Alyssa Gagliardi hailed from Raleigh, North Carolina. While few players come from North Carolina, Gagliardi did play in a more well-known hockey area: Shattuck St. Mary's high school where she helped led her team to a national championship. Gagliardi entered Cornell as a freshman in the 2010-11 season, when Cornell looked to defend its first ever ECAC championship. Gagliardi came in as a touted defenseman and managed to contribute to the team both behind the blue line and on the scoresheet. Her freshman year saw her score one goal and 18 assists to help the team toward their second consecutive ECAC Championship. As a sophomore, Gagliardi's physical presence became more apparent. She contributed just as much to the scoresheet, with 5 goals and 16 assists, but her presence on the ice was apparent. Gagliardi was a key shot-blocker for the Big Red, something not often seen in women's hockey, as well as one who wasn't afraid to stand up to the physicality of other teams. Coach Derraugh named her the unsung hero of the 2011-12 season due to her physical game, in particular her incredible shot-blocking ways. As a junior, Gagliardi helped lead the women to their third ECAC championship. She served as alternate captain and her leadership was apparent. In addition to being an incredible shot-blocker and checker, Gagliardi stepped up into whichever role she was needed. During the time when several women's players went to compete for the 4 Nations Cup, Cornell was short on players, forwards in particular. Gagliardi showed her versatility by playing forward in a few games during that time. Back on her native defense, she was even more impressive. Scoring five goals for the second season in a row, she managed to make the goals count. Two of the five were game-winning goals. Her passion bleeds through in everything that she does both on and off the ice.
What to Expect
This season is going to be an important one for Cornell, in particular its defensive corps. After losing two key defensemen, Laura Fortino and Lauriane Rougeau, the upperclassmen will need to step up to show the younger defensemen what it takes to be a Cornell defenseman. Alyssa Gagliardi has already begun to do so. Co-captain of the team, Gagliardi has seen time in over 100 games thus far. She is a dominant physical presence on the ice, but also manages to have an incredible scoring touch. Her leadership will be key when it comes to keeping the team motivated, both on and off the ice. In her last two seasons, Gagliardi has tested the waters in terms of physical play. When a penalty is needed to stop the other team, she does not hesitate in doing what is needed for her team. She will need to continue to walk the line between necessary and unnecessary penalties this season, and continue to be a strong defensive presence for the squad. She is more than capable of leading the Big Red, in particular the defensive corps.
A Look Back
The number two has been worn 10 times before Alyssa Gagliardi donned the sweater, starting with Barb Sherbon in 1977 and last worn by Melanie Jue in 2008. The player that we are highlighting here wore the number two from 1994-98. Leanna House shares many characteristics with Alyssa Gagliardi. House played defense for her four years on the team. She also helped lead the team to an Ivy League title in 1996, the last one Cornell garnered before the 2010 season. House was a native of Ithaca, NY, going to Ithaca High School and playing in the area before attending Cornell. House also managed to complete a degree and go on to be successful off the ice. Leanna House currently is a professor at Virginia Tech for biometry and statistics. Cornell women's hockey turns out both great players and great people, and will continue to do so in the future.