Johns Hopkins' Taylor D'Amore and Florida's Shannon Gilroy are two of the nation's most dangerous attackers in women's lacrosse.
As a result, both had to deal with aggressively tight marking and even occasional face-guarding when their teams faced off in the American Lacrosse Conference matchup Saturday at Homewood Field. Nonetheless, D'Amore and Gilroy were able to create scoring chances, and each made the most of her opportunities.
In the end, Gilroy got the upper hand, scoring all seven of her goals in the second half as Florida overcame a halftime deficit to pull out a 10-9 victory. After opening the season with 10 consecutive wins, which broke the program's Division I record, the Blue Jays have lost two straight. It was sort of a homecoming for the Gators, who have 13 players from the state of Maryland.
"We have two losses to two really good teams," said Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker, whose team also lost to conference foe Vanderbilt last week. "Any of our ALC opponents are absolutely fantastic. To be honest with you, I think we're right on track. I'm really proud of where we are."
Sammy Cermack also had two goals for Johns Hopkins (10-2 overall, 1-2 ALC). The Gators (13-2, 4-0) have won five consecutive games after losing to No. 3 Syracuse on March 15.
Johns Hopkins led 4-2 at the break, but Gilroy, who leads the nation in scoring with 71 goals, cut the margin to one just 59 seconds into the second half. D'Amore responded for the Blue Jays one minute later for another two-goal cushion. The Gators, however, maintained the pressure, and a free-position goal by Sam Darcangelo (Maryvale) cut the margin to 5-4.
For the first time in the game, Johns Hopkins struggled with possession, forcing Tucker to call a timeout with 26:20 left. However, the seesaw battle continued. After Jen Cook (McDonogh) scored four minutes later for Johns Hopkins, Gilroy scored twice for Florida to tie the game, 6-6, with 20:11 remaining.
"We finished really well in the first half, but in the second half, we didn't have the ball as much," said D'Amore, who had four goals and three assists. "We had chances, but we just didn't capitalize. It's all stuff on us that's easy to fix. I think we're fine going forward."
After Florida's Caroline Fitzgerald was called for a foul with 18:01 remaining, Johns Hopkins took advantage of the man-up opportunity. A deft pass by D'Amore to Cermack gave the Blue Jays a 7-6 lead.
Gilroy's fourth goal on a free position knotted the score again four minutes later. And then her fifth and sixth goals gave Florida a 9-7 with 5:21 left. After Cermack pulled the Blue Jays to within a goal just over a minute later, Gilroy struck again with 1:10 remaining.
"I think they just came out really hard against us," Gilroy said. "We knew this was going to be a hard game. We were a little more composed in the second half. In the first half, I think they got in our heads a little bit. My teammates helped me a lot with their picks."
The Blue Jays got new hope when Maddy Aldave (St. Paul's) scored with 58 seconds left off a feed from D'Amore. Gilroy, however, won the ensuing draw and Florida was able to kill valuable seconds off the clock and seal the win.
Florida outshout Johns Hopkins 23-22, but the Blue Jays had more draw controls (12-9) and won the ground-ball battle (11-9).
Johns Hopkins took the early lead on a goals by D'Amore and Sarah Taylor with 17:49 left in the first half. The Gators finally got on the board five minutes later on a goal by Carly Ross (Maryvale). Florida struggled early with Johns Hopkins pressure and turned the ball over four times midway through the first half.
However, Florida adjusted by being more patient, and Devon Schneider tied the game with 4:16 remaining off a deft pass from Lauren Lea (Archbishop Spalding). D'Amore answered, scoring twice in the final 3:26, to provide the Blue Jays with a two-goal lead at the half.