#LMRanks: No. 5 Florida Gators (WD1)
|Junior Shannon Gilroy is a key returner in a team that graduated a ton of talent. (Matt Dunn)|
Previous: No. 6 Duke Blue Devils
2013 Record: 18-3 (4-1 ALC)
Coach: Mandee O'Leary (5th year)
Record at Florida: 18-3
Draw Control: 5
M Shannon Gilroy (Jr.)
The 5-foot-9 midfielder is the top returner in terms of points (65) and draw controls (59). Dominating possession will be key as the defense adjusts to a new goalie, and Gilroy can deliver them.
A Lauren Lea (So.)
Lea is thriving under Tumolo's tutelage, and will hopefully be able to ease the loss of Kitty Cullen.
NCAA Tournament Trend
2009 - DNQ (Program had not yet started)
2010 - DNQ
2011 - Quarters
2012 - Final Four
2013 - Quarters
Most of the starting line-up. Only three 2013 starters (Gilroy, Barry and DuPre) return.
Percent of the Gators' 2013 goals scored by Cullen, Dashiell, Ashley Bruns and Gabi Wiegand, all of whom have graduated.
Opposing coach thoughts on the Gators
"Graduated majority of their starting lineup but an athletic roster keeps the Gators in the top 10. Barry and Gilroy will lead the way for the young Gators."
"A lot of people are counting them out after losing a great senior class, but the cupboard is hardly bare. They play a fun style to watch and always have great fan support. Gilroy can dominate games single-handedly, but will need a strong supporting cast."
"Will be young but Shannon Gilroy on the draw will help them gain possession. Still fast, and fiery on the attack."
"The Gators said goodbye to undoubtedly one of the most impactful senior classes in the nation last season but the determination they left behind will not be lost by the underclassmen numbers they have on the roster."
"Despite having only a few seniors, several underclassmen are used to playing key roles and should be able to hold their own this season."
"Brings new meaning to the phrase 'hit hard by graduation.' Will be interesting to see which new players step up for the Gators and how they perform without the heralded Class of 2013. Shannon Gilroy is a good place to start."
"We shall see if they have enough returning talent to hang in the top 10 by the end of the year. "
"They have the speed, but will take a few steps back after graduating the first class. Gilroy will need others to step up to make another postseason run."
"Fast and they know how to use it."
"Lots of questions...with so many new faces, it will be interesting to see what they become. It's a whole new year and an entirely new team."
"Florida will be young, and will search for an identity early on. They will find it quickly."
"Programs like Florida don't go downhill after one year of graduation. They're similar to what happened to us where it was thought after that first class for us graduated that maybe there would be a drop off. Florida has recruited very well. Amanda (O'Leary) is an unreal recruiter, and I know they're going to do unbelievable things this year with Shannon Gilroy and that host of great players."
"I think they are going to be a team to beat. From the outside looking in, you would think they graduated a lot, they are not going to be very good, but they've gotten some fantastic recruits that are ready to step up. Even coming in as sort of an underdog I'm sure is going to fire them up more to come out and beat teams up."
"That's a tough place to play."
In a Nutshell: Florida was a talented team that picked bad moments to have bad games. The Gators crushed Northwestern, 22-4, in the regular season but then lost the ALC championship to the Wildcats. That loss gave Florida a lower-than-expected No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, which put them on a collision course with Syracuse. The Gators committed 13 turnovers against the Orange and were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the quarterfinal round. It was a step backwards for a team that made the 2012 semifinals, and for a program that has clear championship ambitions.
High Point: A 22-4 dismantling of Northwestern on Senior Day. The Gators gave the then-defending NCAA champs their worst loss since the varsity team was revived in 2002. Gilroy led Florida with five goals and two assists.
Low Point: A 16-11 loss to ALC rival Penn State on March 30. The Gators had a sluggish second half and dropped their first-ever game to the Nittany Lions in five meetings. The normally sharp Florida D allowed 10 goals in the second period.
Best Case: Freshmen acclimate quickly to NCAA play and Florida closes its ALC chapter with another conference crown. Gilroy establishes herself as the best midfielder in the country.
Worst Case: The talent is there but it doesn't coalesce quickly enough, and the Gators lose ground to the ever-improving Penn State program and squeak into the NCAA tournament with at-large bid.
Self Examination: O'Leary's comments on...
Nicole Graziano: Nicole really matured and came into her own. She's someone who we're going to look to fill some of those spots in that midfield.
Taylor Bresnahan: She came in and really surprised us, and got some quality playing time in the fall. She's someone who we might look at putting into that midfield.
Caroline Fitzgerald: That kid has gone above and beyond all of our expectations, especially as a freshman. She's somebody who we're going to look to step up there on attack and vie for a starting position. She is so tenacious and such a great athlete, really smart.