Cross Country, Lacrosse
Favorite athlete: Taylor Cummings
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning 2 SOL titles this year! (cross country & lacrosse)
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: I was referred to as "roadkill" in a photo of me on the ground during a game
Music on playlist: Lil Uzi Vert
Future plans: Study data science at University of Georgia
Words to live by: “Think before you speak”
One goal before turning 30: Get a dog
One thing people don’t know about me: I have a twin brother
By Craig Ostroff
You don’t need to look at the scorebook to see how important Alli Gay is to the Upper Dublin girls’ lacrosse team.
You just have to look at her arms and legs.
“Alli does all the little things that are so important, and she has the bruises to prove it,” said Cardinals’ coach Dee Cross. “Alli’s not the flashiest player, her stats aren’t off the charts, but she sets people up, she causes turnovers, she does all the little things you need to be successful and she gets it done on the field.”
Which is not to say that Gay doesn’t get her opportunities on the offensive end. Take, for example, the Cardinals’ regular season-ending 15-5 win over Cheltenham, in which Gay tied for team-lead with four goals and one assist.
“When I first started playing midfield I was a little more hesitant to go to goal,” Gay said. “As a senior I’ve been taking the ball to the goal myself a lot more than I was in the past. I used to be more tentative, I’ve been much better with it this year.”
“Alli had figured out how to be the person to start the offense, but now she also has the confidence to go to goal and score,” Cross said. “She’s very unselfish, she knows others can score, but if she can do it, she will.”
More than just a decisive regular season-ending victory, the win over Cheltenham also secured Upper Dublin a share of the SOL American Conference championship, the team’s first title since 2013. Record-wise, the Cardinals finished the 2023 season at 10-1 in league play, 14-5 overall; both the league and overall records were the team’s best in at least a decade.
“It was really exciting because the league title wasn’t even something I really thought about in the beginning of the season,” Gay said. “I knew we’d be pretty good and would have a good season, but I kind of assumed we’d finish with a record similar to last year. Just getting a share of the title, something the team hasn’t done in 10 years, I’m really proud of this team.”
The work that Gay has put in to excel at her position has been a hallmark of her efforts both on and off the field, and they’ve paid off not only in big goals and key assists (and lots of black-and-blue marks) but also as an example for her younger teammates to follow. The senior co-captain’s efforts have played a huge role in the team’s return to championship form.
“Alli being voted a co-captain is a testament to the girls seeing how valuable she is to the team,” Cross said. “The girls could see what kind of leader Allie is and what kind of leader she would be. This year, everyone knows their role, everyone is excited to be part of the team, and that starts with the seniors and co-captains.
“Alli is the perfect example of leading by example and a silent leader. She has a great lacrosse IQ. She’s always in the right place, constantly challenging up top and double-teaming and knowing when to dump the pass. She’s got a very calm, steady personality on the field.”
Gay relished the opportunity to take on the additional responsibilities of being a captain.
“I’ve been playing lacrosse a long time, and I worked hard during last season and the offseason, I really tried to step up and lead because I knew there would be a lot of new players this year,” she said. “This was definitely something I had been hoping my coaches and teammates would want me to do. It’s something I enjoy a lot.
“I try to lead mostly by example. I think that can be powerful, when you’re down in a game, I think seeing another person working hard and playing the game hard can encourage you more than someone yelling at you.”
But while she prefers to lead by example, her years of experience have helped Gay become more vocal on the field as well. And that was key this year as a defensive midfielder fronting a fairly young defense.
“Over the years, as I’ve gotten more confident in my own skills, I’ve gotten more comfortable in telling others what to do on the field,” she said. “We have some new girls on defense this year and they stepped up and learned very quickly. We’re all really close as a defensive unit, and talking is huge on defense, so I think talking more has become more natural for me out there.”
Gaining confidence in her skills came with plenty of hard work and teamwork. Having missed her freshman year due to an injury and the Covid-shortened schedule, Gay began her sophomore year playing defense, but was soon moved into the midfield.
“When Alli came to our preseason workouts her sophomore year, I could tell and the coaches could all tell she was a hard worker, she loved to play lacrosse, and she really takes it seriously. You can’t coach that,” Cross said. “As a defender, she was knowledgeable, she knew when to slide for the double, knew how to make her presence known. When she moved to midfield, she was so steady, she really took a liking to the role.”
Fitting into her new role was important to Gay, who didn’t simply want to occupy a spot because that’s where the coaches placed her. She wanted to show that she deserved to be there.
“I was moved into the midfield, but it was something I felt I really had to earn,” Gay said. “I wanted to prove that I should be there. And I knew I had to work harder to do that. I knew I couldn’t just start playing midfield and start scoring goals.
“A lot of it was shooting practice in the backyard. As a defender, you’re passing the ball off to someone. In the midfield, the thing I needed to work on was shooting and driving to goal, and to work with my teammates more on attack so I could get used to how they play and where they’re going to move. Seeing how the plays were run and where they move to, knowing where people were going to go, watching my teammates helped me a lot.”
Gay has suited up in several uniforms during her time at Upper Dublin. She played freshman basketball and participated in soccer her freshman and sophomore years. As a junior and senior, she spent her autumns as a member of the Cardinals’ cross country team.
“Cross country definitely is different, it’s so individualized,” Gay said. “Even though you have your teammates running with you who can give you that energy, it’s definitely more individualized, and it can be more rewarding in that you put in the hard work and that’s why you ran that fast that year.
“I always really liked long-distance running. Whenever we’d do sprints in practice, I didn’t like it, but I liked the couple-mile runs. My junior year I got cut in soccer, but I still wanted to do a sport in the fall, so it was the perfect time to try cross country. It was a super-welcoming team, it was really rewarding and super-fun. Even though getting cut from soccer was sad, everything worked out.”
Gay is involved in just as many organizations inside the school walls as she is on the athletic fields. She is a member of the Upper Dublin chapter of the National Honor Society, she is a member of Student Government, and she is part of the Key Club and Global Awareness Club.
That’s in addition to carrying a courseload that included five AP classes this year. There’s no slowing down for Gay, even with graduation looming less than a month away.
“It’s crazy how fast senior year went,” she said. “Everyone’s going to be going off to college.”
For Gay, that means heading south, where she will attend the University of Georgia’s Morehead Honors College, where she plans on studying data science.
“I’d always wanted to go south for the warmer weather, the people there are so nice,” Gay said. “Getting into the honors program pushed it over the edge for me. The honors program, the good research opportunities, it definitely made it a clear decision and when I visited the campus, I loved the city of Athens. I’m excited to go there.”
But graduation and heading to Georgia will also signal the end of her participation in a sport she’s played since she was in grade school. As bittersweet as that will be, Gay played her final season on the lacrosse field in a manner in which she could walk away with no regrets.
“I put a lot into this season,” she said. “It’s the last time I’m going to compete with these people and it has been super-fun and rewarding to compete at that level. I might look to play club lacrosse at Georgia, but they don’t have an NCAA team, so their club team is very competitive and I think I’m going to have a lot on my plate already. But I think this past season has been a good way to go out and end my career if that’s what happens.”
And while Georgia will gain an outstanding student, Upper Dublin will find itself with large shoes to fill.
“As far as our team, we are losing a true leader … I keep saying the word ‘leader’ when I talk about Alli,” Cross said. “She is the epitome of what you want as a teammate and as a leader. She’s kind, smart, driven … When something needs to get done, she steps up and does it. Georgia is getting a great student and someone who will get involved and will always do her best in everything she does.”