The IMG Academy Top 150 for girls in the 2018 graduating class is out today, and Penn Fusion center midfielder Rachael Dorwart is No. 1. TopDrawerSoccer.com first saw her a year ago at US Club Soccer id2 camp in Charleston, SC where she was chosen one of the top players at the camp. Her comfort on the ball and her vision, combined with a powerful ability to strike from distance has led to 25 goals for Fusion’s U15s this season in ECNL play, third most at the U15 age group, and tops for the class of 2018, especially as a center mid. U.S. Soccer has taken notice as well, including her in all camps for the 1999 age group in 2014, including the new cycle for the U.S. U17 Women’s National Team, which started its first camp Sunday.
The rest of the top five have their own credentials, and like Dorwart, were highly recommended by coaches and scouts around the country. Topping the Great Lakes region and at No. 2 overall is Michigan Hawks forward Alexa Spaanstra. Spaanstra has been a part of the U14 WNT for the better part of two years, and as a 2000 birth year, is one of the youngest players at the current U17 camp. Add to that 13 goals and 13 assists for Michigan Hawks ECNL this season and multiple recommendations from coaches around the country. Rounding out the top five are Crossfire goalkeeper Anna Smith, Real Colorado midfielder Jaelin Howell, and Colorado Storm forward Allison Schlegel. Smith, at No. 3, tops the Pacific Northwest region and will share the field at U17 WNT camp with teammates Kelsey Turnbow, Kai Henderson, and Jojo Harber from the class of 2017, so she should be comfortable commanding her national team as a netminder. No. 4 and No. 5 hail from the Rockies soccer hotbed of Colorado. Howell is a midfielder whose play also landed her a spot at U17 WNT camp, while Schlegel, a forward playing up on Storm’s U15s, has 13 goals and 10 assists and is a part of the U14 GNT and the U15 GNT. Shlegel, though a forward, can play virtually anywhere on the field and is just as comfortable at attacking midfield or out wide.
A couple of other players to highlight in this initial list include La Roca FC’s Olivia Wade, PDA’s Jessica Schildkraut, Minnesota Thunder’s Alana Dressly and Concorde Fire’s Kristen Edmond. Wade, a midfielder, was named to the best 18 at the 2014 ODP Region IV Championships and was highly recommended for her spot at No. 68. Schildkraut (No. 65), a forward, is one of the top scorers in the ECNL’s U14 age group (when she’s not providing for her teammates, that is), with 16 goals and 17 assists on the season, and has attended multiple national identification camps. Both center backs, Dressly (No. 45) plays up a full year for Minnesota Thunder’s U15s, while Edmond (No. 72) commands the back line for Derek Leader’s seventh seeded Concorde Fire U14s.
In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we will unveil the first regional lists for the class of 2018 throughout the week. Some of the players who made the lists include Sockers forward Schyler Kingsley, Cleveland FC midfielder Ally Sidoski, ISC Gunners midfielder Lauren Rosen, and St. Louis Scott Gallagher midfielder Emily Groark. Keep checking back to see who else made the lists.
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 first version of the rankings here.