The final update for the IMG Academy Top 150 Rankings for girls in the 2014 graduating class is out today and the obvious pick for the final No. 1 spot is Andi Sullivan. Sullivan scored a wind-aided goal directly from a corner kick in the final of the CONCACAF Women’s U20 Championships, and was the only youth player to wear the U.S. jersey at the tournament. Sullivan is followed in the top five by Duke commit Imani Dorsey at No. 2, North Carolina commit Megan Buckingham at No. 3, Texas A&M commit Mikaela Harvey at No. 4, and finally CASL defender Morgan Reid at No. 5, who will head to Duke with Dorsey.
Climbing the ranks in their final youth season are several players who receive frequent mention when top players are discussed. Connecticut FC’s Darien Dunham was the only youth player other than Sullivan called into the U20 WNT camp in November, and for that accolade, the goalkeeper who will head to Connecticut, moves into the top 10 at No. 10. When not attending multiple U18 WNT camps, Braddock Road YC midfielder Carlyn Baldwin (Tennessee) has spent her senior year helping her team clinch the USYS National League’s red division, and rises from No. 49 to No. 37 in our rankings.
Three more players worthy of mention are Utah Avalanche’s Mariah Elmer, MVLA’s Megan Keeth, and Sporting Blue Valley’s Abigail Sieperda. Elmer, a forward who will play at Utah in the fall, missed out on the most recent U18 WNT camp because of an injury, but has been playing really well in the ECNL according to Avalanche Director of Coaching Jimmie Powell, and makes a huge jump from No. 148 to No. 68. Keeth, who moves from No. 131 to No. 74, has attended the last three camps for the U18 WNT and will be an asset along the back line for Santa Clara when her youth career comes to a close. Finally, Sieperda, a commit to Arkansas, climbs to No. 96 and has provided her team with nearly half (21) of their 44 goals this season, leading SBV to the top of the ECNL’s Heartland Division.
Not only has the IMG Top 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 defender and Miami (OH) commit Amy Malone, East Meadow defender and Rider commit Emily Schmitt, FC Nova midfielder and Montana commit Hallie Widner, Real So Cal defender and Oregon commit Michelle Rockey, 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.