Women's Soccer

Sheridan Street finds niche at center attacking midfielder for Syracuse

Tony D. Curtis | Staff Photographer

Sheridan Street was moved from forward to center attacking midfielder this season. While she struggled at first, Street has picked up her play as the season has progressed.

On a warm offseason practice in the spring, outside forward Sheridan Street received a through ball from a teammate and blasted it into the net. Street was coming off a successful sophomore season in which she notched three goals in seven starts for the Orange.

But suddenly, new assistant coach Kelly Lawrence blew the whistle and called street over.

“Sheridan, I think you’d play better in the midfield than on the outside,” Lawrence told her.

The comment shocked Street. She had spent her career at Syracuse as an outside forward. She was accustomed to being solely a goal-scorer, and now her new assistant coach thought she’d play better as a midfielder.

Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon agreed with Lawrence. He felt that Street’s skillset, which had morphed into being technically cleaner, was more suited for the center attacking midfielder position.

The decision was made. Street, a natural goal-scorer, has been forced to morph into a facilitator and organizer at center attacking midfielder. Despite a gradual transition taking the summer and part of the 2016 season, Street has grown into what Wheddon calls “a catalyst on the attack.”

“It’s ultimately about putting players in the positions where they will succeed,” Wheddon said. “We have a lot of depth at the wide forwards and not as much in the midfield.”

Street had from the spring to the fall to transition into a center attacking midfielder, a position she had never embraced in the past. She also transitioned while playing for her club team this summer. Her club coach allowed Street to switch positions to properly prepare for the Orange’s season.

But she ran into multiple problems while adjusting. Street felt uncomfortable not being present on the defensive line. She has a keen, natural sense of placing herself in scoring positions. Now, as a midfielder, she’s been forced to restrain herself from joining the front of an attack. Street didn’t shoot nearly as much as she had in the past, which frustrated her.

Playing center attacking midfielder requires a wide vision of the field and quickly distributing the ball on the attack. Those qualities weren’t Street’s forte.

“Understanding the different runs was very hard for me,” Street said. “I would often find myself in a wide space. I was playing like an extremely wide midfielder. My spatial awareness on the field was an issue for me throughout the summer.”

Her struggles at the position persisted when she returned to Syracuse in the fall. Street had started seven games for the Orange in 2015. Despite starting SU’s first two games in 2016, Street moved to the bench on Aug. 28 against Albany and was used as a late-game substitution.

Street insisted she gradually transitioned instead of breaking through in a single moment. But Stephanie Skilton, Opal Curless and Carolin Bader bolstered her transition by helping her figure out her position through chatter during games and practices.

“Not just regular game talk though,” Street said. “They would say, ‘Sher, I need you here, I need you there.’ That really helped me transition.”

When Syracuse played Buffalo on Sept. 15, Street finally returned to the starting lineup. In the 63rd minute, the Orange and the Bulls were scoreless. Street stood back as Curless fired an open shot on net. UB’s goalkeeper deflected the ball in Street’s direction.

Street had been trained to create opportunities, but she still had a knack for attacking. She sprinted toward the ball and blasted it into the net, giving the Orange its decisive goal in a 2-0 victory.

SU has scored only three goals through six games of ACC play. For the Orange to make the NCAA tournament, it’ll need Street to create more chances in its four remaining games.

“Her distribution, quickness in changing the point of attack, and texture of passes have improved dramatically,” Wheddon said. “She’s grown great at solving problems and escaping tough pressure. In the ACC, the midfield is where some of the most dangerous players play. So we’ve needed her there and she’s done great.”

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