WCTC will have play-by-play of the Middlesex Blue Jays and Somerville Pioneers in their quests for state championships today and tonight.
We begin with Middlesex, as we join the Central Jersey Group 1 title game in progress around 4:15 after the Rutgers women's basketball team's home game against Siena. The 4th-seeded Blue Jays (10-1) take on 7th seeded Point Pleasant Beach (7-4) at Kean University in Union at 4 pm. Max Scheiner and Chris Harring will call the action.
The Blue Jays are having a tremendous year after finishing 9-1 just a season ago. They also beat Point Beach in the regular season, 28-12 on the road. All-time, Middlesex has won 6 of 8 meetings with the Garnet Gulls, with the only losses coming last year, and in 2011. In fact, their first two meetings came in the playoffs. In 1981, the top-seeded Blue Jays beat Point Beach 2-0 en route to the Central Jersey Group 1 title. The next year, Middlesex also was the top seed, and beat the Garnet Gulls in the title game 25-14.
Middlesex is 4-0 all time in state championship games. They won the 1974 Central Jersey Group 1 title, then brought home three CJ1 titles in four years: 1981, 1982 and 1984,
As for Somerville, the Pioneers are coming off a remarkable turnaround that took place last year under head coach Jeff Vanderbeek. They were undefeated heading into the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals, and were knocked out by Rumson with a 21-13 loss. This year, Somerville already has dropped a game, as has Rumson; both teams come in 10-1. The CJ3 title tilt tips at 7 pm at Rutgers University's High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino have the call.
Somerville suffered some big losses to graduation, but seemingly hasn't missed a beat. Rumson likes to play a ball-control offense, fueled by their ground game. The Pioneers, in last year's semifinals, were limited to about half their normal snaps, and head coach Jeff Vanderbeek believes this year, his team will be able to adjust. Somerville is in the finals for the first time since losing to Manasquan in the 2002 Central Jersey Group 2 title game. Their last championship came in 1994. Rumson, meanwhile, is looking to become just the second Shore Conference team to win 5 state championships in a row. (Manasquan is the other; none in the league have won six straight.) The Bulldogs have won the last two CJ3 titles, and won the CJ2 title in the two years prior.