Sports

Marysville-Pilchuck boys soccer has high expectations

MARYSVILLE — High expectations come with the territory for the Marysville-Pilchuck boys soccer team.

After all, the Tommies did finish the 2009 season 18-2-2 overall, garnering a top-10 national ranking, a conference championship and school-best, fourth-place state placing.

“I don’t think the guys quite understand the pressure that they are under yet because everyone expects them to do well,” said M-P coach Geoff Kittle.

A lack of self-awarness can be a blessing, however, when you’re the clear favorite to repeat atop the Western Conference. The Tomahawks broke a 10-year Snohomish reign of that honor last spring.

But all the praise is deserved, as M-P is likely the only school in the state to return a pair of Division I forwards in John Crenshaw and Brady Ballew.

Crenshaw, who will play for the University of Washington next fall, scored 22 goals and had six assists for M-P in 2009 and is a candidate for player of the year honors. He will have help up front from Ballew, who will don a Seattle University jersey in the fall.

“They are exceptionally fast and work well together,” said Kittle of his strikers.

Terrance Johnson and Kier Torkkola will help stabilize the defense as they provide experience and leadership to the Tommies, while keeper Kyle Bluhm will look to build on his season-saving heroics during the Class 4A state tournament.

Marysville had the best season in school history in almost every respect in 2009, and returning a number of players from that team will be challenging.

“I think keeping these guys’ heads on straight will important in our outcome,” Kittle said. “There is a lot of talent on this team and we have a number of players to pick from.”

The Tommies lost 2-1 in the state semifinal to state champion South Kitsap last year. While, on paper, the Tommies are starting with what it takes to make a championship run, they still have to get through one of the toughest conferences in the state.

“Snohomish is always well coached and Monroe and Lake Stevens should be improved,” Kittle said.

M-P’s first match is 7:30 p.m., March 16 at Stanwood.

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