Zander Pitts, Sr., Midfield (1 goal, 3 assists)

Drew Forfar, Sr., Midfield

Robbie Carroll, Jr., Midfield

Drew Iacullo, Sr., Defense

Justin Perrin, Jr., Goalkeeper

 

Other Key Players

Michael Heptig, Jr., Defense

Declan Beelitz, Jr., Defense

Aiden Marotta, Jr., Defense

Mason Pirnik, Jr., Defense

Declan Smith, So., Forward

Owen Rodriguez, Sr., Defense

Ben Idzahl, Jr., Midfield

Jeancarlo Mejia, Jr., Midfield

Michael Sura, So., Midfield

Paul DiRosa, Fr., Midfield

Landon Amalfa, Fr., Midfield

 

5. Central

Central’s first year in the Class A South division was 2016 and it was an overall success. The Golden Eagles finished third in the division, graduated most of their team and have been stuck near the bottom of the table in the years since. Last season began the climb out, with Central climbing to sixth in the standings while also qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time since that 2016 campaign. Replacing the four key seniors from that group will be a challenge for this year’s group as it tries to take the next steps for the program.

While Central lost a major scoring source in Gianni Smith (17 goals and 12 assists), it returns three other players who have demonstrated an ability to create and finish scoring chances. Junior David Kroon emerged as a second-scorer to Smith, while Ryan DiCillo and Keith Swistock established themselves as steady contributors in the midfield. Senior John Truhan has also been a scoring threat up top since his freshman season, giving Central a quartet of experienced players to key the attack.

Three experienced defenders – junior Owen Elliot and seniors Tommy Dudzik and Tane Zorgdrager – also return to steady the back line in front of returning senior goalkeeper Trevor Policastro. Throw in a wave of up-and-coming underclassmen who are part of a renewed overall program and Central is getting closer to wedging back into the top-half of the A South standings after a long rebuilding job.

Head Coach: Troy Van Hise, fifth season
2021 Record: 7-10-2 (2-4-1, sixth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Gianni Smith (Forward), Mason Leszynski (Forward), Mike Azzerone (Midfield), Will Smith (Sr., Defense)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

David Kroon, Jr., Forward (8 goals, 1 assist)

John Truhan, Sr., Forward (2 goals, 3 assists)

Ryan DiCillo, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 7 assists)

Keith Swistock, Jr., Midfield

Blake Crutchley, So., Midfield

Aiden Risk, Sr., Midfield

Tommy Dudzik, Sr., Defense

Tane Zorgdrager, Sr., Defense

Owen Elliot, Jr., Defense

Matt Golizio, Jr., Defense

Trevor Policastro, Sr., Goalkeeper (5 shutouts)

 

Other Key Players

Jordan Benzon, So., Midfield

Dillon Konfederak, So., Midfield

Shrill Mistry, Jr., Midfeld

Devont Reilly-King, So., Defense

Landon Kavanaugh, Fr., Midfield

Ilyas Citepe, Fr., Defense

Zach Polo, Jr., Goalkeeper

T.J. Marshall, Sr., Goalkeeper

 

6. Southern

The shortened 2020 season robbed Southern of a chance to push the best team it has had in three decades toward its full potential and when a new starting group of Rams got a full season again in 2021, the results were mixed. On the bright side, Southern took a mostly-new starting lineup that graduated the vast majority of its scoring and finished in the top-half of the Class A South standings while finishing within a couple games of .500. Ultimately, though, it showed how special the 2020 team was and was a reminder that it will take some work to get back to that level again.

This season comes with some promise, as new head coach Rob Muñoz takes over a team that will boast a starting lineup littered with varsity experience. Goalkeeper Nathaniel Bott was the starter on the 2020 team and senior midfielder Mathieu Leonard got some minutes off the bench as a sophomore with that group that he has used to his and his team’s advantage in the years since. Along with Mathieu and Bott, five other 2021 starters are back, including a senior in the midfield (Aidan Antonio) and in the back (Patrick Gaffney).

