Shannon Gilroy’s career as a Gator was in jeopardy before it ever started.
A member of the 2011 U.S. Women’s U-19 Team and three-time U.S. Lacrosse All-American at Northport High in New York, Gilroy tore her left ACL in the last minute of a double-overtime state championship game last June.
“I was definitely really worried,” Gilroy said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I just knew I had to work really hard in order to play my freshman year.”
The highest-rated recruit of UF’s 2011 class worked her way back, becoming a significant contributor who is hoping to continue her strong play tonight at 6:30 as No. 4 Florida (10-2, 1-0 American Lacrosse Conference) hosts Fresno State (2-3).
After missing the entire fall season, Gilroy was able to get back on the field when spring practice began. Coach Amanda O’Leary said that despite the severity of the injury, she knew Gilroy would be able to make an impact this season.
“She has put the time and effort in,” O’Leary said. “Other people coming off ACL injuries, if they don’t put time in they are not going to reap the benefits.”
The improvement was not evident from the outset of the spring. Gilroy said she had trouble at first seeing desired results until realizing she was putting herself under too much pressure.
“I was too hard on myself,” Gilroy said. “I didn’t realize that until my teammates and coaches pointed that out to me, and I started to loosen up a bit.”
After not scoring in the Gators’ first two games, Gilroy has been impressive in the 10 games since, scoring 17 goals and notching five assists.
“Offensively, I think Shannon is starting to find her rhythm,” O’Leary said. “She’s a great target to try and find. She’s strong so she can go through double teams, and she has a great stick. We’re really pleased she is on our team and we don’t have to defend her.”
Gilroy’s 44 draw controls are also 16 more than anyone else on the team.
“It starts with the draw,” O’Leary said. “She has great height so she can draw it to herself, and when she’s not drawing to herself she can pull it to our attackers, who seem to be able to come up with it.”
Junior transfer attacker Gabi Wiegand, a native of Bay Shore, N.Y., played against Gilroy in high school and with her at the club level. Wiegand said Gilroy’s effectiveness on the draw gives the attackers the ability to get down the field faster.
“Sometimes I don’t even run in to get the ball [on draws],” Wiegand said. “I’m looking to go down field because I have so much confidence she’ll get the ball on her stick and it will be in our offensive end.”
While O’Leary is pleased with what Gilroy has brought to the team so far this season, she knows that the freshman will accomplish much bigger things in the future.
“She’s a young lady where if you set a goal in front of her she is going to achieve it.”
Freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy (right) competes for a draw control during a match with Stony Brook on March 14. Despite suffering a torn ACL last June, Gilroy has scored 17 goals and leads UF in draw controls.