The Inquirer's all-South Jersey boys' soccer team is headed up by a trio of players from No. 1-ranked Rancocas Valley.
Joining Inquirer South Jersey player of the year Alec Golini of Rancocas Valley are two senior teammates, forward Manny Payton and defender Terrell White.
Payton showed great versatility by moving up top after being an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey sweeper last season.
A four-year starter, Payton had 20 goals and 3 assists and worked with Golini to form one of the top scoring twosomes in South Jersey. Monmouth, Villanova and Wilmington (Del.) are among the schools that Payton is considering.
Besides being a tenacious defender, White was also vital to the Red Devils' attack. He had eight goals and two assists, and had the speed to mark the quickest forwards. White has not made his college choice, but did make a visit to the University of Chicago.
Joining Payton up front are three dangerous finishers, seniors Ryan Kelly of West Deptford, Trevor Sharpe of Cherry Hill West and Rocco Gambino of Lenape.
Kelly had 25 goals and nine assists in helping West Deptford win the Colonial Conference Liberty Division and South Jersey Group 2 championship. Possessing a wicked shot, Kelly finished with 51 career goals and 23 assists. He has accepted a scholarship to Marshall University.
Cherry Hill West's Sharpe had 27 goals and 12 assists this season and finished with 57 career goals. Few players were marked tighter, but he found a way to score. Duquesne, Salisbury and Radford are among the schools he is considering.
Gambino had 25 goals and 10 assists for Lenape. In four postseason games for the South Jersey Group 4 finalist, Gambino scored four goals, one in each game. He is leaning toward attending Rutgers-Camden.
Besides Rancocas Valley's White, the other first-team defender is Delran senior Garrett Erny. A central defender, Erny helped Delran record 15 shutouts and earn its second consecutive state Group 2 championship. He also scored a goal in the Bears' 2-0 state Group 2 title win over Cliffside Park. Lycoming, Kings, Rutgers Camden, Centenary College of Hackettstown, N.J., Roanoke College, Kean, Castletown State College in Vermont and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy are among the many schools he is considering.
In addition to Golini, the other first-team midfielders are seniors Jake Perry of West Deptford and Brendan Reilly of Holy Cross, and junior Connor Hurff of St. Augustine.
Perry tied a single-season West Deptford record with 32 goals, the most this year in South Jersey. He also added 14 assists. Duquesne, where he made an official visit last week, is among the schools he is considering. In the last two seasons as a varsity performer, Perry totaled 44 goals and 35 assists.
St. Augustine's Hurff had a game similar to Golini's, which was based on impeccable ball control and great vision. A junior, Hurff would much rather dish than score, but he did plenty of both with 15 goals and 18 assists.
Holy Cross's Reilly had 21 goals in 20 games, more impressive considering he spent some time as a sweeper, although was mostly a center midfielder. With great strength, he was hard to push off the ball and displayed outstanding ball control. Six of his goals were game-winners and he also added three assists. La Salle, Rutgers-Camden, St. Joseph's, Delaware and Stockton are among the schools he is considering.
The goalie is Bishop Eustace junior Ryan Miller, who may have the strongest foot in South Jersey. Playing on one of the youngest teams in South Jersey, Miller often kept the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinalists in the game with acrobatic saves. He played the field as a freshman and did score a goal this season in a tournament game against St. Augustine.