Jefferson Rubi Cruz and Nicolas Prosperi both got starts as freshmen a year ago and will be key pieces from now until their graduation, with classmate Aidan Donnelly also elevating to the starting lineup. Zach Hetrick and Chris Prosperi are two more seniors ready to move into the starting lineup and juniors Matt Hoosack and Jack Marano will be integral as well. The 2022 team is not ready to reach the historic heights of the 2020 squad, but there is potential for rebound season that puts Southern on track to return to the top of Ocean County.

Head Coach: Robert Muñoz, first season
2021 Record: 7-9-1 (3-3-1, fourth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Landon Beirne (Midfield), Mario Addiego (Forward), Luke Hart (Midfield), Kerem Satar (Midfield), Matt Krinic (Defense)

Projected Starters (Returning Starters in Bold)

Mathieu Leonard, Sr., Midfield (4 goals, 4 assists)

Aidan Antonio, Sr., Midfield (2 goals, 3 assists)

Matthew Hoosack, Jr., Midfield (2 goals, 1 assist)

Jefferson Rubi Cruz, So., Midfield (4 goals)

Aidan Donnelly, So., Midfield

Zach Hetrick, Sr., Midfield

Patrick Gaffney, Sr., Defense (3 assists)

Nicolas Prosperi, So., Defense (3 assists)

Jack Marano, Jr., Defense

Chris Prosperi, Sr., Defense

Nathaniel Bott, Sr., Goalkeeper (4 shutouts)

 

Key Players

Dane Calsyne, Jr., Goalkeeper

Jonathan Holden, Sr., Midfield

Aedan Gilman, Sr., Forward

David Boyd, Jr., Forward

Evan McCormick, Sr., Midfield

Colin Olcott, Jr., Defense

Brody Reynolds, So., Midfield

Kaan Zenger, So., Midfield

 

7. Jackson Memorial

Coming off back-to-back down seasons – a rarity for the program – Jackson Memorial is starved for a winning season and a return to upper echelon of the Shore Conference. As far as returning varsity players go, the Jaguars will have the numbers to drastically improve this season, with 12 players returning with at least one start last season. The only hold-up is that the two starters who graduated were the leading scorer (Steven Bado) and the goalkeeper (Charlie Harrison) – both of whom were all-division performers and three-year starters.

Between the 18-yard-lines, Jackson Memorial will be solid. Midfielders Peyton Collimore, Shann Moon, Andrew Kline and Emre Cetintas are all established varsity regulars and the defense behind them is full of returning starters as well: Tom McChesney, Ryan Polakowski, Henry Daum and Joe Waters. Of those eight starters with considerable experience, four are juniors, so the Jaguars have a foundation to improve beyond the end of this season.

For 2021 for go the way the Jaguars hope it does, they will need at least one scorer to emerge up top and for junior goalkeeper Chris Schoener to prove dependable in his first year as the starter. Schoener has looked like a steady keeper heading into opening day, but the scoring could be an ongoing project. Tyler Korinchak is another junior with the potential to take the reins and with what should be a quality team in the middle and on the back line, it may not take all that much scoring for the Jaguars to hang tight in the division race.

Head Coach: Steve Bado, 18th season
2021 Record: 4-12-2 (1-4-2, seventh in Class A South)
Key Losses: Steven Bado (Forward), Charlie Harrison (Goalkeeper)

Projected Starters (Returning Contributors in Bold)

Tyler Korinchak, Jr., Midfield/Forward

Christian Abel, Sr., Forward

Peyton Collimore, Jr., Midfield

Shann Moon, Jr., Midfield

Andrew Kline, Sr., Midfield

Emre Cetintas, Sr., Midfield

Tom McChesney, Sr., Defense

Ryan Polakowski, Sr., Defense

Henry Daum, Jr., Defense

Joe Waters, Jr., Defense

Chris Schoener, Jr., Goalkeeper

 

