NEWS: Perhaps it is no surprise that Wando (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) has emerged as a national power and its 2017 team now sits along side the great Northwestern (Rock Hill, S.C.) team of 2009 as the best South Carolina teams in the past decade.
The years in between were full of transition.
That Northwestern side in 2009 was powered by a national club power in CESA, which won a US Youth Soccer national title later that summer. The following year, high school soccer in South Carolina started to take a knock. As the Development Academy moved toward excluding its players from high school soccer, the emergence of the South Carolina United/Charleston Battery thinned the high school ranks of its elite players. When the Battery opted to leave the D.A. in 2016, it became an immediate plus for the high school game, which benefitted from the return of those players. This year's South Carolina high school state final had the look and feel of a high level club match. Five players from J.L. Mann (Greenville, S.C.) have signed with NCAA Division I teams. Seven of Wando's nine seniors have committed to college programs, as well. This is how elite high school teams in South Carolina looked like in 2009, and before, during the golden age of Irmo (Columbia, S.C.) soccer.
Wando, a school of 4,000 students and able to weather the storm of losing some club players better than others, completed a perfect season late Saturday night with a 1-0 victory over J.L. Mann in the state final, clinching a first-ever SIMA FAB 50 national title.
For the time being, the high school game in South Carolina is as strong as ever, and as long as that's the case, the Wandos and J.L. Manns that follow figure to be in the thick of national title chases.
BIG MOVERS: BOYS: Station Camp (Gallatin, Tenn.). Station Camp is one of several teams to move up four spots this week, but it marks the first time this team has cracked the Top 10. Station Camp's entire lineup is almost completely underclassmen, so they could be a Top 10 fixture for years to come. ... GIRLS: Plymouth (Canton, Mich.). Plymouth's 3-0 win over the previous state No. 1 -ranked team helped Plymouth vault from No. 45 to No. 19 this week.
NEWCOMERS: BOYS: No. 25 Gainesville (Ga.), No. 48 West Anchorage (Anchorage, Alaska) and No. 49 Elkhorn South (Omaha, Neb.). ... GIRLS: No. 25 Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), No. 40 Arrowhead (Hartland, Wis.), No. 41 Grand Blanc (Mich.), No. 42 McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.), No. 43 Broomfield (Colo.), No. 45 Utica Eisenhower (Shelby Township, Mich.), No. 46 West Forsyth (Clemmons, N.C.), No. 49 Broad Run (Ashburn, Va.) and No. 50 Columbia (Ill.).
CLICK BELOW FOR THE COMPLETE SPRING HIGH SCHOOL RANKINGS