TINTON FALLS - Ten years after the last Shore Conference Senior Boys Soccer All-Star game was played, it returned with a bang with the Monmouth County All- Stars besting the Ocean County All-Stars, 5-1, at the Capelli Sports Complex in Tinton Falls.
The event was sponsored by Freehold Ford (trophies) and Nissan World of Red Bank (referees).
In the first 10 minutes of the reinvented All-Star game, the Monmouth County squad scored three quick goals with the help of four of the top players in the Shore, who incidentally just led their respective schools (Christian Brothers Academy, Ocean Township and Holmdel) to state championships a little over a week ago.
It was the third time ever and the first time since 1983 that three teams from the Shore Conference won NJSIAA overall group titles.
Ocean midfielders Luke Yates and Leo Montesinos and Holmdel forward Anthony Arena scored goals, while CBA midfielder Dom Bellomo added an assist, helping the Monmouth County squad race out to an early 3-0 lead in what turned out to be enough to edge Ocean County.
All four were first-team All-Shore selections after stellar senior seasons.
Yates and Montesinos helped the Spartans (21-3-1) achieve one, if not the, best seasons in program history. Ocean captured both the Shore Conference Tournament and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III title before securing the overall Group III championship and finishing ranked fifth in the state.
Bellomo played an integral role in helping the Colts (19-4) to the NJSIAA South, Non-Public A title prior to snapping Delbarton’s 57-game unbeaten streak to win the Non-Public A championship and ended the season ranked No. 3 in the state.
Holmdel’s Arena – the SSN Player of the Year – led the Hornets (22-0-1) to an undefeated season and the No. 1 ranking in the state after winning the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title on the way to winning the overall Group II championship.
Arena was named an All-American and has now won back-to-back state championships, going 44-1-2 over the past two seasons.
In the final Max Prep national rankings, Holmdel finished ranked No. 13 in the country.
As a tribute to winning state titles, the head coaches from those schools were selected to head up the Monmouth County team, including Holmdel’s John Nacarlo, CBA’s Tom Mulligan and Ocean’s John Terlecsky – the SSN Coach of the Year. The starting lineup for Monmouth County consisted solely of players from those schools, deservedly so.
Montesinos, Yates, James Schultz, Jack Sintic and goalkeeper Max Winters from Ocean; Anthony Arena, Joe Arena, Torre Avitabile and Jack Russo from Holmdel; and Bellomo and Jack Gill from CBA formed the starting 11.
Yates got Monmouth on the board first, heading in a free kick by Bellomo in the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead.
Montesinos then put Monmouth up by two, drilling an 18-yard strike past Ocean County goalkeeper Nick Kinzler (Jackson Memorial), who had trouble corralling the ball on a wet, raining night that made it difficult to get a good grasp of the ball.
Two minutes later, Arena buried a deflected shot off to the lower left side from about 15-yards out off an assist from Montesinos for a 3-0 lead.
Ocean County answered a minute later when Pinelands forward Dom Dos Santos collected a through-ball from Lacy’s all-time assist leader Kip Byrne then crossed it into the middle where Point Pleasant Beach striker Ki Costa gathered in the ball before scoring on a close-range shot to pull Ocean within two, 3-1.
Costa was the top goal scorer in Ocean County this season with 28 goals along with 14 assists for 70 points.
Neptune teammates Wilby Alfred (38 goals) and Mickenna Church (20 assists) led the Shore Conference in goals and assists, respectively. As the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Tournament, the Fliers were upset, 2-1, by fifth-seeded Colts Neck in the semifinals.
Alfred and Church hooked up one last time in their high school careers to push Monmouth’s lead to 4-1, with Church finding Alfred streaking down the left side, who then maneuvered his way in close between two defenders before slipping a shot just inside the right pipe for the goal.
The first half ended, 4-1, and the second half settled into a defensive affair with Howell goalie Shane McBride and Central’s Matt Dias both excelling in the nets.
Monmouth did add one more goal when Middletown South midfielder Jonathan Santos blasted a shot to the far left corner for a goal and a 5-1 lead.
Montesinos was named the MVP of the game for Monmouth with Pinelands forward Kieran Sundermann picking up the honor for the Ocean squad.