Last updated: February 17. 2013 1:49AM - 29 Views

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How much does Devon Gagliardi put into her field hockey career? One look should tell you all you need to know.

On her right leg is the captain's band, as the junior was chosen as Duke's on-field leader in a vote by her teammates before the season.

"To have 18 girls behind me, to have this is such an honor," Gagliardi said.

Her left leg sports a large, black brace that wraps around her knee -- a joint that has had its fair share of doctor visits.

"Here's a kid who was never hurt in high school playing field hockey," said Gagliardi's high school coach, Karen Klassner of Wyoming Seminary. "And in her senior year, she tears her ACL playing soccer."

The work on her anterior cruciate ligament cost Gagliardi her freshman season, leading her to redshirt. Devoted to her studies, she earned Academic All-America honors after posting the best GPA among the Blue Devils.

She's since worked her way back onto the field, with a few more doctor visits along the way.

"I've had four surgeries since my senior year of high school," Gagliardi said. "I had ACL surgery coming into my freshman year and then two scar tissue removals. Then, last season my medial meniscus ruptured (at the time, she admits, she didn't know what the injury was) and I had another surgery. I was out four months.

"It's definitely been tough mentally, but the end result of being back on the field is what kept me going."

Fortunately, Gagliardi is enjoying all that Duke -- and The Triangle region of North Carolina-- have to offer.

"I love it. I love the weather. I love the people," Gagliardi said. "I'm playing in the ACC. You've got to play the best to be the best, right? I love everything about Duke."

The three-time All-American from her days at Sem even speaks the language. Well, just a little bit.

"Y'all," she said when asked the range of her Southern vocabulary. "Duke is more Northeast people, while UNC is more Southern people. No matter where you are, though, there is Southern hospitality. You hear about it and wonder what it is. There really is Southern hospitality -- everyone is so nice everywhere you go."

Despite missing a big chunk of the offseason, the ball-hawking forward is still able to split defenders, or spin past one to get a shot on goal.

In eight games this season, Gagliardi has three goals and one assist for the No. 19 Blue Devils. The junior had her first career two-goal game Sept. 2 against Longwood.

She has 13 goals and seven assists in her career at Duke.

RELOADING: Dallas might have just one senior on its roster, but that doesn't mean the Mountaineers are in rebuilding mode.

A number of attack players are back, and at 4-2, Dallas is in the mix in Division 1.

"We have a whole new defensive line," coach Kylie Rosengrant said after a 2-0 loss to Crestwood. "I'm proud of the defense all around, not just inside the circle. The girls have set the bar pretty high. I'm very proud of them."

Six games in with a new goalie (Lily Amadio), Dallas has allowed just eight goals. Defensive players include Cortlyn Van Deutsch, Emma Niznik, Morgan Morris and Abby Downs.

CHARITY GAME: Pittston Area and Wyoming Area will play a charity game Sunday at 2 p.m. in Hughestown.

Admission is $3 and all proceeds will go toward eating disorders awareness. There will be a number of events throughout the day, including a raffle, Chinese auction and class showdown.

NATIONAL DAY: National Field Hockey Day was Saturday, but there were no games on the local slate.

A couple of fun facts about the game from USA Field Hockey include …

• Pennsylvania is the state with the most field hockey players in the country.

• Field hockey was third among events in number of spectators at the London Olympics.

• Field hockey sends more athletes to college with scholarships proportionately than any other sport.

STATS: Look for Wyoming Valley Conference statistical leaders each Monday.

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