A year ago, the Ocean Township High School boys soccer team waited until the Shorter Conference Tournament before getting hot.
Coach Tom Reilly and his staff hope for another successful campaign this season, though the Spartans have their work cut out for them if they are to successfully defend their SCT title.
With the third seed of the tournament, the Spartans were not an overwhelming favorite, but Reilly knew his squad had the potential to hang with the best the conference had to offer.
“Last year we didn’t go in thinking that we were going to win the SCT,” Reilly said.
“It’s about being in the position to have a good tournament, last year we weren’t heavy favorites, but we found a way to win the games and move on.”
The Spartans did just that, advancing to the SCT final against a very formidable Holmdel squad, led by the 2012 All-Shore Player of the Year, Zach Bond. With a strong defensive performance, the Spartans shut down arguably one of the most potent attacks in the Shore, and took home the title with a 2-0 win.
This season the Spartans will have to replace Tyler Nowak, who netted both goals in the SCT final and put together a season of 21 goals and six assists at the midfield position. The Spartans also lose three of their four starters at defense.
“I don’t know if we will be strong or weak there yet, we haven’t really figured that out yet,” Reilly said.
Without giving too much away before the season starts, Reilly’s formation will resemble that of a 4-4-2, in hopes his team will be able to create decent scoring chances. Seniors Justin Silverberg and George Kavarakas will play an important role for the Spartans, both in the midfield and the offensive third of the field.
“Our front six have some experience, they have a lot of talent and it will be interesting to see what they can do moving forward,” Reilly said.
One thing that Reilly can count on this season is senior goal keeper Chris Seager, who has committed to play at Monmouth University next fall.
“With an unestablished back line, he is going to be big for us with directing things back there,” Reilly said.
“He is going to have to supply that leadership because the other guys will be relatively new.”
Reilly credits playing in Class B North as something that prepares his guys for big games.
“Last year it definitely did, there was a variety of styles played,” Reilly said.
“Wall and Long Branch were both strong teams, play completely different, so it helped whoever we came across during tournament time.”
If anything, Reilly is most excited to get started in hopes for another successful season.
“We are happy with where we’re at, last year we got some good breaks and ended up right at the top.”