Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek's Maddie Beck has been selected as the Daily Post's girls lacrosse player of the year.
HOSCHTON -- In many ways, the 2013 girls high school lacrosse season Mill Creek's Maddie Beck enjoyed this spring paralleled that of her entire team.
Having already made a good first impression as relative newcomers, the sophomore midfielder and the Hawks both took a major, and impressive, step forward.
For the Hawks, it meant winning the Area 4-AAAAAA championship for the second time in their third season as a varsity program, and becoming the first Gwinnett County team to ever qualify for the Class AAAAAA state semifinals.
"It was definitely a great accomplishment," Beck said of Mill Creek's 19-2 season. "Our coaches always had high expectations of us. Last year, making the Elite Eight and this year making the Final Four, hopefully next year making the championship, (was) awesome.
"All of our players kind of matured over the summer, and we knew. We expected to go big this year."
Expectations, both her own and those of Mill Creek's coaches, were also high for Beck.
And the 2013 Daily Post Girls Player of the Year lived up to those expectations by taking her game to another level, posting solid numbers all the way across the board with 48 goals, 25 assists, 65 draw controls, 37 caused turnovers and 17 groundballs.
But it wasn't just the numbers that had Hawks coach Brian Williamson expecting big things of Beck from the very beginning of her career a year ago.
"I remember the first time I saw her in tryouts (last year)," Williamson recalled. "Her overall strength and speed and how hard she played and how aggressive she played were like nothing I'd ever seen before.
"She's a smart player, but her aggressiveness is like nothing I've ever seen before. She just has a motor that never stops, and I think that elevates the team. Not that they don't all play hard, but I think she helps raise their aggressiveness."
While a strong graduating senior class that includes Mill Creek teammate Tori Windom has laid the groundwork at several relatively new programs throughout Gwinnett, Beck is one of a promising new generation of players that figures to raise the county's profile in lacrosse even further.
Beck has done her part, not only with the season she just completed, but also with her participation in the tryout camp for the Under Armour All-American team.
She was one of 24 players among 90 overall candidates, and one of only three from Georgia, selected for the South regional team that will compete against similar teams from eight other regions at the Under Armour All-American tournament July 5-7 at Towson University just outside Baltimore.
And Williamson believes she has not only put herself on the national map with her performance, but also raised the profile of the Mill Creek program and all of Gwinnett lacrosse.
"I'm not sure what impact it will have going forward, but ... it's a huge accomplishment," Williamson said. "She knows a lot of kids throughout the county, and she and (Collins Hill freshman) Abby Squires are two players that the kids all know. ... The sky's the limit for her."
Beck agrees, but she also knows that it will take continued hard work for her to realize that potential.
She also looks forward to the challenge of playing against an ever-increasing pool of talent in Gwinnett and throughout Georgia, a trend she's noticed since she took up the game in the Gwinnett Lacrosse League youth program while in middle school, and has continued into high school.
"As this (Mill Creek) program has been in place five years now, our seniors haven't played as long as these girls coming in (now)," Beck said. "It's just more and more talent, and it's getting better and better, and our program keeps growing.
"I love the competition that's finally taking place. When I was in eighth grade in the (Gwinnett Lacrosse League), there wasn't much competition. But now, it keeps growing, and it definitely boosts my confidence and makes me want to achieve more."