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Originally published September 14, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Page modified September 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM

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After competing with her brothers, Meadowdale’s Emily Crichlow is dominating girls soccer

Crichlow, who has verbally committed to Colgate University, had 18 goals last year, and the Mavericks will heavily rely on her to lead them back to the state playoffs this year.

Special to The Seattle Times

Five things to watch in girls soccer this year

1. Can the Spartans find their way back to another Class 4A state title?

Skyline returns eight starters from last year’s Class 4A state-championship team, but must navigate a treacherous KingCo 4A schedule, including Issaquah, to capture its third title in a row and fifth in sixth years. Only a 1-0 4A state semifinal loss to Tahoma in 2010 as the No. 1 team in the country has kept the Spartans from winning five titles in a row.

2. Can Seattle Prep return to Class 3A championship form?

The Panthers reached the 3A title game five times in six years before last season, when they lost to eventual champion Columbia River, 2-1, in the first round. Coach Andy Hendricks has another talented squad in his 24th year as Prep coach despite losing six seniors.

3. Transfer could boost chances of Lake Washington in KingCo 3A/2A race

Junior defender Taylor Sekyra, a talented center back already verbally committed to the University of Washington, transferred this year to 2A Lake Washington from 3A Liberty, last year’s KingCo 3A/2A champion. The two matches between the teams — at Liberty on Sept. 19 and at LW on Oct. 15 — should be interesting with this story line.

4. Loss of top talent in Class 2A opens up title race

Sumner completed a 21-0 run to the Class 2A state crown in 2012, beating Sehome of Bellingham in the final. But Sumner lost four key players to graduation, and Sehome lost nine seniors. Bellingham, which finished fourth, could have the best shot at moving to the top in 2013.

5. Is there a dynasty building at small school in Redmond?

Only time will tell if the Bear Creek School, a Class 2B school in Redmond, can sustain its success. The Grizzlies have won back-to-back 1B/2B titles and are 28-9-2 under third-year coach Brandon Gonzalez.

Matt Massey

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Modest, almost unassuming, could describe Emily Crichlow. That’s in the school hallways.

Put the Meadowdale forward on the soccer pitch, though, and she’s an all-out blur of arms and legs pumping. With blow-by speed, lateral movement and a lethal first step, the four-year starter overwhelms.

The Mavericks’ leader and senior captain is poised to complete some unfinished business in 2013 after her 2012 team, then ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, suffered its season’s first loss in the state quarterfinals to eventual champion Columbia River, 1-0.

It was a rare occasion where the 17-year-old Crichlow, who tallied 18 goals and dealt three assists in 2012, was part of unfulfilled goals. The Mavs’ shining star has parlayed her success into a scholarship and verbal commitment to Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.

But now it’s time to erase the sting of last season’s bitter end.

“It was definitely disappointing after being (ranked) No. 1 last year,” Crichlow said. “It was like, ‘We’re going to get this one,’ and then we’re out of state.”

For leadership, this year’s team will look to Crichlow and fellow seniors Kearstin Franco (forward), Alyssa Navlet (midfielder) and Kendall Raeker (defender-midfielder). Junior goalkeeper Ashley Routh returns, but most of the defensive back line will be rebuilt.

On offense, however, everything will flow through Crichlow, one of six returning starters.

“Up top we didn’t lose much to graduation,” said third-year Meadowdale coach Wade Foley. “Emily gets a lot of respect from the team. She’s taken ownership of all the girls in this program.”

Crichlow’s drive to succeed in part came from growing up with a twin brother, Justin, who hopes to play soccer at Harvard next year, and an older brother, Matt, a junior cross country runner at Gonzaga University.

Matt is quick to acknowledge Emily as the top athlete in the family, however.

“She could beat all of us in a sprint and also can run long distance,” Matt said.

“I have no speed, and Justin would have trouble keeping up with her throughout a whole soccer game.”

Emily’s father, Bob Crichlow, credits the athletic prowess in the family of his wife, Sheree Swanson, for Emily’s skills. Swanson played soccer at Cal, and her two siblings also played Division I sports in college.

Bob Crichlow remembers his daughter perfecting her juggling skills in soccer in the front yard just a few years after she started playing soccer in kindergarten. At first, Emily owned the edge over Justin in successive juggles.

“She had a coach who showed her ball skills were important, and she put her mind to improving her juggling skills,” Bob Crichlow said, “and she got up over 1,000 in succession. ...She’d do it for an hour or more a day. Then, she would have a contests with some teammates. She just enjoys competition.”

Her sibling rivalry sparked something inside that has pushed to her success.

“When I first started playing club soccer, I played with my brother (Justin) and his team,” he said. “I’ve always played with my brother when we don’t have games. It’s good that I got to play with him, because he pushed me to always work harder.

“I’ve always practiced with the boys. Boys are definitely faster, and it’s made me better. I definitely have a competitive nature because of my brothers.”

The Mavs’ season won’t be complete without another trip to state, and Crichlow will be key in them getting there.

“Our first goal is to win the district championship,” said Emily. “After that, we’ll take it one step at a time.”

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