April 5, 2014

Gilroy Too Much as No. 5 Florida Tops Johns Hopkins

by Megan Schneider | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay


BALTIMORE - The nation’s scoring leader, Shannon Gilroy, led No. 5 Florida to a 10-9 win over No. 13 Johns Hopkins with her seven goals, despite a tough challenge from the Blue Jays’ Taylor D’Amore who notched seven points with four goals and three assists.  

“Shannon is our Taylor,” said Florida coach Amanda O’Leary. “Shannon is just somebody who you want to have the ball in her stick and you want it in her stick as much as possible for one, either to be driving to goal, or for two, to be creating opportunities for other people, and I thought she did that today.”

The Gators got off to a slow start as Hopkins held them scoreless for the first 17 minutes of the game.

From the opening draw, Florida’s freshman defender Hope Kissisk was tasked with faceguarding D’Amore, but D’Amore soon broke free to score the first goal of the game off an assist from Jen Cook to show that she can exploit the faceguard to her advantage.

“That’s something that we’ve worked on for the past three years,” said Hopkins coach Janine Tucker. “She was setting a lot of picks and coming off a lot of picks that were set for her. We work a lot on how to beat a faceguard, and as Taylor showed you with the amount of points she had today, she does it very well.”

D’Amore and Sarah Taylor notched one goal each to give the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead before Florida’s Carly Ross responded with an unassisted goal to get her team on the board.

Eight minutes later, Florida’s Lauren Lea passed to Devon Schneider who scored to tie the game up at 2-2.

D’Amore took charge once again, sinking two more goals in the back of the net to command her team to a 4-2 lead at halftime.

“In the first half, we all came out really slow and sluggish,” said Gilroy. “Anytime you play away, it’s really hard, especially when you come to Hopkins. We got disciplined at halftime, got out of our own heads and were able to persevere.”

Kicking off the second half, the Gators amped up the pace of the game with a quick goal from Gilroy at the 29:01 mark. D’Amore then responded with her fourth and final goal of the game as Hopkins took a 5-3 lead.

However, D’Amore wasn’t done for the game. She continued to assist her teammates.

“We thought that once we shut off Taylor, we were pretty good enough to stop everyone else because Taylor’s a great player,” Gilroy described. “She does it all. She has so many assists, so many goals. Our main focus was on her.”

Each team went on to score one goal each – an unassisted shot from Florida’s Sam Darcangelo and a goal by Hopkins’ Cook fed by D’Amore – giving the Blue Jays its last two-goal lead of the game at 6-4.

After forcing the Blue Jays to take a timeout to reevaluate their game plan, Florida’s Gilroy stepped in to tie the game up for the first time in the second half with two unassisted goals within two minutes of each other. Those goals earned Gilroy a hat trick for the game, but she quickly surpassed it.

Gilroy tallied three consecutive goals to give her team the first lead of the game, after Hopkins’ Sammy Cermack scored off D’Amore’s second assist of the day.

With Florida now leading 9-7, Hopkins threw double and triple teams left and right. After winning a crucial draw, Cermack got her second goal of the game bringing the score within one.

However, Gilroy jumped the Blue Jays’ deficit to two, scoring her seventh goal on an open net with 1:10 remaining to play. Hopkins’ freshman goalie Caroline Federico, who was subbed in for starter KC Emerson after Gilroy’s fourth goal at 13:37, had left her crease for added defensive pressure.

Earning a man-up opportunity after Gators’ Taylor Bresnahan received a yellow card on the draw, D’Amore boosted her team’s momentum with a swift pass inside to sophomore Maddy Aldave who scored with 58 seconds left on the clock.

Gilroy won the ensuing draw and was encountered with triple teams from Hopkins’ defense because Federico was no longer on the field.  

“When they pulled their goalie, we started to get a little nervous because they are now able to double the ball and lock on everyone else,” O’Leary described. “So we said, ‘If the ball gets in Shannon’s hands, let’s go.’ That may have been a little premature looking back.”

Hopkins was able to check the ball out of the Gators’ sticks with about 10 seconds left. The Blue Jays immediately called a timeout, but the clock read 4.2 seconds. Hopkins’ coaches tried to argue for more time, but the officials ruled the time is called when they blew their whistle, not when the horn sounded for a timeout.

Just inside the midfield line, D’Amore chucked the ball downfield, but the Blue Jays weren’t able to retrieve it.

The Gators 10-9 win handed Hopkins its second loss after the Blue Jays’ had a record-best 10-0 start to the season. Their first loss came from unranked Vanderbilt, another one-goal game.

“Two losses to two really good teams,” Tucker explained. “It’s very challenging to maintain that [lead] and that’s what we were trying to do all along. We’ve just shown them that we can play with anybody in the country.”

O’Leary admitted Hopkins deployed a better game plan, but the Gators still managed to take home another victory, improving to 13-2 for the season.

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