By Matthew Rocco
The Ocean Township High School boys’ soccer team is right in the thick of a competitive race for the Shore Conference B North Division title.
Defense has been a big part of the Spartans’ success this season. In each of their 11 wins, the Spartans have allowed no more than one goal. The squad outscored its opponents, 17-3, during a recent six-game winning streak. Ocean Township recently hit a speed bump, losing two straight to Wall High School, 3-2, and Middletown High School North, 2-0.
The Spartans have lost twice to Wall — a division foe — and hold a 10-3 record against B North rivals. That puts Ocean Township slightly behind Manasquan High School, and its division record of 10-2-1, while Middletown North pulled even at 10-3. Wall is also in the mix at 9-2-2.
The Oct. 13 loss to Wall was a heartbreaker. The Spartans had a 2-1 lead until the final minute, when Ryan Gordon hit the net off a corner kick. In overtime, Wall converted a penalty kick into the game-winning goal.
A week earlier, the Spartans and head coach Tom Reilly reached a milestone. Reilly, leading the Spartans for a 32nd season, recorded his 400th career win, as Ocean Township defeated Manasquan in another overtime thriller. Ocean Township’s Steve Carton knocked a header off a Manasquan defender and past the goalie in the second overtime, giving the Spartans a 1-0 win.
During his long tenure at Ocean Township, Reilly has guided the program to four Shore Conference Tournament titles, eight appearances in the conference finals and an NJSIAA Group III championship in 1996.
The Spartans were Central Jersey, Group III champions in 2015 — a season in which they won 19 games and advanced to the Shore Conference Tournament finals, where they fell to Christian Brothers Academy. The Spartans are back on track for another run at the sectional title this season, despite losing several key seniors to graduation after the 2015 campaign. This year’s seniors and a strong sophomore class are leading the way.
Santino Harding and Steve Carton each found the back of the net and had an assist in Ocean Township’s 4-1 victory over Middletown High School South Oct. 10. Mike Mauro and Joey Russomano also contributed a goal apiece. James Schutz added an assist. Max Winters, Ocean Township’s sophomore goalie, made five saves.
Ocean Township was scheduled to wrap up the regular season at home against RBC Oct. 17.
Seeds for the Shore Conference Tournament were set Oct. 17, with games beginning this week.