The IMG Academy Top 150 rankings update for girls in the 2019 graduating class is out today, and Slammers midfielder Jenna Nighswonger remains No. 1. But there has been some movement among those in the top 20, the most notable of those being Concorde Fire’s Croix Bethune who climbs to No. 3. Bethune was the youngest player on the U.S. U17 Women’s National Team roster at October’s combined camp with the U16 GNT, while fellow top fives Nighswonger and No. 4 Maycee Bell competed for the younger side.
There were more than a few players outside of the top 20 that have improved their position with this update, as well as some that debut throughout the list. Among the rising stars are Tophat forward Hannah White, Texas Rush midfielder/defender Sarah Piper, CASL defender Maggie Pierce, Vardar forward Rachel Rasins, and Dallas Kicks midfielder Taylor Tufts.
White has amassed an astounding 20 goals and added 11 assists to this point in the ECNL season, including scoring five of her team’s seven goals at the ECNL Phoenix showcase. With six matches left in the regular season for the Tophat U15s, at this pace her total could near thirty.
Piper performed as a center back and in a defensive midfield role for the U16 GNT in its scrimmage against the U17WNT in October, and was a standout in both positions.
Pierce is a center back/mid for CASL’s U14 ECNL team that attended three TDS Unsigned Showcases (formerly called TDS Combines) and earned a spot on the best xi at each one. She was also highlighted by our showcase staff as one of the overall standouts from the summer. Couple that with being the first verbal commitment from this class to stellar program North Carolina, and her ranking rises as a result.
Rasins is another TDS Combine alumna who continues to excel for her club. She is the leading scorer for Vardar’s U16 ECNL team (with five goals and three assists) that currently sits in third in the Midwest Conference.
Tufts is an attacking center mid for the Kicks U15 National League team that just finished the Region III Premier League West season on top of the standings, and will spend next week with the U15GNT in Florida.
In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we will unveil the regional rankings throughout the week. Some of the players on our list include Midwest United center mid Avery Lockwood, GSA forward/midfielder Ciara Whitely, San Diego Surf defender Mirai Hayakawa, Sporting Blue Valley midfielder Shae Turner, and many, many more.
Keep checking back throughout the week 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 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.