The IMG Academy Top 150 fall update for girls in the 2018 graduating class is out today, and several players make moves within the top 20. These players have had a busy few months with youth national team camps, fall club seasons, and/or high school soccer. Oklahoma FC goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff and La Roca FC forward Olivia Wade both enter the top 20 for the first time, while Central Valley Crossfire defender Naomi Girma moves into the top 10. Hancuff stood out in the U16 Girls National Team scrimmage against the U17 Women’s National Team in October, earning a nod as one of the best on the day, as did Girma. Girma entered her fourth camp with the U17s in October, and she continues to impress at center back at that level. Wade has more than a handful of U17 camps under her belt, and finished the US Youth National Championships last summer tied for leading scorer (along with teammate Macy Martinez).
Scattered among the rest of the rankings are players who came highly recommended based on their play since the last update, or with national and regional teams in the last couple of months. These players either increased their ranking or make their debut with the IMG Academy 150 with this update.
Solar Chelsea defender/forward Karlina Sample, Ohio Elite SA forward Ravin Alexander, Real So Cal midfielder/forward Luisa Delgado-Heinz, Cincinnati United Premier goalkeeper Mimi Stines, and Real Colorado defender Shae Holmes are a few to be highlighted here.
Sample earned a spot on the TDS Best XI for her play in central defense at the ECNL final weekend last summer, and for her ability to score on set pieces. She is constantly touted by opposing coaches as one of the best, if not THE best defenders in the Texas region.
Alexander is a fast, technical forward that has earned her way into two U16 GNT camps in the last two months. She is a member of the Ohio Elite U16 ECNL team that finished first in the Mid-Atlantic Conference during the 2014-15 season.
Stines plays on the same Summit Country Day soccer team as Ravin Alexander, but calls USYS National League contender CUP Gold her home club. Stines’ efforts in net for CUP allowed just one goal in Midwest Regional League play last spring, along with just one in the USYS Region II championships.
Delgado Heinz is well on her way towards a roster spot on the U17 Mexican Women’s National Team when World Cup qualifying rolls around next spring, having attended multiple camps with the squad in 2015. The Stanford recruit recorded 17 goals and eight assists during the ECNL 2014-15 regular season to lead her team to a playoff berth.
Holmes is a left back for Neil Payne’s U16 ECNL squad who started her year with a spot on the ODP Region IV Top 18, and is now being recognized on the national stage, having attended the last three camps with the U17 WNT.
Not only has the IMG Academy Top 150 received scrutiny, but the regional lists have been updated as well. Keep checking back this week as we unveil newcomers such as Jacksonville FC defender Allie Rathbun, Albertson SC defender Madeline Gravante, Pleasanton Rage midfielder Sayler Bagnall, FC Nova forward and holding midfielder Josephine Bush, Sereno SC center midfielder and forward Katrina Wetherell 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 three times per year. 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.