It’s time for the first girls’ high school ranking of 2014. The majority of the Top 20 are still in pre-season, but the California teams are already in full swing, and a handful of cold-weather states contested their championships in the fall.
Among them is the perennial Wisconsin State Champion, Divine Savior Holy Angels, which took home the fall title with a 22-7 win over Catholic Memorial. That game was tied at 7-all at half, but veteran leadership from players like Maggie Brennan and Elizabeth Pokorny helped the Dashers to pull through in the second stanza. DSHA also has an impressive roster – more than 50 are currently CIPPed.
Similarly, Summit took home another Colorado State Championship last fall, this time beating Ft. Collins 53-0 in the final. The Tigers returned one High School All American to the field, Lily Weldon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Summit will be attending this year’s National Invitational Tournament (May 17-18) in Pittsfield, Mass. In 2013, the Tigers finished sixth.
California is a few weeks into its season, and the story thus far has been Pleasanton’s emergence onto the rankings. Now 3-0, the Cavaliers’ first true test came against Danville last Friday, and the three-year-old team defeated its local rival 15-10. Danville, which is only in its second year of existence, finished 7th at last year’s nationals. Pleasanton’s next battle will occur against Bishop O’Dowd, which is arguably the fourth-best team in NorCal, and we’ll be keeping an eye on its progress.
But we think 2014 is going to be the Sacramento Amazons’ year in Northern California. The team has been rebuilding the last couple of years and has banked some important experience.
“We returned all but two players from last year,” Sacramento coach Sefesi Green said of the team that finished fifth at nationals. “We had a great off-season with 12 girls participating in the NorCal All Stars and taking the NorCal 7s series. We recruited well and have 33 players on roster this season. NorCal as whole is looking good, improving with every year.
“I feel like we have some good depth and experience this season,” Green added. “The girls have been hungry since returning from Nationals last May. I think we will improve on our fifth place finish this year.”
No surprises in Southern California, where Fallbrook is the undisputed leader, and D2 champ Fullerton will be the Warriors’ best competition of the regular season. Fallbrook lost Megan Pinson and Irayda Macedo to graduation, but well-knowns like Kasey Carl, Johni Durbin and Richelle Stephens are more than able to fill the void. But it’s the “who’s next” that is always the fun question to ask of Fallbrook. Last year, Kayla Canett, Lily Durbin and Sarah Workman established themselves as the underclassmen to watch, and hopefully 2014 unveils just as exciting talent.
All of the other teams are in pre-season presently. The Pacific Northwest gets rolling this weekend, and all eyes will be on Kent. The Crusaders lost two of the most prolific high school players last year – Cassidy Meyers and Asinate Serevi – so we’ll see how long the Washington team can hold onto that #2 spot. Tennessee also gets started this Friday, as the reigning state champ, Ravenwood, takes on Riverdale. Rival Maryville will get to work on Saturday, and we expect their paths to converge at the state championships again. Same with Utah rivals Lowland and Snow Canyon, which have advanced to the previous three state finals together – although all have gone to Lowland.
When Pennsylvania gets up and moving, we expect Downingtown to be the strongest. The squad has good experience returning and strong numbers. Hempfield is right behind them, and if State College can keep its numbers up, then we’ll keep them on the watch list. Same goes for many East Coast teams that haven’t made an impact nationally, yet. State champs like Kingston (N.Y.), Fairfax Police (Va.), Cheshire (Conn.), Algonquin (Mass.) and Morris (N.J.) – they all deserve to be tracked. Obviously, it would be great if these teams/regions attended the NIT, so there was some real perspective on their relative strengths.
Finally, the one team we’re eager to see back on the pitch is Lakewood. We strongly suspect that they’re better than their #19 ranking, but with a new coach after a disaster spring, the former national finalist has been rebuilding in more ways than one. That said, the Ohio powerhouse has already confirmed its participation at the NIT.
We’ll update our rankings every two weeks, so stay tuned for updates.
Girls' High School Top 25 - Feb. 26, 2014
1. Fallbrook (Calif.) 1-0 in SoCal, 40-0 forfeit win over Dead Rabbits; three-time national champion
2. Kent (Wash.) Idle. Washington State Champion's season starts March 2
3. Divine Savior Holy Angels (Wisc.) Won Wisconsin State Championship 22-7 over Catholic Memorial
4. Sacramento (Calif.) 1-0 in NorCal, defeated the Lancers 50-10
5. Catholic Memorial (Wisc.) Finished second in Wisconsin, lost 22-7 to DSHA
6. Summit (Colo.) Won Colorado State Championship 53-0 over Ft. Collins
7. West Carroll (Md.) Idle.
8. Fullerton (Calif.) 1-0 in SoCal, 53-19 win over Dead Rabbits
9. Armstrong (Minn.) Idle. Reigning Minnesota State Champion's season begins in April
10. Pleasanton (Calif.) 3-0 in NorCal, defeated Danville 15-10
11. Danville (Calif.) 0-1 in NorCal, lost 15-10 to Pleasanton
12. Lowland (Utah) Idle. Three-time reigning Utah State Champion
13. Snow Canyon (Utah) Idle. Three-time reigning Utah State finalist; finished 3rd in D2 at NITs
14. Downingtown (Pa.) Idle. Pennsylvania State Champion's season begins March 30.
15. St. Joseph's (Ohio) Idle. Reigning State Champions
16. Grant (Ore.) Idle. Reigning Oregon State Champion's season starts with a pre-season tournament on March 1; was runner-up in fall 7s season
17. Ravenwood (Tenn.) Idle. Reigning Tennessee State Champion's season starts Feb. 28
18. Maryville (Tenn.) Idle. Tennessee State finalist and 7s champion's season starts March 1.
19. Lakewood (Ohio) Idle.
20. Hempfield (Pa.) Idle. Second-best in state.
21. ICEF (Calif.) 2-0 is SoCal
22. Fairfax Police (Va.) Idle. Four Virginia State titles
23. Kingston (N.Y.) Idle. Reigning New York State champ
24. Sebastian River (Fla.) Idle. Big fish in a small lagoon
25. West End (Va.) Won first pre-season game