Shannon Gilroy scored a Long Island-high 113 goals last season...

Shannon Gilroy scored a Long Island-high 113 goals last season but her coach says she's just scratching the surface. (Mar. 27, 2010) Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

Shannon Gilroy is a ferocious fraidy cat. Standing amid two reporters and West Islip boys lacrosse standout Nicky Galasso, the only time the admittedly shy Gilroy made a peep was when asked if she had met Tim Tebow on a college recruiting visit to the University of Florida.

"Yeah, I got to meet him," the Northport junior said.

Yeah, no big deal. Tebow is only a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and one of the most recognizable athletes in America.

Forgive "The Franchise'' - that's what Gilroy's teammates call her - if she isn't forthcoming. She saves her fervor for the field.

Gilroy scored a Long Island-high 113 goals last season and was the only sophomore from the Island named first team All-American. Easily the most intimidating presence in every game she plays, Gilroy is just scratching the surface, according to Northport coach Carol Rose.

"She got bigger, got taller, got stronger. She's a one-woman wrecking crew," Rose said. "They call her 'The Franchise' and she's living up to that."

Nine goals and five assists in a 26-9 season-opening win at Smithtown West, and 10 more goals (tying a school record) in a 21-9 victory over North Babylon, certainly affirmed Gilroy's status.

But she knows franchise players deliver championships. She acknowledged it's hard to believe Northport has never won a state title in its illustrious history with countless All-Americans. She'd like the 2010 team to be the first.

"This year, our motto is 'dream big,' " she said. "We've just got to find a way to get over the hump."

Consider Farmingdale that roadblock. Three of the last four years, the Dalers have ended Northport's season in the Long Island Class A final, including a double-overtime affair in 2008 and a 13-12 decision last season - Northport's only loss.

"We want to go to states," Gilroy said in her most forceful voice. "It's hard when you don't get that far. Our team comes out to play. It's all about your will to win."

Gilroy may be timid in social settings, but give her the ball in crunchtime and she'll fling all fear out the window. Down one to West Islip in last year's county final, Gilroy tied the score with 31.6 seconds left on a hard shot while falling down. She scored the winner with 13.8 seconds to play. It was her eighth goal of the game.

And she's better this year? Yes, even the competition's taking notice.

"I'm scared of her," said West Babylon senior Alyssa Murray, who is a year older than Gilroy, taller and the only other returning All-Long Island player.

But she works out with Gilroy. "She's an animal," Murray added. "She is all muscle. She can definitely beat me up."

Gilroy, of course, disagreed, but even her former Northport and soon-to-be Florida teammate Katie Ciaci, a two-time high school All-American defender, doesn't want any part of guarding her.

"That's one of the girls you want to play with and not against," she said.

And Ciaci believes in Gilroy's leadership qualities, as she was part of the 2009 squad that elected Gilroy a captain at the end of last season. Said Rose: "It made her more vocal."

"Around teammates, the real me comes out," Gilroy insists. "Especially when I'm competing because I always want to win."

Gilroy showed decisiveness in her college decision, committing to Florida with two high school seasons remaining.

"The kid's happy as a clown," Rose said of Gilroy's college choice. "It's a place where she can shine."

While Gilroy's star shines bright at Northport, she is hoping her team can shine later this spring in Cortland for the state tournament.

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