May 23, 2023
NJP takes a look at each of the sectional and group configurations and gives its insights on which teams will emerge from the tournaments…
Let’s look at Group 2
This is a super competitive sectional with 8 seeds within 3 overall rating points. The division also contains some up and coming teams that can surprise on any given day which will make the competition ever more fierce. Summit and Bergenfield are at the top of the ratings and have been top 25 teams for most of the season. Wayne Valley flirted with the top 10 early in the season and despite selling in as a top 30 team, they are a viable threat for top honors. Vernon and Ramapo top out the top 5 in the rating system, with Ramapo being a sweet surprise this Spring powered by 6’5″ junior Max Baczynski who plays like he is 6’10”. The Raiders have lost twice to Bergenfield this season and squeaked out a 2-1 victory over Wayne Valley so depending on the seeds, anything can happen. And speaking of seeds, the power points driving the seeding is very different in this sectional than NJP’s algorithm. NJP has Nutley #10 in this group despite them being second in PP’s. The Raiders have had a great season and could certainly surprise but the math suggests it may be a big ask for Nutley to advance to the final 4. Garfield falls in this category as well sporting an 18-4 record and third in power points but is sitting 6th in the NJP ratings. Vernon is much higher rated in our system than in power points and could certainly be a final 4 candidate of they play to their potential. Summit comes in as the highest rated powered by Oliver Hogan and Brian Axtell so we will give them the nod in our prediction, but it is a wide open field in North 2.
St. Joe’s Metuchen has been a top 5 team almost all season despite having 7 losses. One of those losses is to Manchester Township who will most likely be the third seed. Pinelands has had a strong season and will likely be the #2 seed and is #2 in the NJP ranking algorithm. All three teams are in the NJP top 20 and all capable of winning the sectional. All three teams have go-to players on the attack that can light up the scoreboard. Scotty Schmitt has been the #1 player in NJP’s player rater all season. The 7-footer has been dominant on the front row on both the attack and the block. Pineland will put their trust in Brogan Duelly who has over 200 kills on the season and Evan Weiner will be the man for Manchester. Weiner is #4 in the player rater and a one man wrecking crew all season long. Typically, the teams that have played a tougher schedule will benefit at state playoff time and St. Joe’s schedule strength is #2 of the 186 teams in NJ. NJP also loves the experience that Coach Cabrita brings to this tournament. Watch for the Falcons to fly to the top here.
North vs South
The NJP algorithm again favors the South with St. Joe’s with the advantage over Summit.
PREDICTION FOR GROUP 2 WINNER: St. Joe’s Metuchen Falcons