When Sam Farrell arrived at Florida, she wanted to be one of the best lacrosse players in the nation. Winning the Tewaaraton Award, considered the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in college lacrosse, was her dream. Four years later, the senior has nearly reached her goal.
Farrell was named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list on Feb. 22 along with teammates Kitty Cullen, Brittany Dashiell and Mikey Meagher.
Farrell never thought she would be recognized nationally as a defender.
Farrell came to Florida as a midfielder. During her freshman and sophomore seasons, the coaches thought she could make a bigger impact playing the back line.
“Moving to low [defense] was one of the best things to happen to me,” Farrell said.
On Tuesday night, Farrell helped the UF defense shut out Lehigh during the first half of an 18-2 win.
Since that switch, Farrell has flourished as captain of the Gators’ defensive unit. She anchors the nation’s sixth-best scoring defense, which allows 6.67 goals per game.
“Being a part of a great defensive unit like this one makes it easier to get noticed,” Farrell said.
Farrell is one of four seniors that Florida had on the Tewaaraton Award watch list. Maryland was the only other team with that many.
“To have four young ladies represent the University is significant to our program,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “It says where we are within the country, but certainly, individual honors are great for these young ladies.”
Nationally, earning recognition as a defender is difficult. Attackers and midfielders can score goals and record assists, and goalkeepers can boast a high save percentage.
Farrell leads the team with 12 forced turnovers this season and is tied for third with 14 groundballs.
Only nine of the 50 players on the list are defenders.
Nevertheless, O’Leary believes Farrell deserves recognition.
“She just goes out and works hard every single day,” O’Leary said.
“Those successes are from that hard work. I think she’s the best defender in the country. With her, mediocrity is not an option.”
Senior attacker Gabi Wiegand prepares to take a shot during Florida’s 16-9 win against Stony Brook on Feb. 20 at Dizney Stadium. Wiegand scored four goals against Oregon on Saturday.