Texas shows off its strength in the Top 15
When it comes to national rankings, high school soccer poses a problem unique to the high school sports landscape: there's no particular season.
Depending on the state, soccer could be a fall, winter or spring sport. Therefore, during the course of the school year, ESPN RISE recognizes a FAB 50 for each season. Now that the school year is complete, we are consolidating our three-season FAB 50 polls into one end-of-the-year Super 50.
The following factors, beyond win-loss records, were taken into consideration to identify the Super 50 teams: number of college-bound players, with an emphasis on NCAA Division I signees; number of elite club players; level of competition; level of dominance over competition and historical greatness of that particular team compared to others in the past from same state.
Today, we continue the countdown to our overall No. 1 with teams ranked No. 15 through 11:
15. St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.)
Ranking: Fall No. 7
Notes: New Jersey Prep A State Champion. St. Benedict's won its 20th straight state title. Walter Rodriguez finished with a team-high 17 goals and 10 assists. The squad shut out 16 of 21 opponents with keeper Brandon Paul, a Delaware signee, collecting 14 shutouts in 16 matches. The Gray Bees ranking was tied to the postseason showings of Lower Merion (Pa.) and Don Bosco Prep, a pair of teams St. Benedict's defeated 1-0. Jossimar Sanchez, St. Benedict's top college prospect and a youth national team member, signed with Connecticut. Marc Clinton signed with Providence.
14. Jesuit (Dallas, Texas)
Ranking: Winter No. 7
Notes: Texas 5A Region I runner-up. Jesuit's bid to go coast-to-coast as the winter's No. 1 team ended in a loss to league rival Plano on penalty kicks in the regional final. During the regular season, Jesuit tied and defeated Plano, giving the teams a 1-1-1 head-to-head showing this season. Alexei Reyes, a Dallas area Player of the Year candidate, signed with Florida Gulf Coast. Nate Dombrowski signed with Dayton and Ryan Morales signed with American University.
13. Plano (Plano, Texas)
Ranking: Winter No. 6
Notes: Texas 5A State Champion. After finishing behind Jesuit in district play, Plano edged Jesuit in PKs in the region final and strolled to a state title with a 3-0 victory over Katy and 3-1 win over Lopez. It marked the program's sixth state title since 1991. Duke signee Ryan Brown was the tournament MVP. Plano started the year ranked No. 2 in the FAB 50 behind Jesuit. Dillon Powers, who signed with Notre Dame, was named the Texas Player of the Year, the Gatorade National Player of the Year and was selected to both the ESPNRISE.com Winter All-America and EA Sports National All-America teams.
12. Rancocas Valley (Mount Holly, N.J.)
Ranking: Fall No. 6
Notes: New Jersey Group 3 State Champion. Ryan Finley, a U.S. under-18 national team member, scored both goals for Rancocas Valley, as it defeated Clifton for the state title. During the regular season, Rancocas Valley defeated St. Benedict's. Finley signed with Duke. Teammate Blake Fink, the team's top scorer, signed with Lafayette College.
11. El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.)
Ranking: Winter No. 5
Notes: Southern California Regional Division I semifinalist. CIF-Southern Section Division I Champion. El Toro's bid for a national title ended with a 2-0 loss to El Camino Real in the SCR semifinals. El Toro won the Southern Section title over Millikan. El Toro was led by senior Jacob Kaiser, who was named the Orange County Register and CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year.
Ranking: Fall No. 6
Notes: Utah Class 5A State Champion. Junior All-America candidate Kealia Ohai scored both goals for Alta, as it defeated Brighton 2-0 in the final, after Alta and Brighton split their regular-season meetings. Alta also posted a victory over FAB 50-ranked Montgomery (Calif.). Ohai signed with defending national champion North Carolina. Her older sister plays for and won a national title at Southern Cal.
14. Coppell (Coppell, Texas)
Ranking: Winter No. 4
Notes: Texas 5A State Champion. Alyssa Diggs scored the match-winning goal, as Coppell finally put away The Woodlands 3-2 in the state final. In the semifinals, Coppell edged Reagan 1-0 in overtime on a Diggs' goal. During the regular season, Coppell lost to Ursuline Academy. With Coppell's underclassmen-dominated squad, it is likely the Cowgirls will start the 2009-2010 season as the FAB 50 No. 1 team.
13. Ursuline Academy (Dallas, Texas)
Ranking: Winter No. 3
Notes: TAPPS Division I State Champion. Texas signee Sophie Campise scored both goals, as Ursuline defeated rival Nolan Catholic 2-1 to secure the program's 19th straight TAPPS title. The victory also atones for a pair of Ursuline losses to Nolan Catholic during regular-season play. Campise signed with the University of Texas. Alina Garciamendez, who played for the Mexican under-20 national team, was the Dallas area Player of the Year, and she has signed with Stanford.
12. San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.)
Ranking: Winter No. 2
Notes: Southern California Regional Division I Champion. CIF-Southern Section Division I Champion. Alexis Mahoney scored two goals, but it was Barret Bestard's rebound shot that lifted the Tritons to a 3-2 victory over Buchanan for the region tile. In the semifinals, San Clemente defeated Los Alamitos, the same squad it defeated for the CIF-Southern Section crown. Senior defender Zoe Jeffers, a Santa Clara signee, and sophomore midfielder Frannie Coxe were named All-Southern Section Division I first-team players.
11. Portage Central (Portage, Mich.)
Ranking: Spring No. 5
Notes: Michigan Division 1 State Champion. Shannon Bennett's overtime header goal lifted Portage Central to a 3-2 victory over Eisenhower for the state title. Paige Wester, the Michigan's Player of the Year, and Lauren Brown scored the first two goals for Portage Central. Portage Central had only two seniors in the starting lineup, and the team is expected to return underclassmen who scored 109 of the team's 124 goals in 2009.
Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com .
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