Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nolan Showcase showcases the best of winter soccer; POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 could be settled on the field


While the Tri-Valley Classic and Excalibur high school girls’ soccer events put order to California winter state rankings, it’s the Nolan Showcase in Texas that ties together the country.

This year’s event, being held at six venues in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, features eight of the current Top 25 teams in the POWERADE FAB 50. In addition to No. 1 Boyd (McKinney, Texas), No. 2 Coppell (Coppell, Texas) and No. 3 Ursuline Academy (Dallas, Texas), No. 24 San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.) and No. 16 St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) are part of the mix.

The following is a quick overview of this year’s event, which starts Thursday in Fort Worth:

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 ranking may be settled on the field this week.

KICKOFF CLASSIC: One of the event’s marquee matches will be held on the opening night, under the lights at Texas Christian University as No. 1 Boyd opens its season against No. 3 Ursuline. Ursuline has the benefit of entering the contest having already played 12 regular-season matches.

MAJOR PLAYERS: In addition to the five teams listed above, No. 5 Plano West (Plano, Texas), No. 10 Clear Lake (Houston, Texas), No. 11 Seven Lakes (Katy, Texas), No. 26 Martin (Arlington, Texas), Allen (Allen, Texas), Plano East (Plano, Texas) and St. Stephen’s (Austin, Texas) figure to be contenders for bracket titles.

WHAT TO WATCH: Florida’s reputation will be on the line in the form of St. Thomas Aquinas. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) traveled to California for the Tri-Valley Classic and promptly returned home after an 0-4 showing. If Aquinas does not show well in Texas, it might prove that the balance of power in high school girls’ soccer is west of the Mississippi River – either in Texas or California.

RANKINGS SHAKE-UP: Several Texas teams that start play Thursday have climbed artificially high in the FAB 50 simply because they are undefeated – while Florida and California programs have already played their way into a ranking order. Currently, seven Texas teams hold Top 10 spots. That will certainly change after this week’s Nolan Showcase as the Texas teams will start to play their way into order.

PLAYERS OF NOTE: Coppell senior midfielder Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford), McKinney Boyd senior forward Kelley Monoque and senior defender Meghan Streight (both to Texas A&M), Southlake Carroll defender Taylor Schneider (Notre Dame), St. Thomas Aquinas senior midfielder Ashley Oswald (Vanderbilt), Nolan Catholic senior Alexis Rios (Mexico’s under-17 national team) and San Clemente senior midfielder Frannie Coxe (Yale).

CLOSING CONTEST: Perhaps the most important Nolan Showcase match takes place Saturday at Nolan Catholic when St. Thomas Aquinas takes on San Clemente.

UPDATES: ESPN RISE will deliver daily scores and stories from the Nolan Showcase, and updates throughout the day. Matches start Thursday at 2 p.m. locally and run through 9:30 p.m. Games start at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

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