Sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh analyzed the Loyola defense as she moved toward the net.
She had senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck and senior midfielder Madi Hall to her right but decided to take matters into her own hands.
The reigning Big East Freshman of the Year faked left and went right, evading the outstretched arms of midfielder Sam Fiedler. Midfielder Katie Detwiler tried to obstruct Kavanagh’s vision by swiping her stick in front of Kavanagh’s face shortly after. But the sophomore dodged it like a boxer does a punch. The last player left to beat was midfielder Taylor VanThof, who held her stick out near Kavanagh’s chest. Kavanagh, however, still managed to fire a shot past goalkeeper Kady Glynn to cut Florida’s deficit to 7-6.
That goal against the No. 16 Greyhounds in Baltimore was a microcosm of Kavanagh’s performance on the road this season. She scored four goals and was perfect from the free position on Saturday, going 2-for-2.
The Gators midfielder was held pointless at home against No. 2 Maryland on Feb. 14 and was unsuccessful in her only free-position shot of the game. Kavanagh’s 10-game streak of recording at least one assist was snapped against the Terrapins.
She was a different player against then-No. 17 Colorado on Feb. 9.
The sophomore scored a career-high five goals and tallied two assists at Kittredge Field in Boulder, Colorado. Once again, Kavanagh converted on all of her free-position attempts (4-4). The seven-point outing against the Buffaloes earned her AAC Midfielder of the Week honors.
Kavanagh’s performance in the draw circle has been better away from the friendly confines of Donald R. Dizney Stadium, too.
In the season-opener against Colorado, she led all players with six draw controls. This allowed UF to start the game on a 7-0 run.
Kavanagh managed only one draw control against the Terps, which proved detrimental for Florida, who controlled 11 draws to Maryland’s 20.
The Gators’ primary draw taker had a difficult matchup against Loyola’s VanThof, who has won the second-most draw controls in program history. VanThof’s ability to win the draw was a point of emphasis for Kavanagh and UF in the week leading up to the game, coach Amanda O’Leary said.
Florida’s assistant coach Taryn VanThof emulated her younger sister’s technique in practice, showing Kavanagh what to expect when facing Taylor in the draw circle.
Kavanagh controlled the draw three times on Saturday at the Ridley Athletic Complex, which tied her for second on the team. Taylor, who had nine draw controls in Loyola’s season opener, only recorded four against the Gators.
UF’s next three games are on the road, which bodes well for Kavanagh given her performances away from home this season.
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at email@example.com.
Sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh scored four goals and was perfect from the free position against the No. 16 Greyhounds in Baltimore on Saturday.