The IMG Academy Top 150 Rankings winter update is out today for girls in the 2015 graduating class and Katherine Cousins is the new No. 1. The midfielder from Richmond Kickers started two of three matches for the U.S. U18 Women’s National Team at the La Manga Tournament in March and continues to be a staple of the youth national team setup. Rounding out the top five (in order) are Sockers forward Kayla McCoy, PDA forward/midfielder Taylor Racioppi, Sporting Blue Valley midfielder Dorian Bailey, and MVLA right back Tegan McGrady.
Players making significant moves up the rankings with this update include fellow Penn State commits and U18 WNT members Kaleigh Riehl and Rose Chandler, Washington Premier defender Jessica Udovich, Dallas Sting forward Mimi Asom and Charlotte SA defender Perry Zollicoffer. Riehl, a defender for US Youth Soccer National League divisional champion Braddock Road YC, was recently invited to her first camp with the U20 Women’s National Team and climbs from No. 40 to No. 27. Riehl will be sorely missed from her club team’s attempt at a USYS National championship this July should she make the final U.S. roster for the U20 Women’s World Cup. Chandler, who climbs from No. 39 to No. 29, is a goalkeeper who plays her club soccer for Concorde Fire and has been a staple on the U18 WNT, earning two starts in the March tournament in Spain.
Udovich, who climbs from No. 113 to No. 55, has had an outstanding season for Coach Seth Spidahl’s U17 team, which is currently undefeated in Pacific Division action. Her prowess at the right back position has earned her three goals and three assists in addition to her outstanding 1v1 defending, but she is equally strong at center back, the position she will likely play at Washington. Asom, who will continue to Stanford after her senior year, leads her team in goals with 16 and combined with the midfield prowess of No. 75 Kate Hajdu and No. 45 Ainsly Wolfinbarger, has led her team to a No. 1 position in the Grande Sports Academy TeamRank Top 25. As a result, she climbs from No. 131 to No. 81. Zollicoffer, a center back, rises from No. 143 to No. 120, and has a number of top schools vying for her commitment.
Players making their debut in the IMG Academy 150 with this update include Mustang SC forward Miranda Nild, Albion Hurricanes defender Vanessa Flores, and Carmel United center back Annika Schmidt. At No. 99 Nild, a California commit, has six goals and four assists for Mustang’s U17s that currently lead the ECNL NorCal Division. Flores, who debuts at No. 125, was part of the U17 Mexican National Team for the U17 Women’s World Cup, and Schmidt (at No. 146), who will head to Connecticut in 2015, is a starting center back for a strong Carmel United squad that currently sits second in the ECNL Ohio Valley Division.
Not only has the IMG Academy 150 received scrutiny, but the regional lists have been updated as well. Keep checking back this week as we unveil newcomers such as Carmel United center mid and Memphis commit Brittnee Gilbert, Kings Hammer Academy defender/midfielder and Kentucky commit Payton Atkins, Birmingham United defender and Furman commit Virginia Poe, Carolina Elite forward Kathryn Greer and many more.
As far as how we arrive at the rankings, it’s no simple task.
We keep a national database of players as the starting point for our rankings (if you’re not in it, enter a profile here).
We track an extensive list of selections to national team camps and other honors including USSF Development Academy (Boys), ECNL (Girls), and U.S. Youth Soccer National League event and season awards, plus U.S. Soccer Training Centers, ODP, id2 and other player identification programs.
From there we look at additional signs of top player performance in a club environment, with the help of an extensive network of observers around the country. The priority here is for club, college, national team and other select team coaches on the ground, but especially when we can gain corroborating opinions. The more layers of opinions we can gain accumulate the better, as our role is primarily to aggregate those viewpoints, rather than making our own determination as to a player’s quality.
As a matter of policy, we never share which coaches said what about whom so that coaches will be freer to share their assessments. Another policy is that parents’ opinions about their own children are not considered, but you are welcome to provide feedback about honors and other details that may be of help to us in keeping their profiles up to date as well as our challenge of sifting through thousands of players nationwide. That kind of data can be helpful, but the: “How can you not have rated my kid? He is awesome” communique, while compelling, will be consigned to the virtual trash.
In the end, there’s always some level of subjectivity about players, because after all, how good someone is relative to someone else is largely a matter of opinion, but we do our best to make our rankings as educated an opinion as can be.
The rankings will be updated every quarter. Keeping current rankings for 8 classes of 150 players each is no small task, and it is counterintuitive to think the rankings would change daily or weekly. We will announce each update.
So that’s it. You can see the newest version of the rankings here.