An All-Metro midfielder and Anne Arundel County Player of the Year for the 20-0 Class 4A-3A state champion Falcons last year as a junior, Gardner is looking to close out her high school career in style.
Gardner scored four of her 50 goals in the 13-9 victory over Dulaney in the state final.
Her outstanding, instinctive dodging ability baffles opposing defenders and drew attention of such colleges as Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Maryland, to mention a few.
She has accepted a lacrosse scholarship to Virginia, although she also has been a standout in field hockey and indoor track.
Gardner, who is part of a long list of family members who played at Severna Park, including her mother and father, was an All-County defender and second-team All-Metro choice last fall on the Falcons' 4A state champion field hockey team.
Coming off a stress fracture to her right foot that occurred in the summer, Gardner got a slow start in the fall. Taking her doctor's advice to rest, she did not run indoor track after winning the county 800 meters two straight years.
She has a 3.8 grade point average, 1600 SAT score and is ranked in the top 20 percent of her senior class of 460.
What are your goals for this lacrosse season?
Obviously, we hope to win another state championship, and that would be really special for all the seniors. But we have to win the county and regional playoffs first. We didn't lose too many players, so we can definitely do it again.
Who do you think will be your biggest competition?
Broadneck, South River, Arundel, those are the teams. Broadneck is our biggest rival in the county. Outside the county, we play St. Mary's in a couple of weeks and they are pretty good.
What was it like winning the state championship last year?
It was great because we had lost to Dulaney by two goals the year before and got to play them again last year in the final. My sophomore year was special because I got to play with my sister, Tara, who is a sophomore at Loyola College now.
What's it like knowing this is your final high school sports season?
It's really exciting, but yet it's weird being a senior after always being one of the younger players. I know I'm going to miss it.
How did you choose Virginia over so many good schools interested in you?
I narrowed it down to my top three - UVA, North Carolina and Maryland. Once I visited Virginia, saw the campus and all, it just felt right for me. So, I decided to commit and not even visit the others. And it's good that two of my good friends are also going to Virginia in Josie Owen [Severn] and Caroline Cochran [St. Mary's]. We played for Baylax together.
When did UVA notice you and get interested?
Over Memorial Day weekend at the National School Girls tournament [in Massachusetts]. Kathy Jenkins is a coach [at St. Stephens/St Agnes in Alexandria, Va.] who said some good things about me.
What do you think you need to work on for the next level?
In college, the game is faster and more physical, so, I need to work hard on staying in shape. I want to improve my stick skills and intensity.
Do you look up to anybody?
Yes, people like our assistant coach Kate Hickman. She graduated from Severna Park five years ago and has come back to coach with Carin Peterson. Kate baby-sat me when I was younger, and she and some of the older girls have come back.
How has the high school experience been for you?
It's been so much fun, and I'm still enjoying it. It's fun to play sports in high school with all of your friends you grew up with. We're a close-knit group.
What do you like to do with your friends?
We hang out, go to the movies, and there are a couple local bands, like Stockyard, we go to the Manhattan Beach Club to listen to. I like all kinds of music from oldies to hip-hop.
What else do you like to do?
I enjoy reading, read a lot and it seems a lot of my friends are into reading this year. One of my favorite books is The Kite Runner, and I also like Jody Picoult who wrote 19 Minutes. I also like reading newspapers during the season.
What are your future goals?
I have no clue about a major academically, but I hope to make the U.S. team in college or after college. I hope to get to try out.