BEST YOUTH CLUBS: 2007 Soccer America Top 20 Girls Clubs

Thanks to a record-setting 2006 season, the Eclipse Select emerged as the top team in the Soccer America Top 20 girls rankings, taking over the top spot from the Dallas Texans.

2007 Soccer AmericaÆs Top 20 Girls Clubs
1 Eclipse Select (Ill.)
2 Dallas Texans (Texas)
3 PDA (N.J.)
4 Michigan Hawks (Mich.)
5 Slammers FC (Calif.)
6 Colorado Rush (Colo.)
7 Mustang Soccer (Calif.)
8 St. Louis SC (Mo.)
9 Edmond SC (Okla.)
10 So Cal Bluesá (Calif.)
11 Real Colorado (Colo.)
12 Freestate SA (Md.)
13 Bethesda SC (Md.)
14 Real So Calá (Calif.)
15 San Diego Surfá (Calif.)
16 Eagles SCá (Calif.)
17 Pleasanton Rageá (Calif.)
18 World Class (N.J.)
19 Laguna Hills Eclipseá (Calif.)
20 Irvine Strikers SCá (Calif.)
Soccer America selects the top 20 clubs, based on success of their teams in national youth championships over the last three years and national recognition for players (including U.S. national youth team selection) from these clubs in 2006.

ECLIPSE SELECT. The Chicago area club moved into the top spot on the strength of an impressive run in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships. Four Eclipse teams won regional titles. The U-17s and U-15s returned home with national championships. The U-19s finished second, and the U-18s lost out on a berth in their divisionÆs final when they fell in a shootout. Eclipse alums include 2006 Freshman of the Year Michele Weissenhofer from Notre Dame. Rising Star: Sophomore Brianne Rodriguez, one of the countryÆs top young setup players.

DALLAS TEXANS. Like the Texans boys, the girls rank second in the nation. In 2006, the U-18 Texans Red North won a USYS national championship, and two other Texans girls team finished third at the nationals in Iowa. The Texans will be strong again in 2007. The U-18s and U-17s won their Showcase divisions at the DisneyÆs Soccer Showcase, and they along with the U-16s and U-14s won Region III Premier League titles. Rising Star: Defender Alina Garciamendez played for the U.S. U-15s at the
Nike Friendlies.

PDA. The New Jersey club has dominated the Region I championships, winning nine championships over the last three years. A team to watch is the U-15 Fire, winner of its Showcase division at JanuaryÆs DisneyÆs Soccer Showcase. PDA produced quite a 1-2 punch in WomenÆs College Player of the Year Heather OÆReilly and All-Freshman pick Tobin Heath, who helped North Carolina win the 2006 NCAA Division I title. Rising Star: Pennsylvanian Shannon Roche, who attended last yearÆs U-14 national team girls megacamp.

MICHIGAN HAWKS. The Hawks team up with the WolvesÆ boys program to form one of the MidwestÆs best clubs. Six gold stars appear within the Wolves-Hawks crest; each star represents one of the USYS National Championships ù including four girls titles, the most recent in 2004. At last fallÆs Michigan state championships, the Hawks won four age groups and finished second in the other two. Rising Stars: Defender Victoria Bailey and forward Kelsey Kassab were both called into under-15 national team camps.

SLAMMERS FC. Once again, the Newport Beach club is the top ranked club from the girls soccer hotbed of Southern California. The Slammers won the U-16 Super Group at U.S. Club SoccerÆs 2006 National Cup V Championships, giving them seven national titles over the last five years and U.S. Club Soccer championships in each of the last three seasons. In January, four Slammers were called into the U-17 national team camp. Rising Star: U-17 selection Charney Burke scored in the U-16 SlammersÆ Super Group championship victory.

COLORADO RUSH. Any doubt about the RushÆs strength was put to rest last summer when it won the U-19 division at the U.S. Youth Soccer Championships ù its first title in five years after winning six championship in 1998-2001. Rush products Ameera Abdullah (Florida) and Jordan Angeli (Santa Clara) got called into the first womenÆs U-21 camp of 2007. A team to watch is the RushÆs U-17 squad, winner of six state titles in seven years. Rising Star: Danielle Foxhoven represented the U.S. U-17s at the first WomenÆs Nike Friendlies.
MUSTANG SOCCER. Mustang won a USYS national championship in 2004 and has arguably the best early-teen program in girls soccer-crazy Northern California. The U-12 and U-13 girls teams fell in the 2006 Region IV finals on penalty kicks. The programÆs director is former U.S. international John Doyle. It includes 5,000 players. It has been developing the Tassajara Soccer Complex, a $4.5 million complex and community center. Rising Stars: Alexandra Conti and Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, who attended the Æ06 U-14 Identification Camp.

ST. LOUIS SC. The former Busch Soccer Club has a long-established reputation as one of the best boys and girls clubs in the country. Its most recent youth title came in 2005 when the U-15 girls were crowned USYS national teams. In 2006, Gary MillerÆs team lost on penalty kicks in the U-16 regional final. Last fall, it won the U-17 state title, one of four crowns captured by St. Louis SC teams. The club is directed by former NASL and MISL player Steve Pecher. Rising Star: Maggi?Kistner scored for the U.S. U-16s against Germany in March 2006.

EDMOND SC. The Oklahoma club moved into the Top 20 at No. 19 last year and climbs 10 spots this year on the strength of its third straight appearance in a USYS National Championship final ù and the second appearance in three years for Jimmy HamptonÆs ESC æ90 Black. HamptonÆs ESC æ91 Black team fell in the final of the 2005 U-14 division. Between them, the æ90 and æ91 Edmond teams have captured 11 state championships. Rising Star: Calli Cooper attended the 2006 ODP Thanksgiving Interregional æ91 Girls Camp.

