The final week of the regular season is upon us.
The last of the district and conference tournaments will conclude and the state tournament will be set.
While there will be state tournament games that could make this list, we’re focusing on the other games that are on the schedule.
Here is the final weekly list of can’t-miss games for the 2023 season.
Monday, October 23
Mercer County Final – Princeton vs. Hun, 6
Princeton hopes this is finally the year it wins that elusive district title, and a strong Hun team stands in the way.
Kingsway at West Essex, 4:30
#2 vs. #1, need we say more? Both teams have passed all of their big tests at states so far, and the winner can lock up the top spot in New Jersey for the rest of the season, barring trouble. The talent on the field in this game will be off the charts and this is not a game you want to miss.
St. Joseph (Ham) in Middle Township, 4
St. Joseph (Ham) knocked Middle Township out of the Cape-Atlantic League tournament, 1-0. Here’s a chance for Middle Township to get payback before diving into the state tournament.
Haddon Heights at 7 Haddonfield
The Liberty Division of the Colonial Conference is still up for grabs and three teams have a chance to win it. Haddonfield have the inside track to the title and a win would almost wrap it up. Haddon Heights’ win puts West Deptford back in the bracket and sets the stakes even higher for play later in the week.
Oak Knoll in Phillipsburg, 4
Phillipsburg cooled off after a fiery start to the season. What better way to prepare for the state tournament than playing the favorite to reach the non-public state final and perennial power? Oak Knoll just won the Union County title and a win here could be another big boost.
Summit at Pompton Lakes, 4:30
Pompton Lakes is riding high with momentum after an epic 2-1 buzzer beater victory over West Milford in the Passaic County final. Summit, meanwhile, fell to Oak Knoll in the Union County final. Summit is a team to keep an eye on and a win over a ranked team like Pompton Lakes could be the spark for a playoff run.
Tuesday, Oct. 24
Cape-Atlantic League Final – Ocean City vs. Hammonton, 3:30
Hammonton had Ocean City’s number this season and swept the season series, though both games were 2-1. These teams are very evenly matched which will make this final of the tournament exciting to catch. The saying goes that it’s hard to beat a team three times in a row, so will Hammonton have what it takes?
North Hunterdon at East Brunswick, 4:30
North Hunterdon is gearing up for a state three-peat, and East Brunswick is hoping to ride the momentum of winning its third straight GMC crown in a stretch. This could also be the game East Brunswick needs to throw its name in the hat to make the Top 20.
Chatham at Randolph, 4
It’s always a battle when these two rivals meet. Chatham has had the advantage so far with two wins, one of which came in the Morris County quarterfinals. If Chatham wins, it earns a share of the NJAC American Division title with Mendham. Lose and Mendham wins it decisively.
Pingree in Madison, 4
These are two teams that could find themselves playing in a sectional final in a few weeks, making this a very interesting non-conference battle for both. What’s more, both teams are coming off tough losses in their respective county finals.
Lenape at Seneca, 3:45
These are also two teams that imagine participating in a split final. Lenape had a four-game winning streak snapped by a loss to Shawnee on Oct. 19, while Seneca is riding a six-game winning streak. Seneca has won four of the last five between these two dating back to 2018.
Shore Conference Semifinals
These will be fascinating games to watch. One semifinal pits Rumson-Fair Haven against Point Pleasant Boro, and the other sees Shore take on Southern. Anything can happen in these games, and both will be worth the price of admission.
Wednesday, Oct. 25
Haddon Heights in West Deptford, 6
As we said before, if Haddon Heights beats Haddonfield on Monday, this game could be the one that decides the division. Haddonfield also plays Haddon Township on that day. Here’s how things could go if Haddon Heights wins on Monday: Haddonfield wins the division if: 1-West Deptford and Haddon Heights tie. 2-Wins share if Haddonfield and Haddon Heights win. Haddon Heights wins the division if: 1-Win over West Deptford and Haddonfield tie or lose to Haddon Township. 2-Earns a share if he and Haddonfield win. West Deptford wins the division if: 1-It and Haddon Heights win. 2-Wins a share if Haddonfield wins and Haddon Township ties.
Thursday, Oct. 26
Southern at Ocean City, 4:15
These two non-conference foes will meet after some intense tournament games earlier in the week. Southern has won four of five entering Tuesday’s Shore Conference semifinals. Ocean City is riding a four-game unbeaten streak entering the Cape-Atlantic League final.
Central Regional in Allentown, 4
Non-conference play continues and this pits the Shore Conference against the CVC. Allentown had a crushing loss to Princeton, ending its Mercer County bid, and a 3-0 loss to Shore did the same for the Central Regional in the Shore Conference.
Oak Knoll at Ridge, 4
Another Skyland Conference team wanted a matchup against a perennial power before the state tournament. Ridge won their third straight Somerset County title at the weekend and are keen to see how they fare.
Seneca at Shawnee, 4:15
This will be one of the best games in the conference this week. Both teams are vying for second place in the Olympic Conference behind Camden Catholic. Seneca has won the last two head-to-head meetings in the last two seasons.
Bishop Eustace in Rancocas Valley, 4
Those two are contenders in their respective state tournament brackets and could use one last momentum boost before the sprint to Bordentown begins. Rancocas Valley has won four of five, while Bishop Eustace has won six of eight.
Kingsway at North Hunterdon, 4:30
Kingsway picked up some big games in the final week of the regular season and this is no different. It will be the second time in four days that he will face another defending state champion. It will be North Hunterdon’s 11th game against a team that was ranked in the Top 20 this season.
Saturday, October 28
Camden Catholic at West Essex TBA
This game will officially end the regular season. Too bad this isn’t a potential Tournament of Champions preview, but these teams will play with the intensity of a TOC match. Camden Catholic won in overtime when they met at the end of the 2022 regular season.
Sunday, October 29
Coastal Conference Final – TBD, 12
Can Rumson-Fair Haven and Southern handle Tuesday’s issues? Will we have a third straight Shore Conference final against Shore vs. Point Pleasant Boro? Time will tell, but this finale never disappoints.
Brian Bobal can be found at [email protected].
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