I think Sunday’s release of the District One brackets fairly shot some holes in last week’s rankings. That, and a few other factors, ushered in a bit of change for this week. There’s no notebook this week, and the Super 7s won’t run in the paper, but seeing as this is the last chance to throw together a ranking before the All-Delco package, I’m not letting it go by the wayside. (Plus, it’s an excuse to plug the updated stat leaders page.)
So let’s call it the final regular season rankings, shall we.
1. Haverford School (11-3-0) Last Week: No. 1
Let’s put this out there: It’s going to take a hiccup from the Fords or a states run from one of the five teams below them to change this positioning. I’m not sure which of those conditions looks less likely, but I can say that the Fords have won 11 of their last 12 and are outscoring Inter-Ac opponents 17-3 en route to the inside line on a league title.
2. Strath Haven (10-5-1) Last Week: No. 2
The Panthers enter the playoffs winless in their last three, though they’ve taken each game to overtime. For a team with three overtime wins this season, I wouldn’t read too much into the ability to close games as being an issue.
3. Radnor (10-4-3) Last Week: No. 4
The perseverance to recover and win a game against Strath Haven that was tied at 1 in the second half and suspended for two weeks isn’t why the Raiders got into the playoffs. That kind of determination could be why they spring an upset in districts, though. The fact that they’ve won six straight and haven’t lost in October doesn’t hurt either.
4. Ridley (12-4-2) Last Week: No. 3
The seeding committee saw the Green Raiders win total in the light I expected them to, five of them coming against Del Val opposition. That said, I think this team has a lot of what it takes to win in the playoffs. They are gritty, strong up the middle, have good goalkeeping and can finish set pieces. The only question mark, though, is finding consistent finishing.
5. Sun Valley (11-6-0) Last Week: No. 6
I was tempted to move the Vanguards up higher, because I can’t help but be impressed by their run into the playoffs. At 7-5 a few weeks back, they knew they needed to turn things up. They did just that, winning four of the last five, finished with a flourish in the 4-3 overtime win over Downingtown West last week. No matter what a No. 26 seed says, I’d be hesitant to pick against them.
6. Interboro (9-9-0) Last Week: NR
Since the bottom dropped out of the Central League, let’s recognize the Bucs. You can call the tiebreaker that gave them the Districts bid – a better second-half-of-the-league-play record than co-champ Penn Wood – dubious. But the nonleague slate – beating Upper Darby and Marple Newtown, losing by a goal each to Springfield and Ridley – showed a willingness to challenge themselves that could pay off in a daunting districts challenge.
7. Christian Academy (12-1-0) Last Week: NR
Yeah, you can raise your eyebrows at this. But Garnet Valley lost its last four games to end the season, Penncrest its last three. Springfield was under .500, and a four-game winning streak by Upper Darby couldn’t get the Royals over .500. Meanwhile, TCA comes off a 14-day break to win three games in four days (yeah, I know, against not great competition) by a combined score of 15-3. There’s something to be said for taking care of business, and this spot is in recognition of that.
Dropped out: Garnet Valley (7-8-2; Last Week: No. 5); Penncrest (7-10-1; Last Week: No. 7)
Also under consideration: Penn Wood (9-3-0; the co-Del Val champs didn’t put together the same kind of body of work as Interboro); Bonner-Prendergast (6-8-3; it took a lot for the Friars to recover from a five-game losing streak and seven-game winless streak and beat Cardinal O’Hara in the playoff opener last week, but that’s only enough for a spot in the honorable mention section).