Skolmoski scores big at Utah
Utah sophomore Hailey Skolmoski is the leading goal scorer in the Pac-12. (Dave Sanderson/dsandersonpics)
By Greg James | email@example.com
The Pac-12 soccer world has been shocked by a Riverton High School graduate.
University of Utah sophomore and former Silverwolves star Hailey Skolmoski has grabbed her opportunity by the horns and made the most of it.
“I am super excited at how the season has turned out,” Skolmoski said. “Last season I was like ‘coach put me where you want, I just want to play,’ but this season I told them I can score from wherever Rich (Manning, Utah head coach) puts me. I was nervous coming off my injury. The physical part of rehab was not the problem it was mentally.”
Skolmoski suffered a tear in her anterior cruciate ligament in a game against the University of Washington in October 2015.
In the knee joint, three bones (femur, shin and kneecap) connect. The ligaments join them together to support the back-and-forth movement of the bones. The anterior ligament is on the front of the knee cap. Athletes that compete in high-demand sports such as soccer are more likely to suffer injuries to these ligaments.
Skolmoski had successful surgery, and after six months of rehab, she was cleared to compete in June. When she joined fall camp with the team, she found herself a little nervous.
“I had never been injured,” she said. “I was worried that I could not make an impact. I really surprised myself with the way I have been able to come back. I have been scoring goals, and every time I score I am like ‘Woah, how did I do that?’ It has been fun to be back on the field.”
She has been scoring goals in bunches. She led the Pac-12 in scoring with 13 goals (23rd in the country) and 29 points. She was named First Team All-Pac-12. She was one of three Utes to receive a postseason award: senior midfielder Katie Rogers was named Second Team All-Pac-12, and Tavia Leachman was named to the All-Freshman team.
Skolmoski is the first player to be named to the Pac-12 First Team since the school joined the conference in 2011. She also was named offensive player of the week twice, an award no other Ute women’s soccer player had ever been given.
“My first Pac-12 game I was like, ‘woah!’ The speed is so fast—fast and so physical,” she said. “It took some adjustment. This year has just been another step. Playing against these teams is great. They are all so good. There is never a game that is easy.”
She has scored in 11 of the team’s 19 matches this fall. She scored two goals in a game twice, against San Diego and Arizona.
The Utes have been selected to participate in the 2016 women’s college cup. They hosted Texas Tech in the first round Nov. 12, a 1-0 overtime victory. For Utah this is its seventh appearance in the tournament and second in the last four years. They are one of six Pac-12 teams to be invited.
Skolmoski is also having a successful year in the classroom. She was named CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 for 2016. She is studying human development and family studies. At Riverton, she was an Academic All-state player.
She is not the only former Silverwolf making and impact in the Pac-12. Darian Jenkins, a senior at UCLA, scored seven goals this season before suffering an injury.
“I was bummed I did not get to play against her this season,” Skolmoski said. “I hope she can recover and pursue a professional career. For me, I have always dreamed of playing for a national team or professionally. It just depends on where I am in my life at that point.”
Skolmoski can compete at Utah for two more seasons.