Gavin continues to make her mark at Loyola

May 04, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

When Grace Gavin arrived at Loyola, she knew nothing about the Greyhounds' legacy as one of the most successful programs in Division I women's lacrosse. Now, she's a permanent part of that history.

Last Saturday, on Senior Day at the Ridley Athletic Complex, the St. Paul's graduate set a school record for career points with 293, surpassing Stacey Morlang's mark of 288 set in 2002.

Gavin's nine points in that 17-10 win over Connecticut was a career high. Five goals boosted her total to 217, just six shy of Loyola's longest-standing individual record — Janet Eisenhut's 223 career goals, dating back to 1983. A Tewaaraton Trophy nominee, Gavin Wednesday was named Big East Attacker of the Year for a second straight time.

Averaging 3.7 goals this spring, Gavin could break Eisenhut's record in the Big East tournament, where the No. 8 Greyhounds will try to avenge last week's 10-9 loss to No. 15 Syracuse in Thursday night's semifinals at Georgetown.

As Gavin contemplates the impending close of her college career, she is happy to leave her mark on a program she has come to love for all it has been and all it has given her.

"I'm really happy to put my name in Loyola's record books just so I have a lasting piece of myself here, because the program means a lot to mem" she said. "I'd like to be a part of it even after I leave."

Off the field, Gavin, 21, is pretty low key. She's an artistic soul who loves to draw but had to drop her art minor because she didn't have the time to devote to studio sessions. She majored in advertising and her creativity carries over to the kitchen, where she loves to cook, and to the lacrosse field, where she can create from just about any ingredients she's handed.

"Some people just have that special shooting ability. How she can get a shot off or make something out of nothing and find a way to score, that's just a special gift," said Notre Dame coach Tracy Coyne.

When Gavin arrived at Loyola, she had no idea that a program with seven final four appearances was stumbling. The Greyhounds were 2-14 the year before — the third in what would be a string of four losing seasons after 15 straight winners.

"My dad was going to all the games the year before I got here and he was like, 'They're losing a lot,'" Gavin said. "I thought, 'That stinks,' but I wasn't really worried about it. I didn't realize. Now all I want is that national trophy. I want a national championship."

Loyola coach Jen Adams said Gavin's competitive drive takes over on the field.

"You could be off the field and most people would look at her and say this doesn't mean that much to her," Adams said, "but you get her on a field and in a Loyola uniform and that'll change your mind very quickly. It means the world to her."

In high school, Gavin never considered Loyola until her parents suggested she have a look at the campus. Once there, she loved it and committed two weeks later. It was a fortuitous decision.

A year after Gavin arrived, Loyola hired Adams, a three-time National Player Of The Year at Maryland from 1999 to 2001 and the NCAA Division I all-time points leader, to rejuvenate the program.

Gavin blossomed under Adams' tutelage and that of assistant coaches Dana Dobbie and Katie Chrest, both former college All-Americans.

"The first time out in practice that I saw Grace," Adams said, "my thoughts were this kid has no idea how good she is and she has no idea the potential of what she could do. Throughout the year, we spent a lot of time trying to develop her and her confidence to be that person on the field and not wait until her senior year."

Gavin soaked it up.

"[Adams] taught me a lot about faking, which I didn't do very much my freshman year," Gavin said. "I'm not the fanciest player. I don't do the behind-the-backs and the crazy trick shots, but I've learned a lot about just moving the goalie and not walking right where I'm going to shoot."

Gavin said her game also improved a great deal when she learned to protect her stick after a dodge and to re-defend. For the past three years, she has been a first-team All-Big East pick.

Her prolific scoring has drawn more defensive attention this spring, including some face guards. Still, she's managed to score 59 goals and dish out 21 assists for more than twice as many points as anyone else on the team.

"I've never been on a team with somebody who can get to goal as easily as Grace can," teammate Caroline Hager said. "She works so hard to get open and she's just a powerhouse."

Coyne said face guarding is futile against Gavin.

"I think she's one of those players that you really can't face guard and take out," Coyne said. "You can limit her, but she's going to get a certain amount of points. Great players are going to get a certain number of points. That's just how it is."

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