Two big soccer rivalries, featuring the Ocean City and Mainland Regional high school girls teams, and the St. Augustine Prep and Christian Brothers Academy boys teams, will continue Thursday with sectional titles on the line.
Top-seeded Ocean City (21-1-1), ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11, will host third-seeded Mainland Regional (15-6) at 11 a.m. at Carey Stadium for the South Jersey Group III girls soccer championship.
Top-seeded St. Augustine (18-4), No. 1 in the Elite 11, will host four-time defending S.J. Non-Public A champion Christian Brothers Academy (13-3-3), the second seed, at 4 p.m. for that sectional title.
The Ocean City girls team beat Mainland twice in the regular season, both times 5-0.
“It’s kind of cool to play a familiar opponent,” Ocean City girls soccer coach Kelly Halliday said. “But playoffs are kind of a different animal. Both teams are different from where we were in September. We were undefeated in the (Cape-Atlantic League) so everyone really wants to beat us. Mainland got a good spot in the playoffs and had a pretty nice run. Mainland beat us three times last year and once for the CAL title, so the girls are probably tired of me telling them that.”
Mainland has won eight of its last nine games since its last loss to Ocean City on Oct. 2
“We’ve been challenging ourselves, and it’s been a nice run so far,” Mainland coach Chris Connolly said. “We meet them a lot, like in football, so it keeps it interesting. Hopefully we’ll keep up the pressure and minimize our mistakes. Ocean City is a great team, and it’s a great test for us to see how much we’ve improved this season. We’re looking forward to it.”
St. Augustine has made the sectional championship game three of the previous four years, including 2018, but lost to CBA each time. The Colts beat the Prep 4-1 in last year’s final.
St. Augustine topped eighth-seeded Camden Catholic 4-0 and fourth-seeded Paul VI on its way to the final.
“With our current history with them, I always watch out of the corner of my eye on how they do during the season,” St. Augustine coach Steve Rolando said. “Because of our efforts this year, we were able to get the No. 1 seed and play at home instead of making the hour and a half drive there. We like playing on our home field. We’re excited.
“Our seniors have showed great leadership on and off the field, and everyone’s bought in. We’re ready to give CBA a good game and hopefully come out on the winning side of that.”