Last updated: September 24. 2013 2:49AM - 1413 Views
BILL ARSENAULT For The Times Leader



Devon Gagliardi, shown playing in a game against Princeton, returned for a fifth year to lead ninth-ranked Duke.
Devon Gagliardi, shown playing in a game against Princeton, returned for a fifth year to lead ninth-ranked Duke.
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The Duke University field hockey team is getting “something extra” from Devon Gagliardi.


Gagliardi, from Wilkes-Barre (Wyoming Seminary), has returned to the Blue Devils this season as a red-shirt senior.


“The team is so fortunate to have Devon for her fifth year,” coach Pam Bustin said. “She has embraced this ‘extra’ year and has thoroughly immersed herself into the team training and towards creating our Duke True vibe. Her love to play – and win – is contagious and remains one of her most significant contributions. Her role is vital and the staff and her teammates have the utmost trust in her abilities and focus.”


The 5-foot-2 midfielder has scored 17 goals in 65 games but has picked up just an assist in the early going for the 5-2 Blue Devils. In 2011, she had four game-winners.


“Devon’s wisdom regarding our hockey, our program’s growth and our competition is essential to our success this fall,” Bustin said. “If you want to see an athlete ‘dig deep’, come watch Devon Gagliardi.”


The No. 9-ranked Blue Devils have a big test Friday when they travel to Chapel Hill to face No. 1-ranked North Carolina.


SKUDALSKI CONTINUES TO LEAD – Lauren Skudalski is a key performer on the Columbia field hockey team. The junior back from Wyoming (Wyoming Seminary) has helped the Lions get off to a 3-3 start with a 4-1 victory over Brown in the Ivy League opener and a 3-1 non-league loss to Richmond this past weekend.


Skudalski picked up her first career point with an assist in the season-opening 5-0 triumph over Longood. She also has three defensive saves. She had four defensive saves as a freshman.


“Lauren was a leader as soon as she stepped onto the field the first day she got here,” coach Marybeth Freeman said. “She is a natural competitor and when you couple that with perseverance, only positive things come.”


The coach feels that Skudalski’s game has been elevated since last season.


“She’s like a sponge when it comes to learning and executing the skills that are asked of her,” Freeman said. “She also excels in the classroom and in the Columbia community. This team, program and college are fortunate to have someone like her represent us.”


A MOVE FOR SUCHOSKI – Junior Brian Suchoski (Coughlin) played in 33 games with 31 starts at forward his first two seasons with the Lehigh men’s soccer team but this season, coach Dean Koski has different plans for him.


“Brian is at a point in his career where we’re moving him into a role that’s going to be different than just being a forward,” the coach said. “He’s playing on both sides of the field and we think he’s going to develop into a very good two-way player which is what we need the next two years.”


The coach is excited about Suchoski’s continued development.


“Brian has done really well as a student-athlete at Lehigh,” Koski said. “We couldn’t be happier with his contributions both on and off the field.”


The Mountain Hawks are 1-4-1 in the early going and Suchoski is still looking for his first point. He entered this season with four career goals, including a game-winner, and an assist.


BARANKO GETTING BETTER – As a freshman, Megan Baranko (Hazleton Area) finished the season with 83 kills and 26 blocks for the Greensboro College women’s volleyball team. This season as a sophomore, she already has 98 kills and leads the team with 19 blocks. She also has 35 digs and 14 service aces.


“Megan gives all that she can give and is always excited to learn new things,” coach Sha McDuffie said. “She is always a team player in any practice drill or match we play, but this season, she’s done a great job of stepping into more of a leadership role and has become one of our key players on offense as well.”


The Pride is 6-8 overall and 2-1 in USA South play.


“We’re happy to have Megan as part of our volleyball program,” McDuffie said.


JECKELL’S A BATTLER – The St. Francis, Pa. women’s volleyball team is 0-13 to start the season but junior Kayla Jeckell (Crestwood) is giving it all she’s got for the Red Flash. The 5-foot-11 middle hitter is second on the team in kills (97) and blocks (16), tied for third in digs (77) and has eight service aces. She has scored 113 points.


“Kayla continues to improve and works hard at it,” coach Chuck Mullen said. “She is counted on to be a high end point scorer and she has embraced that role and is working to become everything that we are asking her to become.”


The coach likes Jeckell’s work ethic despite the losing record.


“Through it all, Kayla has a great attitude towards trying to make us successful,” Mullen said.


BULL’S A LEADER – Gettysburg senior Alex Bull (Berwick) is one of the top performers on the Gettyburg women’s cross country team. And, she’s also a co-captain for the Bullets who are ranked sixth in the region in Division III.


On the track, Bull has finished fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth in the team’s first four races. The fourth came in a field of 123 at the Delaware Invitational when she posted a 6k time of 24:22.


“Alex is dedicated and committed to the sport and to the team,” coach Aubrey Shenk said. “She’s someone who leads by example and her teammates listen and follow. She sets the tone for practice and meets and she’s had four good races thus far and will have an outstanding season.”


Bull’s sister, sophomore Abby, also runs for the Bullets and finished 33rd in two races – the Little Three meet and last weekend’s Messiah Invitational.


BANOS SHOWS IMPROVEMENT – Junior Chrissy Banos is having a solid season with the DeSales women’s volleyball team. Banos (Crestwood), a 6-foot middle hitter, leads the team in blocks (34), is third in points (109.5), tied for third in service aces (14) and has 77 kills and 23 digs. She had 12 kills against Moravian and five blocks against Rochester Tech, both team highs.


“Chrissy has been a very important part of the team,” coach Michele Zabinski said. “Her technique has improved drastically since her freshman year. She has turned into a leader both on and off the court.”


The coach also admires Banos’ work ethic.


“Chrissy is constantly striving to become a better volleyball player and continues to push herself 110 percent at every practice, workout and match. We wouldn’t be the same team without her.”


The Bulldogs are 9-8 on the season.


BEST SCORE FOR DEREMER – Junior Donny DeRemer (Holy Redeemer) kicked off the fall season with the Susquehanna men’s golf team by recording his best round as a collegian – a five-over-par 77 to tie for 16th at the Gettysburg Fall Invitational. He followed that up by shooting a 161 (78-83) at last weekend’s Empire 8 Conference Fall Championship in Elmira, N.Y


“Donny’s game has improved significantly since last year,” coach Buddy Yarger said. “He is a very polite and understanding guy that loves the game of golf and he’s a very dedicated and talented player.”


The Crusaders host the Susquehanna Invitational Sunday in Selinsgrove.


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