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Oct 12, 2021

MHSN Boys’ Soccer Team Ready to ‘Make Noise’ in the Postseason

By Tim Morris

With their eyes toward postseason tournament play, the Middletown High School North boys’ soccer team is shifting the focus.

“We’ve changed our system to be more offensive,” Lion Head Coach Eric Morley explained. Morley is confident he has the kind of players who can be aggressive and attack the goal. “We’re going to play through the middle and attack at all times. We have a tough, gritty group.”

The Lions showed promise last fall, going 4-7-1 overall and 4-5-1 in the tough A North Division, playing through the pandemic-challenged campaign. Scoring points was the club’s biggest hindrance in 2020 as they averaged just over a goal a game. With a more attacking style in 2021, Morley believes North can “make some noise” this season.

Although the Lions graduated nine seniors, the team does return a lot of experience because Morley believes in playing everyone.

“We have a lot of guys who are familiar each other, and they know they have more to prove,” he said.

The core of the ’21 Lions is the team’s three captains: Michael Colantino (Jr. F), CJ Crolius (Jr. D) and Chris Jensen (Sr. MF).

Morley considers Crolius one of the finest defenders in the Shore Conference, if not the state. He is a shutdown defender who takes on the oppositions’ top strikers and holds them in the check.

Colantino and Jensen were keys to the team’s attacking offense, Jensen facilitating through midfield and Colantino finishing.

Sophomore Travis Soto has the potential to be a scorer, adding another forward to contend with. Dom Soares, Matt Silva and Anthony Giamanco will add balance to the offense.

With Crolius in the back, that alone makes the defensive unit formidable. Liam O’Keefe, Sam Calhoun and Ryan Barnao round out back line. Last year, North allowed only 1.5 goals a match.

Junior Andrew Marinelli is new in goal. Playing a number of sophomores and a freshman at key positions is not a problem to Morley.

“I believe in playing younger kids,” he pointed out.

Completing the 2021 Lions are senior Aiden D’Antonio; juniors Matt Kolk, CJ Sanford and Vinny Valinotti; sophomores Tommy Valinotti and Jake Isakensen; and freshman Nick Dinella.

“We have a lot of depth,” said Morley, who intends to make use of it this fall.

Morley, who will begin his second season at the helm of the Lion program, is familiar with North soccer, having been an assistant for former head coach Fred Napoli for five years. 

“Everyone is working hard,” Morley explained. “The team chemistry is the best I’ve seen.”