Perfect start keeps Esperanza on top

Updated: December 17, 2008, 4:52 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer |

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.

Although there has been a few weeks between the initial girls' rankings, very little has changed among the Top 10.

Esperanza started No. 1 in the FAB 50, but No. 2 locally. A perfect start now has this CIF-Southern Section challenger a unanimous No. 1 both locally and nationally.

Aliso Niguel moves into the No. 2 spot despite not making it through to the semifinals of its own tournament. A group-play draw kept the team out of the running.

This is the time of year when the California programs have played their way into a fair ranking order while the Texas teams, which have yet to start, slowly climb in the rankings by virtue of being undefeated (although, of course, untested). Marcus and Plano West inch higher into the Nos. 3 and 4 spots this week. By mid-January, the issue of 0-0-0 teams in the Top 10 will be settled thanks to two major tournaments.

Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) is the big mover in this week's rankings, jumping to No. 18 following wins over Cypress Bay and Gulliver Prep. Gibbons has always played second-fiddle to Aquinas in local soccer circles, but no more. The team's perfect start has it heading toward a national Top 10 ranking.

Rank School (City, State) Record Previous Rank Notes
1 Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) 6-0-0 1 Esperanza's No. 1 ranking will be put to the test with a clash this week with No. 6 Long Beach Wilson. Kylie Bono and Courtney Garcia have combined for nine goals through the team's first six matches.
2 Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) 6-0-1 3 Aliso is ranked No. 2 in the Orange County Register, behind Esperanza. Aliso is undefeated, but a draw in its tournament prevented the team from advancing to the semifinals.
3 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) 0-0-0 5 Marcus starts regular season play in January.
4 Plano West (Plano, Texas) 0-0-0 6 Plano West starts regular season play in January.
5 Foothill (Pleasanton, Calif.) 3-0-0 8 Foothill, led by Olivia Klei, already has quality wins over California and Monte Vista.
6 Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.) 4-0-0 10 Wilson has shut out all four opponents as it enters the Aliso Niguel Tournament final against No. 1 Esperanza.
7 George Jenkins (Lakeland, Fla.) 11-0-1 9 Kayla Bala and George Jenkins has run its undefeated streak to 41 matches as it looks to repeat as state champion.
8 Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.) 4-0-1 4 A draw with Bishops' School results in a slight drop in this week's rankings for perennial San Diego power Torrey Pines.
9 San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.) 6-1-0 2 San Clemente was an upset loser to Huntington Beach last week after pinning the only losses on FAB 50-ranked Cathedral Catholic and state-ranked Westview.
10 San Ramon Valley (Danville, Calif.) 2-0-0 12 San Ramon Valley is ranked No. 2 locally behind Foothill. This week's Tri-Valley Classic figures to shake up the NorCal rankings.
11 The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas) 0-0-0 13 The Woodlands starts regular season play in January.
12 Nolan Catholic (Fort Worth, Texas) 11-0-0 17 Nolan Catholic has a pair of one-goal victories over 18-time defending TAPPS state champion Ursuline Academy.
13 Castro Valley (Castro Valley, Calif.) 6-0-0 16 Castro Valley has lived up to the hype with a perfect start. The team faces Monte Vista in this week's Tri-Valley Classic.
14 Coppell (Coppell, Texas) 0-0-0 14 Coppell starts regular season play in January.
15 Melbourne (Melbourne, Fla.) 15-0-0 36 Melbourne's perfect start has this team in the Top 15 for the first time ever.
16 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 4-0-3 7 Mater Dei will be a key player in the national title chase thanks to a schedule that could have this program facing the top teams from CIF-Southern Section Division I down to the San Diego Division I teams.
17 Thousand Oaks (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) 3-0-0 33 Thousand Oaks makes a major jump in this week's FAB 50 behind a perfect start. Taylor Demirijian has emerged as the team's top goal scorer.
18 Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 15-0-0 NR Gibbons has pinned defeats on perennial local powers Gulliver Prep and Cypress Bay.
19 Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) 0-0-0 25 Southlake Carroll starts regular season play in January.
20 Los Alamitos (Los Alamitos, Calif.) 3-1-1 22 Los Al's lone defeat was in the Aliso Tournament to FAB 50 No. 1 Esperanza.
21 Carondelet (Concord, Calif.) 2-0-0 31 Carondelet started the season with a pair of shutout victories.
22 Allen (Allen, Texas) 0-0-0 26 Allen starts regular season play in January.
23 Oviedo (Oviedo, Fla.) 9-0-1 28 Oviedo's lone blemish is a draw last week with perennial 6A title contender Lake Mary. Oviedo defeated Lake Mary earlier in the season.
24 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.) 2-1-2 15 Cathedral Catholic's loss was to San Clemente.
25 Ursuline Academy (Dallas, Texas) 9-2-0 18 Ursuline Academy's lone losses are a pair of one-goal setbacks to FAB 50 No. 12 Nolan Catholic.

Rank School (City, State) Record Previous Rank
26 Wellington (Wellington, Fla.) 11-1-1 30
27 Gilbert (Gilbert, Ariz.) 3-0-0 40
28 Kamehameha (Honolulu, Hawaii) 2-0-1 27
29 Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii) 3-0-1 49
30 El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.) 4-1-1 43
31 Canyon (Anaheim, Calif.) 7-0-0 NR
32 Tesoro (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) 1-0-3 NR
33 Tampa Prep (Tampa, Fla.) 11-0-1 45
34 Newman (New Orleans, La.) 8-0-0 NR
35 Dear Park (Dear Park, Texas) 0-0-0 46
36 Gulliver Prep (Miami, Fla.) 13-2-0 NR
37 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 11-1-0 19
38 University (Palm Harbor, Fla.) 12-0-0 NR
39 Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) 2-0-0 NR
40 St. John's Country Day (Orange Park, Fla.) 10-0-1 NR
41 Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 3-1-2 NR
42 Buchanan (Fresno, Calif.) 10-0-1 NR
43 Satellite (Satellite Beach, Fla.) 10-1-1 44
44 Madison Central (Madison, Miss.) 8-0-0 41
45 Woodbridge (Irvine, Calif.) 7-1-1 NR
46 St. Ignatius (San Francisco, Calif.) 4-0-0 NR
47 McKinney Boyd (McKinney, Texas) 0-0-0 47
48 Plano East (Plano, Texas) 0-0-0 48
49 Clovis (Fresno, Calif.) 8-0-2 NR
50 Flowing Wells (Tucson, Ariz.) 3-0-0 NR