Tag: Shore

Senior Neysa Aguilar leads Middlesex into CJ1 title tilt down the Shore, against Shore

Being a senior athlete in any sport is a unique thing, especially when it comes to tournament time.

They say play every game like it’s your last? For high schoolers, it very well could be, once that last state tournament comes around.

Neysa Aguilar of Middlesex has always been a standout, but she has upped her game to the next level in the 2023 NJSIAA Tournament.

And that will need to continue Tuesday night when second-seed Middlesex (20-8) travels to take on top-seed Shore Regional (22-6) in the Central Jersey Group 1 final, with a 6:30 tip-off time in West Long Branch.

Not only is she averaging 21.2 points per game, but she’s coming off a 32-point, 12-rebound effort in the semifinals against Dunellen, peaking – perhaps – at the right time.

Head coach Kevin Harper will need all of that and more against a Blue Devils team that is the defending champion, having made a run all the way to the Group 1 title game last year. They’re led by senior Rylee Drahos (18.5 ppg) and sophomore Reese Fiore (12.9 ppg).

Middlesex, meanwhile, is making its first appearance in a title game since 2020, Aguilar’s freshman season. That year, they had made their third straight trip to a sectional final, only to fall to small-school powerhouse and neighboring Bound Brook all three times.

Disappointment to be sure for Aguilar. The next season, the COVID-shortened year of 2021, Middlesex made it into the Somogyi Family Pod, the GMC’s top postseason pod, but their run was over before it began, waylaid by a COVID outbreak around the team.

And so, here’s Aguilar, with that one last shot. Make it a good one.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with senior Neysa Aguilar about her time at Middlesex, the influence of her coach, and the Central Jersey Group 1 title game against Shore Regional:

INSTANT REPLAY: South Jersey, Group 1 First Round: (5) Shore 23, (4) Manville 16

In just its second home playoff game ever, Manville’s rally fell short as the fourth-seeded Mustangs fell to visiting 5th-seed Shore Regional, 23-16, in a South Jersey Group 1 first round playoff game on October 28, 2022.

Click below to hear all the live play-by-play from Ned Panfile Stadium in Manville, with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe on the call:

1st Half

2nd Half

Manville comeback falls short against Shore in opening round of playoffs

The Manville offense didn’t get much of anything going in the first half against Shore Friday night.

In just its fourth playoff appearance ever, the 4th-seeded Mustangs managed just 34 yards rushing and 34 yards passing against 5th-seed Shore, and got their only score – down 23-6 at half – on a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Shawn Purcell.

But in the second half, Manville launched a long scoring drive to close to 23-13, then after a big defensive stop, got to within 21-16 on a field goal.

But they could get no closer, and one of Manville’s best seasons ever had come to a close – in a South Jersey, Group 1 first-round playoff game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – with an 8-2 mark.

The program had only reached eight wins just four times before, all in the 1960s, with a program best 9-0 mark in 1968. Purcell, QB Danny Wildgoose, and several other seniors had a great run come to a close: they went 14-5 in back-to-back seasons – 6-3 last year – the best since the combo of 1968 and 1969 saw them go 14-4.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, Shore rushed for 251 yards, and rolled up 321 yards of offense, despite missing two starters. Lucas Rosa carried 15 times for 146 yards and a two-yard touchdown run. Purcell, the state’s scoring leader with 170 points, finished the night with a hard-earned 79 yards on 14 carries, but did have that 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Click below for postgame reaction from Manville head coach Pat Gorbatuk and senior RB/CB/KR Shawn Purcell:

Tradition-rich Shore will be tough opponent for Manville in Mustangs second-ever playoff home game

Mark Costantino knows a thing or two about winning games toward the end of the season.

In his 31st season as the head coach at Shore Regional, Costantino has coached in eight title games for the West Long Branch school and won four of them. Now looking to capture the eighth state title in school history this season, meaningful late-season football is the norm for the Blue Devils.

“We are used to this kind of stuff,” Costantino said. “It’s what you get done in practice. If you don’t practice well, you will not play well. We’ve won seven state championships here, and [the kids] want to leave their¬†mark on the program.”

For Manville, it will be a new experience: their last playoff berth was in 2017, when they lost to Point Pleasant Beach – another Shore Conference foe – in their first-ever home playoff game. It was only the third postseason berth in school history.

The Blue Devils have 15 players that will see action on both sides of the ball. This is embodied by a trio of key players: running back Lucas Rosa, who leads the team with 511 total yards and 10 touchdowns, quarterback Ty Koch, who has thrown for 6 touchdowns and run for 3 more, and 6’4″ tight end/defensive end Jackson Whitacre, who leads the team with 219 receiving yards and 8 tackles for loss. All three guys start on both sides of the line of the scrimmage.

But Shore Regional expects to have its hands full when it visits Manville Friday night in South Jersey Group 1 playoff action in the Big Central Game of the Week. Manville’s star running back Shawn Purcell – the state scoring leader with 170 points and a whopping 28 touchdowns – is atop the scouting report.

“We’ve faced a number of quality running backs so far this year, and he’s right up there with any of them,” Costantino said. “That’s the guy. We’re going to try to contain him and limit the big plays.”

You can hear Friday night’s game with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling the play-by-play starting with pregame at 6:45 and kickoff at 7:00 from Manville’s Ned Panfile Stadium.¬† Click here to listen.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe preview the Manville-Shore first-round playoff game with Blue Devils’ head coach Mark Costantino:

The time is now for Manville as Purcell, Wildgoose look to make history in the playoffs

Last year’s Manville team had a really good season by any stretch of the imagination.

When you consider what happened in September, when the remnants of Ida caused all-too familiar damage in town, and that the team was helping its community schlep water-logged items out of basements when it should have been practicing for and playing its first game of the season, you can call the Mustangs’ 6-3 season an amazing one.

With a record of 6-2 at the cutoff, they didn’t make the playoffs. But that was just more fuel for the fire.

Armed with a better schedule – and the smart pickup of Shore Conference opponent Keyport in Week Zero by veteran head coach Pat Gorbatuk, now in his 12th season – this year’s team is 8-1 heading into Friday night’s South Jersey Group 1 opening round playoff game.

Not only did Manville make the playoffs, they made it as a four-seed, and earned just the second home playoff game in school history. They will take on 5th-seed Shore Regional (5-3) at 7 pm Friday, in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio live from Ned Panfile Stadium. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will have the call. Click here to listen.

Last year’s stars were runningbacks Brandon Flores and Shawn Purcell, along with QB Danny Wildgoose. Flores has gone on to wrestle at Alvernia Univeristy in Reading, PA, but Purcell and Wildgoose – now seniors – are still here.

And they are hoping tonight – and for at least two more games – to put an exclamation point on careers that have aligned with the best two-year stretch in Manville football history since the 1960s, when the Mustangs went 9-0 in 1968 – their third and last undefeated season – and 5-4 the following season, for a 14-4 mark, equaling the combined mark (so far) of this season and last season.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko preview the Manville-Shore first-round playoff game with Mustangs’ head coach Pat Gorbatuk: