With the arrival of fall comes the NSCAA fall national rankings, which then breaks off into more area-specific regional rankings. These mop up more teams in specific areas of the country that didn't necessary make the national top 25. Throughout the season, this space will tackle each boys and girls region and a few salient points about each from week to week.
Now that the season has begun for most of the country, let’s take a look at each of the six NSCAA girls regional polls and a few of the most interesting story lines.
New Hampshire’s Exeter opens the year as the New England region’s top team after storming to its sixth state title in seven seasons. Programs don’t get much more dominant than Exeter, which is 122-8-6 since 2006. Massachusetts outfits Franklin and Beverly capture the Nos. 2 and 3 spots respectively, while Maine’s Scarborough takes No. 4. No. 10 Glastonbury is probably the region’s sleeper. Glastonbury has lost just four games in the last five years, one of which was in the final seconds of last year’s state title game. This team is probably even better.
As far as girls soccer is concerned, Region II is the pinnacle thanks to New York’s national-level dominance. A full five programs from the Empire State pepper the national top 25, including No. 1 overall South Side. Washingtonville takes No. 2, while Islip, St. Anthony’s and Webster Thomas round out the regional top five. The fact that No. 4 St. Anthony’s couldn’t crack the top three is a show of New York’s depth in girls soccer. The program went 19-2-1 last year, won a second straight state title and returns 11 players with starting experience.
Much like Region II, the depth here is staggering. Northern Highlands takes the No. 1 spot by virtue of a strong 2012, but they have plenty of chasers. Chief among them are No. 2 Peters Township (2-0-0), No. 3 Montgomery and No. 8 Wilson (1-0-0). Montgomery especially will be heaped with expectation. The Skillman, N.J. program went 23-1-2 last year and navigated through the Skyland Conference en route to a state title. The Skyland is generally considered one of the toughest girls high school leagues in the nation. It produced not one but two state titles last year. Pingry, the other, is No. 15.
Arguably the most top-heavy girls region in the country, this grouping which is anchored in the D.C. area is immense at its peak. No. 1 McDonough, No. 4 Good Counsel and No. 6 Bishop O’Connell typically play each other during the season in a D.C.-area Catholic league, which are always occasions to follow. Last year Good Counsel won the conference with a 2-0 win over Bishop O’Connell, but GC has to deal with the loss of Midge Purce, who scored 27 goals last year and is now at Harvard. No. 3 Tates Creek (Lexington, Ky.) is one to watch after winning 23 games last year. They have most of that state title-winning team back.
Ohio is a reputed playground for girls soccer talent, which helps make this midwest region a deep one. It all starts with No. 1 Carmel (Ind.), which is No. 6 nationally and sports six key returning starters from last year. That includes Amy Malone and her sturdy 15 assists from last year. At No. 4, Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) has a sturdy perch from which to climb after going unbeaten in 2012 to capture a sixth Ohio state title. No. 6 Lakeville North is Minnesota’s top girls program and has several players who spurned their ECNL club to chase a state crown.
No surprises here. Northern California’s Maria Carrillo opens the first poll as the west region’s top-ranked squad after capturing the national No. 1 late last year and hanging onto it through the offseason. Maria Carrillo was bumped to No. 2 nationally in NSCAA’s poll, but there’s no questioning its dominance here. Seattle-area squads Issaquah (No. 3) and Skyline (No. 5) have one of the juiciest district rivalries in the country and are guaranteed at least one game this year. No. 6 Eldorado is New Mexico’s top girls team, while Idaho’s No. 10 Bishop Kelly sports the nation’s longest win streak at 70 games after a 2-0-0 start.