As you all know, we are in the process of scouring the country in a search for the most talented players in the land. Today’s search brings us to a soccer hotbed, Southern California. Here’s a look at the region’s best girls in the 2013 graduating class.
Let’s start with some of the best players on the region’s best team, So Cal Blues.
Amber Munerlyn is already one of the better known players in the 2013 class, and for good reason. A current member of the U15 National Team, this forward’s best asset is her athleticism. She maximizes her scorching speed by making intelligent runs across the defense, and she is able to trick defenders with her feet or simply blow by them. She can turn on a dime and has a very accurate shot, and we’re likely to see her on the U17 World Cup roster in 2012.
Sidney Fuertes is the Blues’ defensive midfielder; she is the glue that holds together the middle of the field. She is a fierce defender who uses her tactical knowledge and superior positioning to her advantage, and she is very strong in the air. She is one of the most industrious and productive players in this bunch.
San Diego Surf, another regional power, is also stacked with talent.
Victoria Manfredonia is a forward who gives opposing defenses headaches. She is technically sound, very athletic and strong, but it’s her frenetic work rate that sets her apart. She’s very aggressive and puts constant pressure on any defense that tries to posses the ball. Her workhorse mentality and her impeccable timing on runs allow her to score goals in bunches.
Erika Leal is a very reliable and versatile player who can play center back, attacking mid and forward with equal quality. She is extremely skilled and is adept at distributing the ball from anywhere on the field; but she’s also not afraid to shoot on goal herself. She scores a lot of goals for her club.
Ana Cruz is a traditional playmaking central midfielder. She acts as the fulcrum of the Surf offense: she gets the ball a lot, but she distributes it quickly and keeps the ball moving. She’s not flashy, but is extremely consistent and reliable. She’s also a top-rate dead-ball specialist, with the ability to drive the ball, bend it, or manipulate it as she sees fit.
Maura Duggan is a very reliable center back. She stays behind the ball and organizes her defense with confidence. She is a very steady presence who wins a lot of 50/50 balls for her team, and when there’s a scrum, she gets in there and fights and usually ends up with the ball.
For Real So Cal, Rachel Conners is a left-footed central midfielder with great vision and all the physical tools. She’s a complete player who possesses rock-solid defending abilities and an equally impressive sense of when to attack. She is a natural leader and has a commanding presence in the middle of the field.
Ariel Shipp is a forward/midfielder with great technical abilities and a very clean touch. She is fluid with the ball at her feet, and she scores and distributes with equal effectiveness.
Madison Kaplan is a right back with good defensive awareness and a powerful and accurate right leg. She is a free kick specialist and delivers great services from the back of the field
Nicole Smolinski is the center back on a talented West Coast SC team. She is a gifted athlete, very quick and very strong, with a great first touch on the ball. Equally important, as the captain of her team, she is a great leader and a quick learner. A starter as a freshman at high school soccer power Aliso Niguel, she will be a top Division I recruit in a few years.
Nicole’s teammate Jamilah Tejan is a holding center midfielder who is smooth as silk on the ball. She’s got great pace and plays the game in a higher gear than most. She distributes well, is smart and has a good attacking mind, but she is physical and is capable of shutting the opposition down as a defender. She is extremely versatile and smooth.
Nosakhare Ogiamien is a natural target forward with great size. She is perfect focal point of any attack: she shoots well, heads the ball with strength and accuracy, and is great at holding the ball up front. She has a knack for finishing crosses in the air, and also stars for regional power Esperanza High School.