Erin Gillingham has reshaped her game and recaptured her mojo for Syracuse

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Erin Gillingham was still adjusting moving from forward to midfield when a teammate yelled to her across the field.“Step back, Erin!” she yelled. “You’re too close.”In high school, Gillingham had exclusively played forward, so in her freshman year at Syracuse (12-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) the new role was completely foreign and she struggled to transition. She started only seven games before finding the field more often in her sophomore season. Last year, as a junior, she saw her starts decrease from 17 to just 11.“My confidence level was the reason (my starts decreased),” Gillingham said. “Like, I’m usually not very confident in myself when I play. This year, I’ve really tried to change that because I know I can be a good player if I believe I am.”Switching from forward to midfielder required a complete transformation in playing style. Once a goal-scorer, Gillingham had to become a defensive stalwart. Gillingham initially struggled with quarterbacking the team in the midfield, which she described as a “confidence-based” position.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe position also demanded a defensive ability Gillingham wasn’t sure she had.“My defense was absolutely terrible (in high school),” Gillingham said. “I didn’t know how to defend the ball. I was always too aggressive. I’m focusing more on being calm when I’m on defense.”In her sophomore year at Syracuse, Gillingham scored three goals on a team that won the first female NCAA championship in school history. In the two years since, she has scored two goals. Her role has drastically changed as she has grown into a defensive and facilitating midfielder.For the Orange, Gillingham learned how to play less aggressively and stay in front of attackers rather than swiping for the ball to burst “the bubble” around the offensive player. In order to prevent earning penalties, coaches taught Gillingham to stay a “stick and a step away” from her opponent.“Her pressure defense is outstanding,” Bradley said, acknowledging Gillingham’s significant growth since her freshman year. “Her ability to get on a ball under pressure and move it forward has really grown.”Although Gillingham’s play does not always show up in the box score — she has one goal and one assist on the season — she embraces her role in the midfield, and she “never really misses forward at all.” Now, Gillingham said, she would rather “build up the play than finish it.”Gillingham reinvented herself so easily because of her sound fundamentals, said senior forward Caroline Cady, Gillingham’s closest friend on the team.“She’s really aggressive in her defense, she’s a good attacker, and she sees the field well,” Cady said. “She knows how to play the game.”Though Gillingham is a different player now than who she was on the national championship team, the senior leader believes this team has the potential to repeat the same results. Comments Published on October 29, 2017 at 10:22 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmermanlast_img read more

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