Years go by, yet some things never change -- such as St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) and St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) front and center in the national conversation of best fall-playing high school boys soccer teams. St. Benedict's and St. Ignatius have combined to claim five of the last six SIMA FAB 50 Fall No. 1 final rankings. They start the 2016 season in the same order they finished 2015, with St. Benedict's at No. 1 and St. Ignatius at No. 2.
On the girls side, it's not so clear cut. Although Davis (Kaysville, Utah) starts No. 1, any team in the preseason Top 10 has a legitimate chance to climb to the top of the rankings during the next three months of high school play.
The preseason SIMA FAB 50, now in its 18th year, was compiled in July, well before most teams assemble for preseason practice. Hundreds of coaches and media members provide information that shape the preseason rankings. Teams are rated based on the expected returning talent. As is common, one or two key players opting out of or returning to high school soccer could drastically change expectations and fortunes of a team. Some teams might have lost key players to transfer or injury prior to the season. In any case, the SIMA FAB 50 preseason rankings serve as a starting point for the high school season and during the course of the year more than 100 teams are likely to cycle in and out of each the boys and girls rankings. Starting this week, preseason hype will be replaced by regular-season results.
The weekly state and region rankings begin Monday, Aug. 22, and the weekly SIMA FAB 50 updates start Tuesday, Aug. 23.
On the boys side, another New Jersey power, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, checks in at No. 3, but the focus this year is strictly on the top two teams, which have distanced themselves from the field in terms of talent. While five St. Benedict's players helped the Cedar Stars Academy to a high finish at the prestigious Dallas Cup, five St. Ignatius players helped the Challenger Crew Juniors to a US Youth Soccer national tournament appearance last month. St. Ignatius has a pair of NCAA Division I commits in Steve Milhoan (Xavier) and Riley Houde (Dayton). St. Benedict's players are often late to commit, as evident by last year's five NCAA Division I signees with three of them happening after signing day. While the core of Cedar Stars players, such as Joe Alba, Mickey George and Louis Silva, provide the senior class experience, several transfers -- both local and international -- help solidify the Gray Bees lineup, which includes the younger brother of a former Brazilian National Team member.
Davis is followed by Northern Highlands (Allendale, N.J.), Brebeuf Jesuit (Indianapolis, Ind.), Colts Neck (N.J.), Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.), Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio), Issaquah (Wash.), [Germantown Houston tn-w] (Germantown, Tenn.), McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.) and Massapequa (N.Y.). Those 10 teams combined to go 200-7-8 last season.
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