For the second year, SOCCER AMERICA Magazine selects the top 20 boys and girls clubs, based on success of their teams in the three national youth competitions over the last three years, with an emphasis on success at the regional and national levels in U.S. Youth Soccer's National Championships, and recognition for players they have sent to national and regional teams in 2004.
California clubs once again dominate the Soccer America Top 20 Girls rankings. The San Diego Surf moves into the No. 1 spot, and seven California teams, up from five in 2004, are represented.
By Paul Kennedy
SAN DIEGO SURF.The Surf has been represented in a U.S. Youth Soccer national championship game (three first-place and two second-place finishes) in each of the last five years. Angie Woznuk and Rachel Buehler were members of the 2002 and 2004 U.S. U-19 World Championship teams. Surf girls and boys have received over $3 million in scholarships over the past four years, according to the club. Rising Star:Ali Hawkins, high school junior who has already committed to North Carolina.
PDA.The New Jersey club has had four teams win U.S. Youth Soccer regional titles in the last two years. The Wildcats have won a pair of national titles: 2002 U-14 Super Y-League and 2003 U-15 USYSA. Its most famous product is Heather O'Reilly, who won an Olympic gold medal last summer. Rising Star:Outside back Tobin Heath, member of U.S. U-16 national team who played in Y-League last summer.
SLAMMERS.The Newport Beach, Calif., club made a name for itself by winning back-to-back USYSA U-14 titles in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, the U-16 Slammers finished second at the National Championships and won the U.S. Club Soccer title. Their best-known player is Alexa Orand, at 17 the youngest player on the 2004 U.S. U-19 World Championship team. Rising Star:Ashley Nick, part of highly rated group headed to USC next fall.
BETHESDA SC.The Maryland club started with three teams in 1979 and now has 40 boys and girls teams. It has won more USYSA regional titles (5) than any girls club in the last three years. Its only U.S. Youth Soccer title remains the Fury's 2001 U-17 championship. Meagan Holmes, part of the great Excel team, was a late addition to the 2004 U.S. U-19 World Championship team. Rising Star:Santa Clara-bound Hayley Siegel, the 2004 Washington Post Prep Player of the Year at Centennial High School.
PLEASANTON RAGE.The club from the Northern California girls hotbed of Alameda County won U.S. Youth Soccer titles in 2002 (U-17) and 2004 (U-19). The Rage is expanding its relationship with U.S. Club Soccer and will enter three teams in the 2005 Super Y-League. Rising Star:Kirstie Kuhns, high school sophomore who plays for the Region IV '89s.
SERENO GOLDEN EAGLES.The Phoenix area club has become a West powerhouse, competing on equal terms with the more established programs from California, Washington and Colorado. Nine Sereno girls teams have reached Region IV finals in the last three years. Rising Star:Midfielder Melissa Hayes, a standout at the first U-17 national camp of the year.
DALLAS TEXANS.The Dallas club has emerged as the club to beat in Texas. In the 2004 Premier League, the Region III West competition that finished in December, Texans teams finished first or second in all five girls divisions and first and second in the U-17 division. Rising Star:Courtney Barg, who plays as a freshman for Plano West, one of the country's top prep programs.
MICHIGAN HAWKS.Part of the Detroit area club that also includes the Wolves, a Top 20 boys club, the Hawks were the only club to produce three U.S. Youth Soccer regional girls champions in 2004. Their most famous alumna is 2004 Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley. Rising Star:Emily Esbrook, who helped Michigan win 2004 Region II '89 ODP title.
ECLIPSE SELECT.Chicago area club gave Illinois its first U.S. Youth Soccer national girls title since 1992 when it won the 2004 U-16 crown. Its U-19s finished third last year. Eclipse teams recently placed first and second at Disney's Soccer Showcase. Rising Star:U.S. U-17 Lauren Switzer, a high school junior who can play on defense and in midfield.
