You may have seen the Super 7s we ran with the soccer previews a couple of weeks back. Let’s not kid ourselves, that was just conjecture and projection. Now that we’ve got a few games under our belts, let’s see if we can put together a real ranking of Delco’s best and sort out just what is going on with some of these teams. Here goes:
(records through Sept. 15)
1. Strath Haven (2-1)
The Panthers haven’t challenged themselves outside of the league to the degree as in past seasons, and their loss – at West Chester Rustin Sept. 7 – is remarkable given their success a season ago. I have to think, though, that Haven is the county’s top team until it is knocked off its perch. They are still sorting through some personnel and injury issues, such as who’ll provide a constant supply of goals, but you get the feeling they’ll figure that out in due time.
2. Episcopal Academy (4-2)
EA, meanwhile, has challenged itself against prep schools up and down the East Coast. Their two losses have each been by one-goal margins, to a Conestoga team likely among the best in the Central and to Archbishop Wood, which could be the class of the Catholic League. They are getting goals early on from not just Leah Becker and All-Delco Meredith Manley, but also the likes of Emma Brumbaugh and Tara Boyle, which bodes well moving forward.
3. Garnet Valley (2-3)
I feel pretty good about the first two picks, then there’s a bit of a gulf as to what comes next. You can look at records, but I’m erring on the side of strength of schedule, and I think that points to the Jags. They lost by one goal to Strath Haven in a game that came too early in the season for my liking. Their other losses are to Unionville and Pennsbury. The downed Avon Grove, 3-1, the same Avon Grove that beat Penncrest, 4-1. And they topped Henderson. They’ve settled their goalkeeping situation thanks to Alex Bufano, and while a predominant goalscorer has yet to emerge, they’ve had four girls find the score sheet.
4. Agnes Irwin (3-1)
I’m intrigued by the Owls, enough to give them the nod here with a bit of caution. Their wins haven’t exactly come against A-list programs – no offense to small schools like Germantown Friends, Friends Central and Delco Christian. But they’ve scored 12 goals in four matches, led by the dynamic Kristin Burnetta, Hannah Keating and surprising freshman contributor Annie McConnon. They’ve done it all with Julie Fryer in goal in place of Autumn Wedderburn. This team will be tested when the schedule kicks up, but for now, they’ve done enough to earn this place.
5. Notre Dame (4-0)
Speaking of impressive starts, Notre Dame has scored 29 goals in four matches. I’d be willing to bet over half of the Central League doesn’t score that many all season. And it’s not like they’re putting up these numbers against schools you’ve never heard of; they’ve beaten Lower Merion, Bonner-Prendergast, Archbishop Carroll and Ridley. Though that I think the latter three could have rough seasons, the scores are still alarmingly lopsided. For the Irish to make this ranking stick, they’ve going to have to show an ability to win close games against quality opposition, but it appears the promise of that happening is in place.
6. Haverford (4-1)
Back to the Central League, where the Fords find themselves in the conversation of the second echelon. Their only loss came to EA opening day by a 2-0 margin. They’ve beaten Cardinal O’Hara and Merion Mercy by 2-0 decisions. It seems the Fords know who they are: They have allowed just two goals all season and have showed a proficiency in winning close games, aided by the rock-steadiness of Kelly Rogers in goal.
7. Penncrest (5-1)
I’ll give the Lions the benefit of the doubt here. Their record is good; their offensive production (16 goals in six games) is impressive. They beat Marple Newtown and Henderson while routing Kennett, so the number of quality wins may not be astronomical. They are a talented team, though, whose attack is multifaceted, which could propel them into the districts picture.
Also under consideration: Cardinal O’Hara (3-3; Jess DiGiacomo’s winner against Conwell-Egan bodes well for the Lions, as she’s a player they’re going to need to get rolling offensively); Radnor (0-3-1; I have to think the Raiders are better than the record through a difficult stretch of games indicates); Springfield (1-1-1; there’s just not a large enough body of work to evaluate the Cougars yet, though a draw with Great Valley and staying within one goal of Harriton bodes well).