Stephanie Skilton’s home Syracuse career ends with a goal in 3-1 loss to North Carolina
Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer
Stephanie Skilton walked toward the bench, looking down with her hands behind her head. Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon put his hand on her head and patted her on the back.
In the last home game of her collegiate career, Skilton was disappointed with the outcome as she walked off the field at SU Soccer Stadium one final time.
Skilton’s goal against No. 18 North Carolina (10-3-3, 5-2-2 Atlantic Coast) wasn’t enough in Syracuse’s (8-7-3, 1-6-2) 3-1 loss to the Tar Heels on Sunday afternoon. Following a heartbreaking double-overtime loss at Wake Forest Thursday night, Syracuse needed a win at home against North Carolina to keep its season alive before its final game at Boston College on Thursday.
On senior day, the only bright spot for the Orange was its captain, Skilton.
Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer
After falling behind 2-0, she recorded Syracuse’s lone goal in the 45th minute. Alana O’Neill raced ahead from the backfield and split the Tar Heels defense. O’Neill made her way into the box and dished the ball to her right, where Skilton was waiting.
Skilton received the pass and ran to her right. She lined up against the near post and sent a rocket right by UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris, who had practically no time to react to the shot.
“She’s what keeps us going,” Alex Lamontagne said. “She’s our leader.”
SU Soccer Stadium found new life. The crowd cheered and Syracuse’s bench rose to its feet. Skilton’s father, who flew all the way from New Zealand, jumped up and down in the stands, raising a cutout of Skilton’s face above his head.
The goal moved Skilton past Nina Scalzo and into a tie for second place on Syracuse’s all-time career goals list with 27.
“It’s an honor to come out on senior day and lead my team,” Skilton said. “It would have meant more if we’d won, but a goal’s a goal and I love scoring.”
Skilton nearly increased that total to 28. After falling down 3-1, the Orange counter-attacked. Eva Gordon sent a long through ball to Sydney Brackett, who tried to get to the ball before it rolled out of bounds. Just as the ball crossed the line, Brackett crossed it to Skilton who was there for the volley, but the whistle blew, indicating the ball was out.
Skilton’s head flew back, eyes closed, facing toward the sky. She took a moment, took a deep breath, and then raced back on defense with only a few minutes left in her home career.
Skilton left SU Soccer Stadium on Sunday as one of the most decorated players in Orange history.
“She does all the things a professional player does,” Wheddon said. “And I hope she goes on to play at the professional level because she deserves it.”
As she, and the other seniors gathered together after the game, the crowd cheered, thanking them for what they’ve given to the team for the past four years. Skilton waved, as she walked toward Wheddon, with her dad smiling and waving back, still holding the cutout.
Then the stands emptied, and players found their families and friends near the exit of the field.
Skilton found her dad, and with her framed No. 22 jersey and him beside her, the senior looked at the stadium one last time before heading into the locker room.
Published on October 23, 2016 at 6:10 pm
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