The top three remain unchanged this week, which should be no surprise, but beneath that, there’s plenty of tumult, thanks to a couple of high risers and a few teams fading off the pace. Here we go (Records based on games reported to the Daily Times through Sept. 30)
1. Strath Haven (8-1-2) Last Week: No. 1
I’m slightly conflicted when it comes time to this Haven team. They are the best team in the county through six weeks. But they aren’t as bulletproof as they have been in recent years, which I guess isn’t a shock. A 0-0 draw with Radnor and the 2-1 double-OT win over Penncrest Tuesday (courtesy of a Meagan Laird goal) should indicate that those teams are viable postseason contenders. But it’s also indicative that this Haven team isn’t head and shoulders above the pack, as it has been in the past.
2. Agnes Irwin (4-1) Last Week: No. 2
It sounds like a slow start doomed the Owls against Germantown Academy Tuesday, which is a significant blow to their championship aspirations. Then again, playing just five games in September might lend itself to sluggish starts. It seems like Kristin Burnetta and Hannah Keating’s production has remained high.
3. Garnet Valley (10-3) Last Week: No. 3
The Jaguars’ roll has hit 10 straight wins, a remarkable recovery from their 0-3 start. They still have some difficult games awaiting them (Conestoga, W.C. East and the Oct. 14 showdown with Strath Haven that could yet decide a Central League title). This is a team that has conceded just two goals over its last seven games while missing center back Jordan Ireland through injury. If they get her back, that defense will be very daunting to break down in the postseason.
4. Penncrest (10-3) Last Week: No. 5
The Lions continue their rise. To be honest, beating Strath Haven wouldn’t have moved them any higher on this list, but taking the Panthers to double overtime is an indication that the Lions are a formidable squad.
5. Haverford (9-5) Last Week: No. 6
The Fords weathered a three-game losing streak with two straight wins to get back on track, including a 1-0 win over Harriton Tuesday. While Strath Haven remains on the schedule, there are some winnable games for the Fords to mount a run at another playoff bid.
6. Episcopal Academy (3-4-1) Last Week: NR
It’s still early in the game for the Churchwomen, but they are off to a flying start in the Inter-Ac at 2-0-1, including a draw with Penn Charter and a win over Notre Dame. The record isn’t all that impressive, but when you consider the strength of schedule (Hill School, Ohio power Strongsville, Archbishop Wood), it’s worth remembering that those early-season stumbles are stomached with an eye toward success in the league.
7. Radnor (5-4-1) Last Week: NR
The record isn’t terribly impressive given the limited schedule, but the Raiders’ ability to stick with Strath Haven and frustrate them for 100 minutes last week in a scoreless draw shows that it’s a team of quality. Beating Springfield 3-1 also indicates the gulf between those two. The challenge now is seeing if the Raiders can uncover enough points to make the postseason.
Honorable Mention: Marple Newtown (7-5-2, the lopsided score against Garnet Valley is somewhat misleading given the absence of starting goalkeeper Amanda Goodyear, who’s since returned. The Tigers are on a three-game winning streak, including claiming a seven-goal thriller with Delco Christian); Delco Christian (7-3-1, the ability to win close games still eludes the Knights: They’ve kept just three clean sheets and are only 1-2 in one-goal games); Springfield (6-6-1, needing overtime to beat Bonner-Prendergast is not something that the Cougars should’ve required, and the loss to Radnor was a big missed opportunity); Notre Dame (4-4-1, the Irish have lost its last four matches, including the first two in the Inter-Ac. It’s also been four games since Phoebe McClernon scored, though she has picked up a number of assists in that span).