The IMG Academy Top 150 winter update for girls in the 2018 graduating class is out today, and there is a new No. 1 on the eve of World Cup qualifying for the U.S. U17 Women’s National Team. CASL midfielder and North Carolina recruit Brianna Pinto takes over the top spot after an impressive performance at the NTC Invitational against Japan. Pinto should play an important attacking role for the U17s in the CONCACAF championship coming in March.
Two players made moves within (or into) the top ten. Naomi Girma has but one spot above her on the list now, as the Stanford recruit continues to deliver spectacular performances, the NTC Invitational being no exception. Goalkeeper Laurel Ivory leaps into the top ten after coming up with some big saves against Japan. The Virginia pledge has improved over the last year, and has proven she is ready to mind the net in the big games.
Other players climbing the ranks this time include Eagles SC goalkeeper Katie Meyer, New Mexico Rush defender Brianna Martinez, New England FC forward MaryKate McGuire, and Albertson SC defender Julietta Thron. Meyer, a Stanford commit, attended a TDS Unsigned Showcase back in 2014, and has spent a lot of the 2015-16 season with the U16 and U17 WNT, narrowly missing a spot on the U17 qualifying roster. Like Meyer, Notre Dame pledge Martinez didn’t make the final U17 WNT roster, but the right back is playing a role with the U16 GNT, having attended every camp for the younger age group in 2015. Thron is involved with the U16 GNT as well, and has committed to Northwestern, while McGuire, who will head to Duke in 2018, was chosen to the all-star roster for December’s ODP Interregional in Florida.
Players making their debut with this update include Midwest United/Michigan Hawks left-sided forward Riley Tanner, Carlsbad Elite midfielder Kayleigh Webb, and two center backs from Concorde Fire in Brandi Peterson and Caeden Price. Tanner is rostered on both the Midwest United USYS National League and the Michigan Hawks ECNL squads, and is a South Carolina recruit. She is one of the leading scorers in the National League this season, with four goals, and is currently attending the ODP National Championships with her Michigan ODP team. Webb is another National League standout, leading her team to a 3-0-1 record in league play, and is committed to Colorado. Peterson and Price make up the center back duo for Concorde’s outstanding U15 ECNL team that are undefeated in league play. Peterson was singled out as one of TopDrawerSoccer.com’s daily best at the ECNL Texas Showcase in February.
Not only has the IMG Academy Top 150 received scrutiny, but the regional lists have been updated as well. Keep checking back over the next couple of weeks as we unveil newcomers such as Dallas Sting defender and Texas A&M pledge Macie Kolb, Crossfire Premier midfielder and Harvard recruit Taylor Nielsen, PDA goalkeeper and former TDS Unsigned Showcase participant Meagan McClelland, Vardar defender Ashley Zugay 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.