By MATT MASSEY
Special to The Seattle Times
The biggest question mark coming into the fall for the Meadowdale High School girls soccer team was: “Who will score goals?”
A year ago, the answer was obvious.
Head coach Wade Foley knew it was going be tough to replace the graduated Alisa Sagdahl, now at the Montana State University-Billings.
Sagdahl, a Star Times selection and Class 3A all-state pick, supplied the Mavericks with 25 goals and four assists in their run to a fourth-place finish in 2011.
Foley’s and the Mavs have found another over-flowing goal source in junior forward Emily Crichlow, who has piled up 10 goals and added one assist thus far in 2012. Meadowdale, which was 18-5-0 last season, is off to a 5-0-0 start and worthy now of top-ranked status in 3A after Seattle Prep fell from the unbeatens.
“I didn’t know what to expect from this team in regards to finishing in final third with Alisa gone, but we didn’t skip a beat,” Foley said. “Any time you take a team to the Final Four, the girls have different sense of confidence.
“They know what to do to get the job done. We’ve focused more on a team game without Saggy. Crichlow has stepped into that role. We’re a better passing team and attacking team than last year.”
Last year’s state-playoff run gave the Mavericks a lot of confidence for 2012. Eight starters are back from that team.
It’s obvious that Crichlow has already taken a step forward from her solid sophomore season (16 goals, four assists).
“I can put her at just about any position,” Foley said. “She can play up top or in the midfield. She just has a sense for the goal.
“If she’s near the goal mouth, she can put it on target and find the corners. She has a lot of skill and training.”
The team has also done a good job of replacing sweeper Alexa Thompson and center midfielder Sophie Millet. Both players graduated in 2012.
When Crichlow is scoring goals it’s usually a result of the hard work and passing of midfielder Roslyn Stapleton.
Stapleton has six assists to lead the Mavericks in the first five matches.
“It’s been the vision of Roslyn that has really opening things up for Emily,” Foley said. “The girls are linking up well. Roslyn is one of the great game readers I’ve coached. She can slide it in, and she can put backspin on it. There’s not a lot of kids have that much touch on the ball.”
Foley made one adjustment on defense and now feels like that is the strength of this year’s club after five matches.
“Since our first game, our defense hasn’t really been tested,” Foley said. “Since that game, we’ve have very few shots (allowed) on goal. I feel very comfortable that our defense is the strongest component of my team this year. That wasn’t the case last year.
“I’m confident that teams are going to have a hard time scoring on us the remainder of the season.”
The Mavs started three seniors – Hannah Shouse, twins Tisha and Jasmine Parsley – and one junior – Kendall Raecker. Sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Routh started as a freshman and has three shutouts so far.
Raecker is making the move from midfielder to sweeper.
Meadowdale is hoping to bring home the school’s first state title since taking the 4A (then AAA) crown in 1981.
Tahoma remained unbeaten at 3-0-0 and atop the 4A rankings. Sumner also doesn’t have a blemish at 4-0-0 and leads the way in 2A.
Issaquah, No. 3 in 4A, moved into the national rankings picture while Skyline, the defending Class 4A champions, moved out, at least, for now. The Eagles jumped into the poll at No. 14 in the first National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) national poll for Sept. 11, 2012. Skyline, which debuted in a tie at No. 4 on Sept. 4, exited the poll. Here’s the Sept. 11 poll below:
Here are this week’s top matchups:
Tuesday, Sept. 18 – Narrows League 4A, South Kitsap at Olympia, 7 p.m.; Metro League Mountain Division 3A, Seattle Prep at Bainbridge, 6:45 p.m.; Eastside Catholic at Lakeside, 4 p.m.; KingCo 3A/2A, Interlake at Mercer Island, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 19 – Nonleague, Auburn Mountainview at Kennedy (Starfire), 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 20 – Eastside Catholic at Holy Names (Miller Playfield), 3:30 p.m.; SPSL North Division 4A, Kentridge at Tahoma, 7:30 p.m.; Narrows League 4A, Olympia at Gig Harbor, 5:15 p.m.; WesCo 3A South Division, Shorecrest at Meadowdale, 7:30 p.m.
Here are The Seattle Times 2012 rankings for Class 4A, 3A and 2A for Week 3 (current 2012 record in parentheses):
1, Tahoma (3-0-0)
2, Gig Harbor (1-0-0)
3, Issaquah (6-0-0)
4, Skyline (Sammamish) (4-0-2)
5, Bellarmine Prep (2-1-0)
6, Kentwood (3-0-0)
7, South Kitsap (2-0-0)
8, Mead (Spokane) (3-0-0)
9, Kentridge (3-1-0)
10, Edmonds-Woodway (4-0-0)
On the bubble: Gonzaga Prep (Spokane) (4-1-1), Central Valley (Spokane) (4-1-0), Ferris (Spokane) (4-0-0), Camas (4-0-0), Redmond (2-2-1), Skyview (Vancouver) (2-0-2), Union (Vancouver) (4-0-0), Lake Stevens (2-2-1), Snohomish (3-2-0), Eastlake (1-1-0), Inglemoor (4-0-1), Curtis (4-0-0), Puyallup (3-0-0), Cascade (Everett) (4-1-0), Moses Lake (4-1-0), Pasco (3-1-0), Davis (Yakima) (5-0-0), Rogers (Puyallup) (3-0-0), Federal Way (2-0-1), Inglemoor (4-0-1), Olympia (2-0-0).
1, Meadowdale (5-0-0)
2, Mount Spokane (6-0-0)
3, Auburn Mountainview (3-1-1)
4, Seattle Prep (4-1-1)
5, Eastside Catholic (3-1-0)
6, Everett (4-1-0)
7, Interlake (3-1-0)
8, Kamiakin (Kennewick) (5-0-1)
9, Bainbridge (5-0-0)
10, Mercer Island (4-0-0)
On the bubble: Holy Names (3-3-0), Lakeside (3-1-1), Bishop Blanchet (3-3-1), Shorecrest (3-1-0), Kennedy Catholic (2-2-0), Bonney Lake (2-2-1), Columbia River (3-0-1), Enumclaw (4-2-0), Liberty (Issaquah) (2-2-0), Hanford (4-2-0), University (Spokane) (3-1-0).
1, Sumner (4-0-0)
2, West Valley (Yakima) (5-0-0)
3, Archbishop Murphy (4-0-0)
4, Sehome (3-0-1)
5, Klahowya (4-0-0)
6, Pullman (4-1-0)
7, Fife (2-1-0)
8, Squalicum (2-0-1)
9, W.F. West (Chehalis) (5-0-0)
10, Cedarcrest (Duvall) (1-2-0)
On the bubble: White River (2-1-0), Lakewood (0-2-1), West Valley (Spokane) (2-1-0), Clarkston (2-1-0), Hockinson (3-1-1), East Valley (Yakima) (4-1-0), Capital (3-1-0), Cheney (3-2-0), Tumwater (2-2-0), Black Hills (3-1-0), Ridgefield (2-1-1).