Commentary

SoCal teams are the class of winter soccer

Updated: December 2, 2008, 4:21 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

ESPN will release the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national girls' soccer winter rankings each week of the regular season and playoffs, continuing through the final games of the various state playoffs around the nation.

The FAB 50 national crown might be settled in Southern California this winter.

The top four teams and six of the Top 10 in the preseason FAB 50 hail from Southern California, and all six will be vying for one Southern Region championship.

In a close call for No. 1, Esperanza gets the nod over San Clemente, although it matters little since the teams will settle the issue on the field in December.

The lone non-California team in the Top 5 is Flower Mound Marcus, a perennial Texas 5A state title challenger.

ESPN RISE FAB 50 WINTER GIRLS' SOCCER RANKINGS: WEEK 1 - PRESEASON (Nos. 1-25)
Rank School (City, State) Record Previous Rank Notes
1 Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Tennessee commit Kylie Bono and Southern Cal commit Courtney Garcia return for what should be a loaded Esperanza lineup.
2 San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Kelcy Wilson, Cami Berg, and Greer Zerboni, who all were CIF All-Section honorees, return for San Clemente, which finished No. 6 in last year's FAB 50.
3 Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Aliso Niguel, No. 7 in last year's final FAB 50, must replace a pair of forwards to stay highly competitive, but the defense is solid with three returning All-CIF performers.
4 Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Kate Cutting, Annie Heaton, and Alexandra Bailey return for Torrey Pines, which figures on another run at a FAB 50 nation title. Last year's team was No. 1 until an upset loss in the Southern Regional. Cutting was the league's player of the year.
5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) 0-0-0 NR Jazmin Hall, keeper Danielle Presley, and Madison Whitehead are expected to return for perennial state power Marcus.
6 Plano West (Plano, Texas) 0-0-0 NR If all the club players return, as is rumored, Plano West will be a serious state title challenger. The team is built around a strong underclass, which includes Kristen Barg, Whitney Jaynes, and Victoria Hoffman.
7 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Mary-Grace Schmidt and keeper Darien Vercillo are expected back for this perennial CIF-SS Division I power. Mater Dei finished No. 8 in the FAB 50 last year.
8 Foothill (Pleasanton, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Foothill, the CIF-North Coast runner-up last year, returns almost its entire starting lineup led by Santa Clara commit Olivia Klei.
9 George Jenkins (Lakeland, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR George Jenkins was the surprise of Florida last year after winning the 5A state crown, finishing 29-0-2 and earning the No. 2 spot in the FAB 50. This year's team, which is led by Florida commit Kayla Bala, will not sneak up on anyone.
10 Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Wilson's storied run to FAB 50 No. 1 last year was led by a trio of seniors. This year's team will be built around defense, anchored by Kellie Culbertson.
11 Xavier College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) 0-0-0 NR The preseason No. 1 team in Arizona could compete for national Top 10 honors again this season. Until an upset playoff loss, Xavier was poised for a national Top 5 finish last year.
12 San Ramon Valley (Danville, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR The core players that led San Ramon Valley to the North Coast Section title and a No. 11 final FAB 50 ranking are back this season.
13 The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas) 0-0-0 NR This Houston-area squad begins the year ranked No.1 in Texas by the coaches. The team is led by a trio of returning all-state picks in Kelsey Missimer, Kylie Cook, and Olivia Kintigh.
14 Coppell (Coppell, Texas) 0-0-0 NR Sophomore sensation Chioma Ubogagu and junior Katie Bass lead Coppell, which must replace a pair of all-region performers.
15 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Cathedral Catholic had seven Division I signees last year. The four-time defending section champs will turn to senior Eileen Purner, the only returning All-Section performer.
16 Castro Valley (Castro Valley, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Castro Valley features a talented junior class, and the team should factor in the CIF-North Coast title chase along with Foothill, San Ramon Valley, and Monte Vista.
17 Nolan Catholic (Fort Worth, Texas) 0-0- NR Could this be the year? Ursuline is the 18-time defending TAPPS state champion, but this could be the year Nolan, a perennial runner-up, emerges. The team is led by Mallory Baum.
18 Ursuline Academy (Dallas, Texas) 0-0-0 NR Seniors Sophie Campise and Alina Garciamendez, two of the state's top prospects, give Ursuline a talented midfield.
19 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR Aquinas was roughed up at the Nolan Showcase last winter, but this year's squad appears much improved and should be solid defensively with its entire defense returning.
20 Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR FIU commit Jasmine Aleman highlights a talented Cypress Bay lineup. Matches with area power St. Thomas Aquinas will help determine this team's national standing.
21 Monte Vista (Danville, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Monte Vista graduated nine Division I signees last year, but the squad still draws heavily from a talented Mustang club program.
22 Los Alamitos (Los Alamitos, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR Los Alamitos may turn to a sophomore Shannelle Simien to lead the attack.
23 American Heritage (Delray, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR American Heritage posted a nation-high 31 wins last winter, and this year's team will face a stronger schedule, which could determine its national ranking.
24 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR This defensive-minded team figures to be stronger offensively this year. League matches with Mater Dei will help sort the Eagles place in the national rankings.
25 Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) 0-0-0 NR Caitlin Schneider, who set a state record with 24 shutouts, is among seven returning starters for the defending state champs.

ESPN RISE FAB 50 WINTER GIRLS' SOCCER RANKINGS: WEEK 1-PRESEASON (Nos. 26-50)
Rank School (City, State) Record Previous Rank
26 Allen (Allen, Texas) 0-0-0 NR
27 Kamehameha (Honolulu, Hawaii) 0-0-0 NR
28 Oviedo (Oviedo, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR
29 Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
30 Wellington (Wellington, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR
31 Carondelet (Concord, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
32 La Jolla (La Jolla, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
33 Thousand Oaks (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
34 Lake Mary (Lake Mary, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR
35 Fontainebleau (Mandeville, La.) 0-0-0 NR
36 Melbourne (Melbourne, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR
37 La Mirada (La Mirada, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
38 Santiago (Corona, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
39 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
40 Gilbert (Gilbert, Ariz.) 0-0-0 NR
41 Madison Central (Madison, Miss.) 0-0-0 NR
42 Poway (Poway, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
43 El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR
44 Satellite (Satellite Beach, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR
45 Tampa Prep (Tampa, Fla.) 0-0-0 NR
46 Deer Park (Deer Park, Texas) 0-0-0 NR
47 McKinney Boyd (McKinney, Texas) 0-0-0 NR
48 Plano East (Plano, Texas) 0-0-0 NR
49 Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii) 0-0-0 NR
50 Northwood (Irvine, Calif.) 0-0-0 NR