RALEIGH — Wakefield High girls’ lacrosse coach Denna Grasso tries to create a family feel in the program. She strives for team cohesiveness.
“From the beginning we’ve stressed the family aspect,” Grasso said after Friday’s 16-7 win over Athens Drive in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.
“We say ‘together’ after every practice and before every game,” Grasso said. “There are 12 players on the field, but those eight on the sidelines are important too.”
Having three sisters on the 20-player roster helps, too.
The Blawas girls played a prominent role in Friday’s victory. Senior Ashley Blawas had three goals and five assists, and sophomore Megan had two goals and two assists. Freshman Camryn plays mostly on defense.
“They’re all three a little different,” Grasso said. “Ashley has started every game since her freshman year. She leads us in assists this year and always sees the field so well. Sometimes I wish she would be a little more selfish, but she’s going to find the open player and make that last pass. She doesn’t care about stats; she brings out the best in others.
“Megan also started as a freshman and is a little more of a finisher on offense. While Ashley is more of finesse player, Megan is scrappier. And Camryn is kind of a combination of that. It’s hard for a freshman to play a lot with our lineup, but Camryn has been a defender and I feel she’ll be more on the offensive end for us next year,” Grasso said.
Ashley, who will be a freshman at Duke next year, has enjoyed being on the team with both of her sisters. “This is cool. We’re together every day and get to know each other’s friends,” she said.
“Having girls like that who have come up through youth lacrosse has really helped our program and will continue to do so,” Grasso said. “And with Ashley and Megan on the field so much together, they just do things intuitively that you don’t see. You know they’ve spent a lot of time playing together.”
Playing the game seems natural. Their mother, Amy Blawas, played in college for Lafayette (Pa.). She and her husband, Mike, helped start the Wake Forest Whippets youth program. While having three girls playing meant two or three different teams going in different directions, the Blawas are enjoying being on one team.
“It’s great, just fantastic, not just for our girls but the way the team is so unselfish and is happy for each other,” Amy Blawas said. “They celebrate each others’ victories, like a goal, or a take-away on defense. They really support each other.”
The playoffs give the Wolverines (14-2) a tighter bond.
Two years ago they lost to Hoggard in the third round. Last year they lost in the second round. The Wolverines will travel to Wilmington Hoggard on Tuesday.
“This team is still bitter from last year; they were very disappointed,” Grasso said. “So I think they’re playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, not in a bad way, but in a good , unassuming way.”
Ashley Blawas, the senior, said she remembers the disappointment of the seniors in past years.
“I think we’re a really balanced team, so as a senior there’s not a ton of pressure on me,” she said. “A win would be awesome. I just hope we perform well and do our best. That’s all you can do.”