The state tournament draw didn’t go well for these teams, but don’t count them out just yet.
With state tournament play less than a week away, and our comprehensive preview now underway, here are 15 lower-seeded teams that could make a run in 2020.
Playing in the Super Essex Conference has prepared Bloomfield well for state tournament play and this won’t be a team to sleep on in the Northeast Group 4 state tournament. Bloomfield should be a tough matchup as the No. 9-seed for Ridgewood and if it survives there, it should give No. 1-seed Montclair a game in the quarterfinals.
Bordentown was deserving of better than the No. 7-seed in South, Group 2 but the Scotties should enter tournament play this weekend with plenty of motivation. This is a team, after all, that went eight games without a loss this season and has contended near the top of the Burlington County Scholastic League. In reality, there isn’t a team in this section that Bordentown can’t beat, starting with No. 10-seed Delsea in the first round.
Maybe its seed speaks to the quality and depth of Central East’s Middlesex/Union Group 4 bracket, but East Brunswick is no typical No. 8-seed. The Bears spent the early part of the season ranked in the Top 20, they had a tie with defending Group 3 champion Millburn and, all things considered, have looked pretty good this season.
East Brunswick will battle with Red Division foe and No. 9-seed Old Bridge in the first round with hopes of getting a third chance to knock off No. 1-seed Monroe in the quarterfinals next week.
Gov. Livingston has put together a solid resume this season, including accounting for the only win over Oratory in 2020, but will hit the road in the opening round of the state tournament. Gov. Livingston is the No. 6-seed in Central East’s Middlesex/Union Group 2 tournament and will be a dangerous team, even on the road in the first round against No. 3-seed South Plainfield.
A season of ups and downs landed Harrison as a double-digit seed at No. 10 in the Northeast Group 2-A bracket, meaning the Blue Tide will have plenty of work to do on the road this postseason. Harrison opened the year with three straight wins, but lost its next three games before rebounding with a win over North Arlington and a tie to Pompton Lakes. Harrison will be on the road to face No. 7-seed Lodi in the first round.
This has been a rebuilding year for Jackson Memorial, which enters the final week of the regular season with just one win, but the state tournament could be a fresh start for the Jaguars. As the No. 9-seed in Central East’s Monmouth/Ocean Group 4 bracket, Jackson will visit No. 8-seed Marlboro in the first round in a winnable game. And from there, Jackson could get a chance to spoil No. 1-seed Toms River North’s chance to win a second straight sectional title.
A stellar regular-season resume wasn’t enough to reward Mahwah with a first-round bye, so it will play at home this weekend against No. 9-seed Verona. But don’t be fooled: this Mahwah team is capable of winning this bracket, even if it means a trip to No. 1-seed Leonia in the second round. Mahwah’s only losses this season have come against No. 1-ranked Clifton and Ramsey (which just beat Clifton) twice.
Manasquan has taken its lumps in the second half of the season in an unforgiving division in the Shore Conference this season, but the Warriors could be better for it. Manasquan enters the final week of the regular season on a six-game losing skid but will have a chance to make a serious run in the Central East’s Monmouth/Ocean Group 1 / 2 bracket as the No. 8-seed. Manasquan will host No. 9-seed Monmouth in the first round and win there would mean a chance to upset No. 1-seed and heavy favorite Holmdel in the quarterfinals.
Maple Shade lost just once through the state tournament cutoff date, but will have its work cut out nonetheless in the South, Group 1-A tournament as the No. 11-seed. The first test? A trip to defending South Jersey, Group 1 champion Lindenwold.
Don’t let Morristown’s record fool you, this is a team capable of winning in the state tournament. Morristown is the No. 8-seed in the Northwest Group 4 tournament and won just its second game of the season over the weekend, but the Colonials are a battle-tested team that has gone up against the best teams in Morris County all season. Morristown will be favored to win at home against No. 9-seed Paterson Eastside in the first round before getting a crack at No. 1-ranked Clifton.
A wacky regular season that saw Rancocas Valley go weeks between games is probably responsible for the Red Devils getting the No. 11-seed in South, Group 4. Rancocas Valley has lost its last four games, but all by just one goal. Early season wins over Moorestown and Haddonfield prove that this team, even as a double-digit seed, can play with any team. A trip to No. 6-seed Cherry Hill East awaits RV in the first round of the state tournament.
Robbinsville had a promising regular season, including a 3-2 win over Princeton, but will have a tough road ahead in the Central West Group 1 / 2 / 3 bracket as the No. 8-seed. Robbinsville will host No. 9-seed Somerville in the first round this week and could be an intriguing matchup for No. 1-seed Bernards in the quarterfinals.
This may not be one of the best teams Scotch Plains-Fanwood has ever had, but it’s still a really good team — just ask previously unbeaten Elizabeth. Scotch Plains was shockingly given the No. 12-seed in the Central East’s Middlesex/Union bracket, meaning the Raiders will have to win on the road to keep its season alive. The first test? A battle with rival Westfield four days after the two teams meet in the Union County Tournament final.
Summit lost its first seven games this season, but has won three of its last four games entering the last week of the regular season and will be a legitimate contender in the eight-team field in Central East’s Middlesex/Union Group 3 tournament. Summit will visit No. 2-seed Cranford in the first round in a winnable game and from there, could have a path to a sectional title game.
Williamstown battled with the top teams in the Tri-County Conference’s Royal Division all season and should be well-prepared to make a run in the South, Group 4 tournament as the No. 9-seed. Williamstown will visit No. 8-seed Eastern in the opening round in a game that carries plenty of intrigue.