On The Rise: The SLC’s Green and White Gryphon
With a record of 14-5-0, Sarah Lawrence ranked third in the 2019 NCAA Skyline Conference Women’s Soccer Standings and clinched a berth in the six-team Skyline Conference Championship. Read head coach Maurizio Grillo reflections on the collegiate season.
Maurizio Grillo became the head women’s soccer coach at Sarah Lawrence College in July 2017 and has transformed the program in his first two seasons, compiling 14 wins, including eight victories against Skyline opponents.
Grillo has led the Gryphons to earn five all-league selections — the first five in team history.
Recognized as NCAA Skyline Conference back-to-back Coach of the Year, Grillo has earned the most winning record of any coach in SLC team history. Not a coach who focuses on the score, he is a leader committed to developing players and helping them reach their potential.
Understanding not only the beautiful game but the rich mindset of the college, Grillo has brought pride and accomplishment to Sarah Lawrence College Women’s Soccer.
I am grateful and would like to thanks @SLCGryphons athletic department and my @SkylineConfD3 colleagues. This award belongs to the brilliant women student athletes who pushed boundaries and delivered for @SarahLawrence pic.twitter.com/DiBAodoXsL— Maurizio Grillo (@CoachGrillom) November 11, 2019
A prestigious D3 Liberal Arts college just 20 minutes from New York City, Sarah Lawrence was recently recognized on NBC’s TODAY for “Best Professors” in November 2019. The college has also earned “Professors Get High Marks” in 2018 and “Best Classroom Experience” in 2017 by The Princeton Review.
SoccerToday Interview with SLC Head Coach Maurizio Grillo
Diane Scavuzzo: It is great to see you again. How was the Sarah Lawrence Women’s Soccer season?
Maurizio Grillo: Coming off our 2018 record-breaking season, we were highly motivated to demonstrate that we really are a top conference contender.
Our results in 2018 and 2019 are truly team results — the collective effort contributed by everyone on the team.
I think we demonstrated to the conference, and more importantly, to ourselves, that we are, in fact, a team that can consistently deliver and grow.
The program appeared in the NCAA Skyline Women’s Soccer Championship Semifinals again and we had an overall standing of 14-5 for back-to-back winning campaigns, reflecting a five-win improvement from 2018.
We ended the season as the number 3 seed, earning a second straight first-round home playoff game advantage.
Diane Scavuzzo: Are you pleased with your team’s collegiate performance?
Maurizio Grillo: I couldn’t be more proud.
The girls arrived in August eager to learn about each other, their new surroundings, and the Sarah Lawrence community as a whole. I believe that collegiate performance means thriving on the field and in the classroom. True collegiate athletes find this balance and use these experiences to propel them forward as young adults, students, and athletes.
A great example is Tiffany McBrayer who added another accolade to her outstanding 2019 campaign, landing a spot on the 2019 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III All-East Region Third Team. McBrayer is the first Gryphon in program history to earn this recognition.
Our Tiffany McBrayer has been named on the United Soccer Coaches 3rd Team All-East Region in addition to the Academic All-District First Team. pic.twitter.com/mHihLLgyXc— Sarah Lawrence Women’s Soccer (@GryphonsWsoccer) December 3, 2019
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Maurizio Grillo: We’re not done growing and evolving. We want to be stronger and elevate the bar again, setting new program records and playing at least one additional game in the postseason.
It is also important to keep in mind the truth that we are a young program building a winning culture that will sustain our long-term goals. The most critical task ahead is to remain committed to excellence across all domains, ranging from the little things — like the matching collegiate practice gear to the big things — like recruiting top talent who fits our unique SLC community.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for when you recruit? Has it gotten easier to recruit girls now than when you first arrive?
Maurizio Grillo: Of course the core attributes — technical skills, intensity, sportsmanship, and intellectual curiosity — are clearly “must haves,” but I’m really looking for a recruit to convince me that they want more than just to play soccer.
I want players who are committed to proudly represent Sarah Lawrence College.
Recruiting for this special fit has become a bit easier over time, but the reality is that every recruit has a unique story to tell and reason for being interested in our special institution.
Our recent results on the field have led to greater interest in our school and team — and I am very proud as this is an exciting development for the entire Sarah Lawrence College community.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you believe that the incoming freshmen are more skilled than players who have graduated in the past?
Maurizio Grillo: I am very proud of the incredible freshmen we were able to recruit in 2019 and am equally optimistic that our next season will be defined by another incoming cohort of high caliber Sarah Lawrence student athletes.
It’s a cycle — strong freshman grow into exceptional team leaders who impart wisdom and depth to the team.
These freshmen, in turn, help us recruit greater talent next year.
Diane Scavuzzo: Are you able to help players continue their path of player development?
Maurizio Grillo: Student-athletes thrive in an environment that is both challenging and encouraging. It is my responsibility to create this environment and provide challenging and repetitive drills that build confidence and skill mastery. My program is committed to continuing individual player development.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who do you think is right for your program? Can you describe the characteristics of a student-athlete that would do well on your squad?
Maurizio Grillo: Our President, Cristle Collins Judd, once said that being part of Sarah Lawrence “is to step forward to engage another with intentionality and with the quintessential deep inquisitiveness, openness, and knowledge-seeking that personifies a Sarah Lawrence education”.
That intentionality and knowledge-seeking mentality are also core aspects of my soccer program. It is crucial for all athletes considering Sarah Lawrence to have a holistic passion for the game of soccer that will lead them to embrace all non-field related activities too.
Diane Scavuzzo: How supportive is the president of the college?
Maurizio Grillo: Extremely supportive and actively engaged. If we are hosting a game, you will see her on the field cheering on the team, talking to parents, posting live game updates, and taking selfies with the athletes.
We don’t take this for granted, not for one minute.
Diane Scavuzzo: What accolades have your players received this season?
Maurizio Grillo: Sarah Lawrence sophomore Tiffany McBrayer added another accolade to her outstanding 2019 campaign, landing a spot on the 2019 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III All-East Region Third Team. McBrayer becomes the first Gryphon in program history to earn all-region recognition.
Read: Grillo at SLC: Bringing the Beautiful Game to The Liberal ArtsSLC WOMEN’S SOCCER HEAD COACH GRILLO ON RECRUITING AND BUILDING A WINNING TEAM
Highlights of Sarah Lawrence College’s 2019 Women Soccer Season:
United Soccer Coaches: Tiffany McBrayer ( All-East Region )
All-Conference/Honors: Niki Dalrymple (Rookie of the Year; First Team), Tiffany McBrayer (First Team; CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team), Lainie Cadieux (First Team), Haley Willibey (Second Team, Maurizio Grillo (Coach of the Year)
United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award + Merit Sportsmanship Award: Sarah Lawrence College (2017, 2018)
New SLC Women’s Soccer Team Records:
- Wins (14)
- Conference Wins (8)
- Home Wins (8)
- Road Wins (6)
- Non-Conference Wins (6)
- Game Winning Goals (14)
- Assists (39 – tied with last year)
- Shutouts (7)
SLC Individual Player Records:
- Niki Dalrymple (Points – 49; Goals – 22; GWG – 5)
- Tiffany McBrayer (Assists – 18)
- Emily Cornejo (Wins – 11)
SLC Skyline Weekly Accomplishments
- Niki Dalrymple (4x Skyline Rookie of the WeeK)
- Emily Cornejo (1x Defensive Player of the Week)
- Tiffany McBrayer (2x Skyline Weekly Honor Roll)