No doubt, Maggie Mawhinney
had an enormous number of suitors to choose from as she embarked on the college recruiting process.
As it is for any young athlete, it was an exciting time for Mawhinney, an attacking midfielder who has developed into one of the top scorers in Colorado for the Thompson Valley (Loveland)
girls lacrosse program. Nevertheless, Mawhinney was fearful that an integral part of what has made her high school experience so special would be lacking at the next level.
Currently, Mawhinney leads the state with 111 points. Yet perhaps even more important to Mawhinney than any goal or assist total is the pride she gleans from being part of the first senior class in Thompson Valley's four-year-old program.
And among the countless collegiate programs vying for Mawhinney's attention was one that appealed to her for many of the same reasons why she has enjoyed helping build the Eagles' program from scratch.
In that spirit, Mawhinney committed to be part of the inaugural team at Southern California, which will launch its fledgling program during the 2012-13 school year. Mawhinney will play under new head coach Lindsey Munday, a former player and coach for the powerhouse program at Northwestern.
"I've enjoyed being part of the first of everything at Thompson Valley, and I think that's what made USC so appealing," Mawhinney said. "I can go there and be part of another first class. I think that definitely made deciding college easier. It was just the perfect school for me."
If Mawhinney can come even remotely close to replicating the scoring touch she has enjoyed at Thompson Valley, she will light up opposing defenses for the Trojans. She burst onto the scene in the first year of Thompson Valley's program, recording 46 goals and 19 assists as a freshman. She ranked ninth in the state with 91 points as a sophomore and ranked fourth last year in goals (80) and points (110).
Going into the Eagles' game Saturday against Cheyenne Mountain, Mawhinney had been held to one goal in only one game this season while scoring at least eight in four separate contests, including a 12-goal outburst against Alta (Utah) on March 30. The senior is quick to credit the improvement of the Eagles' program with her ability to continually pile up impressive numbers year after year.
"If you look at our team, our team also has improved every year," Mawhinney said. "We've been able to build on that and put me in situations where I can be successful. The team ultimately getting better was probably the biggest factor in my improvement. We've been good at making different situations real in practice, so come game time it's not really a surprise or adjustment."
Mawhinney got her start in lacrosse when she joined the Fort Collins-based Havoc Lacrosse club when she was in fifth grade. Almost immediately Mawhinney fell under the tutelage of Havoc coach Liz Melahn, who currently is the coach at Thompson Valley. Both coach and player confess that it is bittersweet to be nearing the end of their run together, yet Melahn admits it has been a uniquely rewarding experience to mentor a talent of Mawhinney's caliber.
"Maggie is a very unique kid," Melahn said. "I've seen her grow, and she has always been very driven. A lot of kids are like that, but she thinks in boxes. She's very goal-oriented, and those goals matter to her more than most kids. That has played a big part of how she's become the player she is. She lives and breathes lacrosse. She has a mind for lacrosse that has really developed in the last two or three years."