By Mac Cerullo
Special to the Eagle-Tribune
STORRS, Conn. — Throughout her career, Cat Gross has been impossible to ignore.
On top of being an outstanding lacrosse player, the Andover native just doesn't stop. She doesn't stop running. She doesn't stop working. She doesn't stop trying.
So it shouldn't have been a surprise when the ex-Andover High ('09) star finally worked her way into the starting lineup for UConn.
Gross spent the first two years of her college career as a midfielder on the second line. Though it was a major adjustment at first, Gross embraced her role.
Now a junior playing attack — "attack" fits her personality perfectly — the hard work has paid off.
"She has found her place on attack," said UConn head coach Katie Woods. "It's worked for her in the last several weeks."
Gross's breakthrough came on April 7, when she was inserted into the starting lineup against Columbia and scored two goals. Woods said she had been tweaking the starting lineup to find the right fit, and had been impressed by the work Gross was putting in.
"It's more you earn it as you go," Woods said. "The performance in a game is great, but you have to show up on Monday to do the work."
Gross started every game thereafter. She finished with six goals for the 10-6 Huskies.
"I like to get the hustle plays. I really like draw controls and ground balls and stuff like that," said Gross, who scored 46 goals in 20 games as a senior, earning Eagle-Tribune All-Star honors. "I'm not really a big scorer, but here and there I can sometimes pull one out of (nowhere) and score."
Gross comes from a lacrosse family. Her older sister, Briana, was a three-year starter at Bates, where she scored 89 career goals. Her two younger siblings, senior attack Andrew and sophomore attack Louisa "Weezie" Gross, play for Andover. Weezie has 18 goals in 14 games and Andrew six in 12.
Gross understood when she first came to UConn that nothing would be handed to her.
"The best thing that I had is I didn't go in expecting to start," said Gross, who will be joined next year by current Andover star Ally Fazio. "I went in and I was saying, 'OK, this is just like high school, I'm a freshman all over again, I have to work for it.'"
Gross said that the biggest difference between the high school game and the college game is the speed of the game and the fact that everyone is completely dedicated to the sport. As a freshman, one of the biggest challenges initially was an intense preseason lifting regimen on top of practice and class.
"It was kind of a shock to come in, but we all survived," Gross said. "It was hell going through it but we stuck together."