OCEAN TOWNSHIP – The Spartans finished ranked fifth last season in the Shore Conference after winning 18 games and capturing the Class B North championship with a 6-1 division record for the second consecutive year.

But losses in both the Shore Conference Tournament final and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship game left some unfinished business on the table for this year’s squad.

 Luckily for Ocean Township they returned seven starters and a host of significant bench players from last year’s team that felt the pain of those losses and they’re out to heal the wound. 

 They also brought in Shore Regional transfer Leo Montesinos, who was a second-team  All-Shore selection after scoring 16 goals for the Blue Devils last season and it’s been a smooth transition for the talented midfielder. He’s tallied seven goals – second on team – and has assisted on five others.

 The Spartans are currently ranked fifth in the Shore Conference, posting a 13-3 record and were awarded a four seed and a bye in the Shore Conference Tournament.

 Shore Sports Network second-team All-Shore pick Santieno Harding has been scoring at close to a goal-a-game clip and leads the Spartans with 13 goals so far this season. The ultra-talented striker also has four assists after scoring 11 goals with seven assists last season, including three goals and three assists in postseason play.

 Second-team All-Shore defender Zach Sintic is back anchoring a defense that allowed just nine goals in 14 divisional games last season and that unit is again one of the top defenses in the Shore, giving up just 15 goals in 17 games, including eight shutouts.

 From his center-back position, Sintic, besides being a shutdown defender, is an offensive threat with two goals and seven assists while excelling on free kicks on set pieces.

 Senior marking back Mark Mauro and seniors Eli Brandimarte and Brent Gaber join Sintic on defense, giving the Spartans as formidable a back line as there is in the Shore.

 You can’t talk Spartans defense without mentioning All-Division goalkeeper Max Winters, who’s having another outstanding year in the nets. After stopping 96 shots on goal last season, the senior goalie has 51 saves to his credit along with those eight shutouts.

 Joining Montesinos in the midfield is All-Division selection Luke Yates, who’s another leader in the midfield having scored one goal with three assists this season. Seniors Griffin Adolf (3 goals, 2 assists) and James Schutz (5 goals, 2 assists) and newcomers Robert Lopes, who’s been an added offensive threat with six goals and four assists, and freshman Aiden Tisony (2 goals, 1 assist)  give the Spartans strength in the middle both in scoring and defending.

 Seniors Kirk Jones (1 goal) and Sean Reid (1 goal) have contributed on the front line this season as well.

 Following their first-round bye in the Shore Conference Tournament, Ocean Township eked out a 1-0 win over 13th-seeded Toms River North (8-4-3) in the round of 16. Schutz scored off a Harding assist for the lone goal of the contest and the Spartans advance to play No. 21 seed Raritan (7-7-1), who upset No. 5 seed Freehold Township in a shocker.

 UPDATE: The Spartans (14-3) jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead and added a second-half goal to advance into the semifinals for the second straight year and third time in four years. Harding scored both his goals in the first half and Vasquez added one in the 64th minute to lead the Spartans. Yates and Schultz chipped in with assists while Winters picked up his ninth shutout of the season. Ocean now has the unenviable task of playing top-ranked Holmdel, who beat them 7-1 in last year’s final.

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