SO CAL BLUES. The pioneering girls club won its second USYS national title in 2005, capturing the U-14 championship. The Blues started out in 1990 when Larry Draluck began working with a group of girls from South Orange County (San Juan Capistrano). Those girls were to form the foundation of the first Blues youth teams. Tab Bobak, a Southern California youth coaching legend, joined the program soon thereafter. Rising Star: Elizabeth Eddy made the Region Æ92 team that traveled to Florida for the Interregionals.

REAL COLORADO. Jamaican Lorne Donaldson, a former A-League head coach and MLS assistant coach, has built Real Colorado into a national power. It was the only team to win all four games at the 2006 USYA National Championships, capturing the U-16 Masotto Cup. Real has had 17 seniors verbally commit to D1 colleges. In 2007, Real Colorado will move its tournaments to DickÆs Sporting Goods Park, the new home of MLSÆs Colorado Rapids. Rising Star: Jennifer Kmezich won the adidas Golden Boot at the U-16

FREESTATE SA. The Freestate Shooters, part of MarylandÆs Freestate Soccer Association, boast one of the greatest collections of talent in girls soccer today. The Shooters, state champions in 2004 and runners-up in 2005 and 2006, feature three U.S. under-17 national team players. Goalie Yewande Balogun, defender Julia Bouchelle and midfielder Christine Nairn all represented the USA at the 2006 Nike WomenÆs Friendlies. Rising Star: Shooter Tiffany McCarty is a member of the U.S. U-16 national team player pool.

BETHESDA SC. The Maryland club has been a steady producer of national talent for many years. After sending at least one team to the USYSA National Championships for the last five years, Bethesda ran into bad luck at the 2006 Region I championships. Three Bethesda teams ù the U-19 Excel, U-16 Rapids and U-15 Blast ù reached the finals, where they all lost by one-goal margins. Rising Star: Chante Sandiford of the Rapids represented Region I at last fallÆs ODP Thanksgiving Interregionals.

REAL SO CAL. No other Southern California club has teams ranked as high in both the Boys and Girls Top 20s. Real So Cal won the 2004 U-18 USYS national championship as So Cal United. RSC ranked No. 1 in the Super Y-LeagueÆs Girls First XI ahead of the Chicago Magic after claiming the U-15 girls title at the North American Championship. The boys and girls programs have sent more than 170 players on to Division I colleges. Rising Star: Caitlin Blosser was U-15 Girls MVP at the Super Y-League North American Finals.

SAN DIEGO SURF. The SurfÆs string of six straight seasons with at least one team in the USYS National Championships ended in 2006, but it came close. The U-17s and U-16s both lost in the Region IV finals by 1-0 scores. The SurfÆs U-18s also were state championships in 2006. The Surf is an institution on the national youth scene, organizing the Surf Cup and Surf Girls Cup, two of the most important girls tournaments. Rising Star: Elle Magrassia, who scored a great overtime goal in the Cal South U-16 State Cup final against the Eagles.

EAGLES SC. The Ventura County (Calif.) program makes its debut in the Girls Top 20. Coach Vince Thomas led the Eagles to the 2004 U-14 USYS national championship. The Eagles have 16 seniors headed off to Division I womenÆs programs next fall, including Nicole Sweetman, who will play for perennial WomenÆs College Cup finalist UCLA. They also have a flourishing boys program that competes in the Coast Soccer League. Rising Star: Bianca Burright, who made the U.S. U-15 girls national team in 2006.

PLEASANTON RAGE. The Rage is another Northern California powerhouse, which produced one of the great teams of the last decade. It won the U-17 national championship in 2002 and the U-19 championship in 2004. The RageÆs best finish in 2006 was the U-15sÆ second-place finish at the Region IV championships. Rising Stars: Madeline Fox, Jessica Rachel Clark, Carlee Payne and Ahsha Smith all were picked to the Region IV team for the 2006 U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Thanksgiving Interregionals.

WORLD CLASS. The New Jersey club had three players ù Nikki Krzysik, Sheree Gray and Yael Averbuch ù make the 2004 U.S. U-19 World Championship team. Averbuch has gone on to lead North Carolina to the 2006 NCAA Division I title and make the U.S. national team squad for the Four Nations Tournament in China. Younger sister Shira Averbuch, 16, is a promising player in the girls national team program. Rising Star: Defender Amber Brooks is also a member of the U.S. under-16 girls national team.

LAGUNA HILLS ECLIPSE. Another powerhouse from Southern CaliforniaÆs Orange County, the Eclipse won national championships in 2002 (U-15s) and 2005 (U-18s). In 2006, the Eclipse United finished second in the Region IV U-19 finals, and the Eclipse White was named the U-17 Coast Soccer League Premier and California Premier champion. Its recent graduates include University of Texas star Kasey Moore. Rising Star: Laura Cole, a high school junior on the U-17 Eclipse White, attended the Thanksgiving Interregionals.

IRVINE STRIKERS SC. Better known for their boys program based in Orange County (Calif.), the Strikers won their first US Youth Soccer national championship in 2006 when they captured the U-14 title. Julie Mckee and Makenna Henry won individual honors as the Strikers finished their run with a 1-0 victory over the Hershey Attack in the final. Rising Stars: Nicole De Puy and Natalia Ledezma are members of the Region IV æ92 team that traveled to Florida over Thanksgiving for the USYS ODP competition.

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