Shannon Gilroy has become the star of a team in a sport where toughness beats perfection.
If she turns the ball over, she makes up for it on the next draw. She leads the team with 49 draws in just 11 games. Gilroy is the ultimate competitor, and every defense that has gone against Florida this season knows it.
In Tuesday night’s game, Dartmouth (3-3) played no differently defensively than every other team that has faced Gilroy. It got the same results.
In No. 4 Florida’s (9-2, 1-0 American Lacrosse Conference) 14-7 win against Dartmouth on Tuesday, Gilroy led the team with six goals.
At No. 3 Syracuse on Saturday, Gilroy faced the challenge of being defended by two and three of the best defenders in the country at once.
Even against some of the toughest players in the sport, Gilroy managed three goals, one assist and two caused turnovers.
Gilroy’s night against Dartmouth was much of the same, except, with more scoring and more caused turnovers.
With a career-high four caused turnovers, six goals and four draw controls, Gilroy supported the Gators when the momentum wasn’t in their favor.
“I had a lot of shots that I didn’t get in, but I had my teammates there to back it up and get me the ball,” Gilroy said.
Dartmouth’s defense focused most of its energy on the junior, who has been the powerhouse scorer for the Gators this season with 49 goals.
Coach Amanda O’Leary said Gilroy’s mentality is what makes her such an effective player.
“She’s taking on three defenders at minimum,” O’Leary said. “She’s just so strong and so smart with the ball. She has incredible shot selection. She is just the whole package.”
Gilroy’s job at midfield against the Big Green created momentum that the Gators lacked in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Florida is notorious for its quick offense and first-point-on-the-board mentality, but Dartmouth took the first goal and held Florida scoreless until the 25-minute mark in the first half.
It wasn’t until the Northport, N.Y., native put the third point of the game on the board from a free-position shot that Florida’s offense began to push the momentum in their direction.
“We like to start off fast; we do not like to have the first goal scored upon us,” O’Leary said.
Gilroy’s six points were three times more than the next closest scorer for the Gators. Freshman teammate Mollie Stevens came second on the team with two points.
“I have to credit Dartmouth,” O’Leary said. “This is a very, very good lacrosse team. They’re very well coached.”
At the end of the night, Gilroy finished with more broken career records, made more than five points in her fifth game of the season and came just one draw control shy of sitting at fifth in the single-season top-10 list.
Freshman attacker Sammi Burgess said Gilroy’s leadership and strength on shots have helped the Gators pick up momentum in tough situations.
“Her passion, I think, fuels a lot of us,” Burgess said.
Follow Eden Otero on Twitter @edenotero_l
Shannon Gilroy breaks away from a group of defenders during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Feb. 12 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.