With the proper perspective firmly in place, Minnetonka senior midfielder Ellie Crowell knows that the current girls' soccer state rankings, in which her Minnetonka team is ranked No. 2 among Class 2A teams, is relatively meaningless.

But Crowell, one of the state's top playmakers, is also a realist. She's not afraid to admit that it's a small measure of validation for her team to reach such lofty heights.

"It's nice to have some kind of evidence that's a testament to our success so far this year,'' Crowell said. "I'm pretty proud of it."

Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked to Crowell about where she and the Skippers go from here.

Q The team started strong last year but sputtered at the finish. What's different this season?

A We're very young, with a lot of underclassmen. The younger players all want to be here. They're all very motivated. Every single person on this team cares about preparing and being successful and winning.

Q Goals for this year?

A It's been my goal since I was a freshman to make it to the state tournament. I really believe that this team can get there.

Q Are you taking a greater leadership role?

A I think I've always been a leader in general, but as a senior, I've got a heightened sense of leadership.

Q What kinds of things are you doing?

A I send a text message to the entire team after every game. I try to make it a positive message. I think it's kind of a cool way to connect.

Q What would happen if you forgot to send a text?

A I forgot one time and I heard about it. They said, "I was waiting for the text and I never got it. What happened?" I said "Well, you guys never respond to them, so I didn't know you liked them." Now I know that everyone kind of waits for them.

Q You've been selected to All-Metro and All-State teams in the past. What's the secret to your success?

A I've played both defensive central midfielder and attacking central midfielder and my coaches like to play attacking. I think I have the ability to make passes that can kill defenders. And I also I'm very composed when I play.

Q Passing is underrated. Fans don't notice it, but players and coaches do.

A Soccer people appreciate what I can do with the ball. I love passing. There are times when I make a pass and wonder to myself, "How did I see that and know to pass there?"

Q You've committed to play at Cornell next year. Why?

A You mean besides the fact that it's a really amazing school that will help me prepare myself for anything I choose to do? Well, there's a new coach who's really awesome. And, because they're not doing so well right now, I feel in can come in and be an impact player right away.

Q What do you think you'll miss most about high school?

A I'm school vice president for student government and I'm in, like, four different clubs. I feel like I know so many people that I'm not afraid to be myself. I like to make people laugh and act crazy and dance and I think people like that. I've got so many positive relationships with friends and teachers that I'm sure that's what I'll miss the most.