Although the Blue Devil depth chart has already taken several hits due to injuries, head coach Robbie Church will have an extra leader on the sidelines to look to this season.
After tearing her ACL this spring, Gilda Doria knew that she would no longer able to play her senior season in 2013, but that did not stop her teammates from voting her one of Duke’s three team captains.
“We’re going to miss her a great deal, there’s no question about it,” Church said. “But she has thrown herself into this from the very beginning. ‘How can I help the team? How can I make the team better? What roles can I fill?’”
A pivotal player in Duke’s midfield, the 5-foot-7 Doria had not missed a game since arriving on campus as a freshman. Before missing the Blue Devils’ season-opening victory against No. 12 Texas A&M Friday, Doria had appeared in all 73 games of her career, making 54 starts.
As a junior, she notched six goals and finished 13th nationally with 11 assists, but Church believes her impact on the team goes beyond the box score.
“Gilda is one of those players that sometimes gets overlooked by everyone but the coaches and the players in the sense that she doesn’t get some of the accolades that some of our other players [do],” Church said. “But, she is the glue that held us together.”
Doria has continued to bring the team together even from her spot on the sidelines this fall. As the Blue Devils have gone through training camp in preparation for the season, Doria has kept busy helping the team in various ways.
“Whether it’s making ice bags or putting together the pregame videos for our team or motivating players on the field, I’ve kind of taken a whatever-it-takes mentality,” she said.
The senior captain has made a particular impact through her interactions with the new players.
In her three seasons on the field, Doria earned the respect of her teammates and played an important role in orchestrating the offense through the midfield along with seniors Kaitlyn Kerr and Mollie Pathman.
Her teammates felt confident enough in her abilities to vote her captain after they knew she would not be able to return to the field at all in the fall.
“Gilda is such an inspiration to all of us,” Pathman said. “She’s a constant voice on and off the field…. Even though she’s not going to be on the field, her presence is always there.”
In practice, Doria has served as an extra set of eyes for the coaching staff, keeping a close watch on her teammates and offering them advice to improve.
Church said the younger players have benefited from the opportunities they have had to learn from the sidelined captain when she has pulled them aside.
“She’s got a great soccer sense and she’s been able to relay that to the whole team,” he said. “She’s not scared of going up and telling, ‘Hey, you’re not working hard enough. You’ve got to work harder on this team.’”
As Doria has learned how to serve the Blue Devils as a leader despite her injury, she has also picked up on a few things she did not notice from being on the field.
“I don’t think I ever really appreciated as much as I have now how hard we work and how talented we really are,” she said.
The midfielder, who said she could be able to run by October either this month or next, will also have the opportunity to use her new perspective. Doria said she will use her fifth year of eligibility and return as a redshirt senior in 2014.
“This is only going to make her game grow when she comes back next year,” Church said.