Skilton utilizes international experience to produce as Syracuse’s top scorer

first_img Published on September 11, 2014 at 12:10 am Contact Liam: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Phil Wheddon often encourages his players to play internationally in hopes that they’ll return to Syracuse ready to embrace a larger role.In the case of Stephanie Skilton, who played in the FIFA U-20 World Cup with New Zealand this past summer, those expectations are heightened. Last season as a freshman, Skilton led Syracuse in both goals with nine and points with 19.And she’s picked up where she left off.Through only six games, Skilton has scored five goals and recorded 11 points, well on her way to surpassing her totals from last season. After SU’s home game against Connecticut on Sept. 1, the Orange began a seven-game road swing. Syracuse’s next road tilt will be on Thursday against Colgate (3-1-1) at 7 p.m. in Hamilton, New York, and the sophomore forward plans to continue utilizing her international experience to produce results.“I don’t really feel like I get nervous for games anymore because I’ve got that experience,” Skilton said. “Being on the world stage and playing on that high level is going to mean so much to be able to bring it out on the field here.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs the starting center forward for New Zealand, Skilton helped her home country reach the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup — which were held in Canada — for the first time in history. She scored two goals in four games for the team before it eventually fell to Nigeria on Aug. 17.Wheddon said that gaining international experience and playing against some of the best players in the world shows that Skilton can compete with anyone.“I challenged her to take on a more vocal leadership role,” said Wheddon. “Sometimes when you come back from an international experience, sometimes it can be a step down and you get frustrated with the level of play. But Steph hasn’t done that.“She’s been great helping the other players.”Skilton feels more confident talking with her teammates this year, both on and off the field. The team is working on its cohesion and being clinical in receiving and scoring the ball in front of the goal, all of which rely heavily on communication.The summer playing against the world’s best only helped further develop her skills and increase her confidence. Wheddon believes that Skilton is doing a good job using her increased sense of confidence passing on those skills, which include reading pressure and knowing where to go with her first touch on the ball.Not only has she helped other members of the team improve, but also improved as an individual player.“Steph’s always been good at scoring goals, but she’s gotten even better,” sophomore defender Maddie Iozzi said. “It’s huge to have her back. We need goal scorers and she’s a big part of that. Even if she’s not part of the goal scoring, she’s usually a big part of the play that leads to them.”Skilton believes the experience with New Zealand this summer was similar to playing in the United States. The main difference is that collegiate American soccer is slower than international play.But Skilton isn’t going to let a slower tempo stop her.“It doesn’t matter where you are,” Skilton said. “You just have to play to win the game.” Commentslast_img read more