These rankings have been sitting on my computer for a day now (as other business has gotten in the way). Considering how long it took for me to make heads or tails of the first three weeks of the season, another day’s wait probably won’t kill anyone. For the boys in particular, there would’ve been rankings last week … you know, if I could figure out just what the heck was going on. Still unsure that I have any better grasp, let’s give it a go anyway. Here are the rankings. (Records based on games reported to the Daily Times through Sept. 15; Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games are not included in the records or the reasoning.)
1. Haverford School (2-1)
It’s the 16th of September and the Fords have played one match this month. On with it already.
2. Radnor (6-2)
There are two reasons why the Raiders get the nod here. First, they have won six straight and haven’t given up a goal since Sept. 2, a span of five straight clean sheets kept by Ben Toomey and a stout defense. Second, they haven’t had the kind of contradictory results that cause me to question just how good they are within the league like, oh, everyone else.
3. Episcopal Academy (5-2-1)
I labored over where to put EA relative to the Central League teams. So I resolved to put them near the top absent a convincing argument to the contrary. They’re winning games and getting quality results, enough to suggest that this high placement is deserved.
4. Springfield (3-3)
The 4-1 win over Strath Haven Sept. 4 was certainly impressive, as was a 1-0 win over Penncrest. So far, Nick Jannelli is stepping up the way many people I’ve talked to thought he could. What doesn’t sit too well in this valuation of Springfield, though, is their nonleague results, a 1-2 record with just a win against Coatesville, and what bearing that has on their eventual playoff prospects under the new playoff system.
5. Strath Haven (4-2-1)
The results of Haven and Springfield are nearly polar opposites. Haven has struggled in the league, dropping contests to the Cougars and Marple Newtown. But they’ve beaten Rustin, Pennsbury and Kennett (a team that Springfield lost to) and drawn Springside Chestnut Hill. That’s a daunting nonleague resume, which is more significant this season given the new points system in which league finish is no longer preserved in seeding.
6. Marple Newtown (4-3)
It’s a good thing that the Tigers beat Strath Haven, meaning that a 10-5 (!!!) game with Chichester is no longer the most significant result on the schedule. In any event, the Tigers have won four of five, including downing (a possibly tired and injury-affected) Haven team last week. The loss in that stretch came to Kennett, an uncannily handy common opponent. The possibility exists that this Marple team is for real and can challenge for districts.
7. Penncrest (4-1)
The Lions started the season 4-0 before dropping a decision last time out to Springfield. Wins over Harriton and Garnet Valley are nice to begin the Central League slate, while Avon Grove stands as a solid nonleague win. This is a team that can climb the ranks if it can avoid the usual Central League pitfalls.
Honorable Mention: Ridley (3-2; a steady supplier of goal is priority No. 1 on this team); Interboro (3-2; Diego Lopez seems to be enjoying high school soccer, and the Bucs are happy to have him); Penn Wood (3-1; boy, when the biggest challenge for the Catholic League contingent is staying within five goals of league opposition, this HM list closes up fast. Oh yeah, and Penn Wood hung tough with Radnor, 2-0, for its only loss, plus scoring a win over Hatboro-Horsham is a nice coup against the Del Val critics.)