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Aug. 25, 2016 — The national preseason Top 10

Today, we release our preseason national Top 10, based upon last year’s performances, individual players in the club pipeline, and returning players. Because of these and other variables, this is very much of a back-of-the-envelope list.

This Top 10 goes weekly in mid-to-late September once everyone has gotten started. And because of some early-season tournaments and non-conference matches, there are going to be a lot of changes between the preseason and the first weekly Top 10.

1. Emmaus (Pa.) 27-0

The Hornets return senior Meredith Sholder, who is on the U.S. senior indoor women’s national team as well as on the U-19s. Should become history’s third 200-goal scorer by the time the regular season ends

2. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 24-2

Oak Knoll, with a number of superb players returning, actually starts the 2016 season as the favorite in New Jersey. Much like Eastern teams of the recent past, you have younger sisters (Gabby Andretta, Ali McCarthy) who are going to be heard from before the season ends

3. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 27-1

The Indians looked like absolute world-beaters on several occasions last season, including a 7-1 defeat of Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) in the state quarterfinal round. This year, if they win the state tournament, they will have truly earned it because of the teams likely to be in the bracket

4. Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 20-3

The Indians have not gotten into the second week of the state tournament even with U-21 national teamer Erin Matson in the lineup. That should change this year, depending on the draw

5. Chantilly Westfield (Va.) 20-2

The Bulldogs, winners of the Class 6A state title in 2013, have all of the tools to win it again. Watch for Mackenzie Karl, late of the U-17 national team. She helped the combined Virginia/North Carolina Futures team to the gold medal in the U-19 division

6. Palmyra (Pa.) 25-3

The Cougars may have been about two inches from beating Emmaus in last year’s state title matchup. They return goalie Cheyenne Sprecher, who might steal a game or two for them before the year is out

7. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 27-0

The expectations that this program has put on itself are extremely high. What other field hockey team can you say has produced a 60-goal scorer every year for the past five seasons? This is going to be an uneasy season for the Vikings, but it’s to be expected without a ball having yet been struck

8. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 26-1

Megan Rodgers (60 goals) will lead the attack, but there will be a lot of other players from the San Diego RUSH club program which will help bolster the Conquistadores’ offense

9. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 20-3

The Falcons fell a win short of the Class 6A state championship a year ago, but they are a definite candidate to win the crown this year; a stretch of games in early October could tell the tale of their season

10. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 23-3

The Comets are the one team that will have to deal with Donegal (in Lancaster-Lebanon play), Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (in District 3 play), and, very likely, Emmaus (in Class AAA play)

And bear in mind: Acton-Boxborough (Mass.) 23-0, Watertown (Mass.) 21-0, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 21-0, East Chapel Hill (N.C.) 20-2, Oley (Pa.) Valley 16-6, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 27-2, Rosemont Agnes Irwin (Pa.) 14-7, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 25-0

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