Other Key Players

Aiden Guzman, Jr., Defense/Midfield

John Calamia, Jr., Defense

Robert Calamia, So., Midfield

Stephen Csatari, Jr., Midfield

Thomas Dell’Omo, Jr., Midfield/Forward

Sean Kas, Jr., Defense/Midfield

Nate Parri, Jr., Forward/Midfield

John Penswater, Jr., Defense

Bryson Petrina, Jr., Defense

Alex Felicelli, So., Midfield/Forward

Alex Penswater, So., Midfield/Forward

Cooper Meyers, Fr., Goalkeeper

Antonio Miceli, Fr., Goalkeeper

 

8. Brick

Two years removed from a third-place finish in Class A South, Brick will once again be a young team trying to rebuild its way back into contention. While the Green Dragons return 16-goal-scorer Jayson Nardone, they lost a group of key pieces that includes junior Nick Rincon, who transferred out of the area after two strong seasons as an underclassmen.

Sophomore Santiago Valencia and junior Cailean Connolly are the only other returning starters to join Nardone in Brick’s starting XI and the rest of the lineup will be fairly young. Forward Thiago Markovicz and midfielder Daniel Mazzarisi are the only other seniors in the lineup, with Mateusz Torba, Adrian Bautista, Victor Cisneros and Josh Boyle are entering the lineup representing the junior class, along with Connolly. Sophomore defender Tristan Napolitano and freshmen goalkeeper Devin Baldwin will represent the underclasses in the lineup and with a lot more freshmen in the fold, the lineup could get younger by the end of the season.

While Class A South is just about anybody’s game heading into the 2022 season, Brick looks to be the longshot of the group considering the Green Dragons are one of the lesser-experienced teams in the field and already coming off a last-place finish in 2021. With so many non-seniors, though, there is a lot to be gained from this season, regardless of the results.

Head Coach: Tom Frazzitta, eighth season
2021 Record: 4-14-1 (1-5-1, eighth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Riley Lafay (Forward), Josh Voldovinos (Defense), Juan Oliveras (Midfeld), Nick Rincon (Jr., Midfield)

Projected Starters (Returning Contributors in Bold)

Jayson Nardone, Sr., Forward (16 goals)

Thiago Markovicz, Sr., Forward

Mateusz Torba, Jr., Forward

Santiago Valencia, So., Midfield

Adrian Bautista, Jr., Midfield

Daniel Mazzarisi, Sr., Midfield

Victor Cisneros, Jr., Midfield

Tristan Napolitano, So., Defense

Cailean Connolly, Jr., Defense

Josh Boyle, Jr., Defense

Devin Baldwin, Fr., Goalkeeper

 

Other Key Players

Braulio Romero, Sr., Defense

Giano Godenzi, Fr., Midfield

Carter Brino, Sr., Forward

Isaac Yllahuaman, Fr., Defense

Andrew Kaminski, Fr., Defense

Matt Rodas, Fr., Forward

Carl Loffredo, Fr., Midfield

Gabriel Walters, Fr., Midfield

Mekhi Bennett, Fr., Defense

 

Class A South Starting XI

Kajus Matazinskas, Sr., Forward, Toms River East

Billy Caruso, Sr., Forward, Brick Memorial

Jayson Nardone, Sr., Forward, Brick

Ryan DiCillo, Sr., Midfield, Central

Jon Fitzgerald, Sr., Midfield, Toms River South

Ryan Kozlej, Sr., Midfield, Toms River East

Mathieu Leonard, Sr., Midfield, Southern

Keith Swistock, Jr., Midfield, Central

Matt Bozicev, Sr., Midfield/Defense, Toms River North

Justin Villamizer, Sr., Defense, Toms River South

Bobby Calvo, So., Goalkeeper, Toms River East

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Jefferson Rubi Cruz, So., Midfield/Forward, Southern

Pat Schlagenhaft, Sr., Midfield, Brick Memorial

Peyton Collimore, Jr., Midfield, Jackson Memorial

Anthony Ruggiero, Jr., Forward, Toms River North

Owen Heale, Jr., Goalkeeper, Toms River South