FLN’s Preseason Girls 1A Top 10!

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Sophia Pyne’s picture from her ConnectLax.com profile

FLN Note: We are going to do each of the four Polls as separate articles, as we go through the day. For those cynics who would say we are doing that to maximize page views . . . rest assured you are CORRECT! But it also allows us to analyze where graduations will take a toll, which is time-consuming. There were a few disagreements on our Bracket predictions, and I want to THANK those who did so! Nothing shows how much we are growing as a state, AND as a platform, then disagreement and debate. Keep it coming!

Notes on looking at this year’s Top 10 (and Top 15 on the Boys’ side):

First, as always, the defending champions get #1, regardless of what comes back. Regardless of whether that holds up or not, that’s the custom. The finalist on the losing side gets #2 and then we go from there. Remember, it’s not how you start the race, it’s where you finish, as so many Pole sitters in auto racing know all too well. This state now has over 200 teams in both Boys and Girls and the idea we will catch everything preseason, like injuries, graduations and transfers, and so on, are too much to ask for. So enjoy this as thought-provoking as much as final, and good luck to all the programs out there!

As we go into the season, remember a few things:

Referees do their best! #LayOffTheRefs

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Most of the time they will come back for more if they haven’t been exposed to it before

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The Girls 1A will likely show some changes from the Final Top 10 last year;

1) American Heritage-Delray – avenged their only regular season loss to the Highlanders when it counted the most

2) Lake Highland Prep – the flip side of the coin

3t) Ponte Vedra – when you look at Ponte Vedra and Pine Crest they have similar resumes in how they played the top programs . . .

3t) Pine Crest – . . . so there’s no reason to choose between the two.  I saw both and they are excellent teams just a step below the Top 2

5) Community School of Naples – got to the Final Four with a win over . . .

6) Berkeley Prep . . . the #6 ranked team . . .

7) St. Stephen’s Episcopal . . . the best resume of the rest that I viewed, close losses to #5 and #6

8) Episcopal School of Jacksonville – saw them in action and they passed the eye test

9) Bishop Moore – can’t ignore their terrific strength of schedule, just behind LHP’s and a quality win over Plant

10) Gulf Breeze – see what I write below . . . hopefully they will get the go-ahead to schedule out of the area next year because the regular season was exposed by the 18-1 loss to PV in the first round.

Also considered (alphabetically):

Academy of the Holy Names, American Heritage-Plantation, Benjamin, Calvary Christian (Ft. Laud), Edgewood, Ransom Everglades, Trinity Prep

photo from her IWLCASportsRecruits.com page

American Heritage-Delray returns most of its’ firepower, but LHP saw the graduation of Olivia Adamson, Sarah Pokorny and Ashley Thurston, so their youth will have to step up.

Pine Crest lost their two top scorers, Taylor McClain and Sophia Lehrman, and that will be very difficult to get over. Community School lost their 95-goal scorer, Prentice Atterbury, but returns three 40+ goal scorers to ease the loss.

Ponte Vedra moved up to 2A, so there’s a slot in the Poll that opened up. Berkeley Prep didn’t post most of their statistics and last year’s roster showed only 3 seniors from a team that lost their regional final to Community School by one goal, so I’m seeing a probable repeat of a playoff run. (Coaches, PLEASE keep your statistics updated!!!)

St. Stephen’s Episcopal returns their three leading scorers (albeit, not a full posting on MaxPreps of stats), with 2 of them now sophomores and one a junior in Sienna Cassella, Ashling Marshall and Bella Rosa

Episcopal School of Jacksonville returns the duo of Sofia Chepenik and Keeley Cleeland and do not have to contend with Ponte Vedra, so a Final Four run is a good possibility for them.

Bishop Moore played a monster schedule last year but there are no statistics for me to look at. Their roster was not posted either, so I have no input to go by this year. Gulf Breeze graduated a ton of senior firepower and has really stepped up their schedule, with trips to Ponte Vedra, Episcopal School, Riverview-Sarasota and Creekside so good for them in taking that step up!

One team I am looking to see with great interest is Academy of the Holy Names, which really snuck up on me. Sophia Pyne looks like the real deal. They didn’t post statistics, but did beat St. Stephen’s last year and have a good path to the Brackets.

So without further ado, here’s the Top 10 for 1A:

FLN’s Preseason Top 10 Girls 1A

  1. American Heritage-Delray – has to be the favorite with who they return versus what LHP lost to graduation
  2. Lake Highland Prep – until someone knocks off this duopoly, this is the battle in 1A for now
  3. Community School of Naples – the schedule is significantly upgraded, with the opener at home with Pine Crest and a visit to 2A champ St. Thomas Aquinas in the third game of the year. They also host Steinbrenner later in the year.
  4. Episcopal School of Jacksonville – stud seniors usually are big difference makers
  5. St. Stephen’s Episcopal – youth will be served
  6. Pine Crest – a steady program that won’t fall far, but replacing their senior class won’t be easy
  7. Bishop Moore – the schedule is again very tough and they are in the same district as LHP, but “iron sharpens iron” for this former FHSAA finalist
  8. Academy of the Holy Names – also stepping up the schedule and let’s see if they can handle it
  9. Berkeley Prep – going on last year’s accomplishments on this one
  10. Gulf Breeze – I don’t expect them to be in the rankings later on due to the combination of schedule and graduation, but I want to acknowledge them for realizing you have to take a step back to take two steps forward

Also Considered:

Edgewood – they had a tough time with their top competition, but a lot of their scoring is back. What could hold them back is that the schedule is lacking.

Good luck to all!