As good as Sara Grieco has been throughout her high school lacrosse career at Mill Creek, she knew she and her teammates were ready to enter some uncharted territory this spring.
Sure enough, the 2019 Daily Post’s Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year and the Hawks had a season in which they went where no Mill Creek team had gone before in reaching the Class 6A/7A state title game for the first time in school history before falling to now 13-time champion Milton.
“It was crazy,” the senior attacker said. “As the season progressed, … we all stepped up, and it was amazing to watch. Instead of being nervous about (getting to the finals for the first time), we all just got really excited.
“Before the Roswell game (in the state quarterfinals), and then the West Forsyth game (in the semifinals), we all came out with this energy that we didn’t have (earlier in) the season. And we were all like, ‘We’re going to do this.’ Everyone had the confidence, and we were going off as one. It was amazing.”
The confidence that the Hawks (17-6-1) gained throughout the season could also be seen in Grieco right from the onset of the season, and it manifested itself in a prolific season, and that production goes even beyond the team-best 93 goals and 34 assists.
Her 100 draw controls and 25 groundballs also demonstrated an increase diversity in her game, which she said came with not only more confidence in her game, but a little more aggression.
“I think this year, I stepped up more,” Grieco said. “I wanted to be even more involved in the offense than I normally was (in the past). Every year, I was very involved. But this year, I just wanted to take charge because I really wanted to go to (the) state (finals), and I knew this team had it in us.”
While Grieco deserves the credit to taking her game to a new level this spring, she also got a little help in developing her game from a number of different sources.
One was her teammates, and in particular, fellow senior attacker Lyndsey Lewis, who was also a first-team All-County selection whom Mill Creek coach Brian Williamson said developed plenty of chemistry within the Hawks’ offense.
“Being this was (their) senior (year), (Grieco) and Lyndsey (Lewis) both were (more aggressive),” Williamson said. “Lyndsey always has been a little bit more on the aggressive side, but they were such an offensive force this year between the two of them.
“(Grieco) was much more aggressive this year. She had really good years before, but this year, she was just off the charts with what she would did in the games. If we needed a goal, she could get a goal. She had the game-winning goal in overtime against Centennial (on April 17), had lots of goals in lots of games. … Not to say she wasn’t a good player in other years, but this year, she was absolutely different. She was, in some ways, just a different Sara, almost like she didn’t belong in high school (lacrosse) anymore. She was that good with the ball. … You can’t stop her one-on-one. A lot of times (opponents) couldn’t stop her two-on-one.”
The other major influence on her season, and really her entire high school career, was her twin brother Willie, who had a high-scoring season of his own with 76 goals and 30 teams for the Mill Creek boys team.
While girls and boys lacrosse are different in many significant ways, Grieco said there was still plenty she could take away and apply from the boys game by comparing notes with her brother.
“We’ve kind of always (done that) since we started playing,” Grieco said. “We’ve kind of played the same. And we have an older brother (Edward) who played too, and we all play very similar. I love watching (her brothers) play. The boys game is so different. I love bringing parts of the boys game into the girls game. It’s so exciting to watch and so fast.”
As much as Grieco learned from just discussing the game with her brother, actual experience with the boys game has made an even bigger difference in the way she plays.
And Williamson has definitely noticed.
“One of the things she explained to me early on was that when she would go out and play lacrosse (as a young kid), it would be with her brother and his friends,” Williamson said. “So she had to catch and throw really well because they have boys (lacrosse) sticks, and those sticks are easier to catch with. Early on when I would ask her how she was so good with the stick, she would explain to me that she was always outside playing lacrosse with him.
‘“A lot of people, go out and train here and there, but a lot of her training was … she was always playing with the boys outside. So she would have to get better.”
Grieco plans to get even better as she heads off to play Division II college lacrosse at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., in the fall.
It’s an opportunity she’s dreamed about her whole life, and it’s one she definitely plans to take full advantage of.
“I’m so excited,” Grieco said. “This is what I’ve been working for all (my) high school (career).”