LAGUNA HILLS ECLIPSE.Another national powerhouse from Southern California's Orange County, the Eclipse won the 2002 U.S. Youth Soccer U-15 title. Members of that teams included USC-bound Amy Rodriguez, who started up front for the U.S. at the 2004 Under-19 World Championship. U.S. Olympian Shannon Boxx has recently joined the club as a staff coach. Rising Star:High school junior Michelle Enyeart, one of eight forwards picked to attend first U.S. U-17 camp of the year.
MUSTANG SOCCER.Another club from Northern California's East Bay, it has won titles in U.S. Youth Soccer (2004 U-15s), U.S. Club Soccer (2003 U-14s) and Super Y-League League (2004 U-16s). Mustang teams have won at least one Cal North girls title in 16 of the 17 past years. Former U.S. international John Doyle serves as director of coaching. Rising Star:Heather Vandevanter, high school junior who won adidas Golden Boot as top scorer at 2004 U-15 nationals.
SO CAL UNITED.Already a Soccer America Top 20 boys club, So Cal United breaks in the Soccer America Top 20 for girls. Kristy Walker's U-17s won the 2004 U.S. Youth Soccer title. Rising Star:Forward Kristina Loucks, another player bound for USC in 2005.
CHALLENGE SC.Houston area club had 26 players sign NCAA letters of intent on its 2004 Signing and Appreciation Night, and other seniors signed later. It's won two regional titles in the last three years and had four NSCAA/adidas Girls All-Americans in 2004. Rising Star:Lindsey Lum, high school junior who attended last fall's U-17 national camp.
HBC SOCCER.Founded in 1961, the Long Island club is once again the oldest club to make the Top 20 girls rankings. Its Fury team closed out its run with its sixth straight state and third regional title. Rising Star:Forward Emily Senice, who is playing up two years on U-14 Elite, the 2004 Eastern New York runner-up.
PEACHTREE CITY.The PTC Lazers won their first national title in 2003 when they captured the U-19 title at the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals. They have several teams ranked among the best in South. The U-18 Lazers won last fall's Region III Premier League East Division with an 11-0-0 record. Rising Star:Forward Kelley O'Hara, who impressed at U.S. under-17 national team in January.
GWINNETT SOCCER ASSOCIATION.The GSA Phoenix '85 team advanced to the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals three times in the last four years. It was the first Georgia girls team to win a national title, capturing the 2001 U-16 crown. GSA's U-15s won their 2004 Region III Premier League East Division. Rising Star:Chelsea Catlin, high school freshman who led the U-15s in scoring in Premier League play.
WORLD CLASS SOCCER.The New Jersey team sent three players to Thailand for the 2004 Under-19 World Championship: Yael Averbuch, Nicole Krzysik and Sheree Gray. It won a 2004 U.S. Youth Soccer U-18 regional title after being a regional semifinalist in 2003. Rising Star:Pennsylvania resident Amanda Lebo, who is a midfielder on the U.S. under-17 national team.
SO CAL BLUES.The U-19 team won the 2004 California Premier League title; the U-17 and U-16 teams won League Cup titles last fall. Sixteen Blues players already have gotten commitments from Division I programs for next year. Four Blues alumnae started for UCLA, the 2004 NCAA Division I runner-up. Rising Star:Forward Marihelen Tomer, who survived a severed artery during surgery last spring.
WINDY CITY PRIDE.The Chicago area club enjoyed a big year in 2004. Its U-17s finished second at the U.S. Youth Soccer's National Championships; the U-18s were second in Region II. Rising Star:Brittany Bock, U.S. U-17 national team midfielder who had six goals in the first three games at last summer's National Championships.
COLORADO GIRLS SOCCER ACADEMY.The Denver area club captured its first national title in 2002 when it won the U.S. Youth Soccer U-18 title. Its '89s are a team to watch with one regional and five state titles. Rising Star:Forward Kelly Menachof, a high school junior who stood out at the 2004 ODP Thanksgiving Interregionals.