There’s a common belief in athletics that the biggest growth for a student-athlete is between their freshman and sophomore seasons. West Virginia women’s soccer forward Kelsie Maloney
firmly stands in this camp.
Comfortable in her cleats just two matches into the Mountaineers’ 2013 season, the sophomore from Harrisburg, Pa., is relishing playing alongside linemates Frances Silva
and Kate Schwindel
, and she believes the chemistry she shares with the duo will help the Mountaineers put more balls behind opposing goalkeepers this season.
“The way I play with Fran and Schwin is so different now because I wasn’t used to it last year,” the reigning WVU Student-Athlete of the Week explained. “I’m used to how they play now, and I don’t think I’d be here without them.”
Though Maloney feels more at ease playing alongside her teammates this season, she acknowledges her reliance on their in-match leadership and guidance.
“I definitely still lean on both of them a little bit, but I’m getting more comfortable being my own person and player,” she said. “They have definitely taught me a lot.”
The trio’s familiarity was on full display last weekend, as they each scored a goal in the Mountaineers’ season-opening 1-0-1 showing at the Penn State Invitational. Maloney set up WVU’s first goal of the year, sending a cross to Silva for the score five minutes into WVU’s game against then-No. 2 ranked Penn State on Aug. 23. She then extended the team’s lead to 2-0 in the 70th minute on a header from freshman Ashley Lawrence
. Schwindel scored WVU’s first goal in its win over Syracuse on Aug. 25, with Silva earning the assist.
Following her three-point performance, Maloney was named to the CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performer Weekly Honor Roll.
“Everyone learns differently, and I think Fran and Schwin are great role models,” says Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “To have that opportunity to play with them and train with them day-in and day-out is a benefit, and I think all three are going to get better this season. They each bring a different dimension that backlines are going to have to deal with this season. I think they all can really play off each other, but also really well with each other, too, because they all have a special gift they bring to the game.”
Maloney, a member of the 2012 Big 12 All-Newcomer Team, has a chance to be involved in the majority of the Mountaineers’ scoring chances this season, as even a casual soccer fan can’t help but notice that she is almost always one of the first WVU players on the ball.
“I think I’ve always been fast,” Maloney said without pause. “My brothers and my dad are all really fast; it’s just second nature.”
The second of four children, Maloney hails from an athletic family. Her younger brothers, Connor and Austin, both play soccer, with Connor set to make his collegiate debut with the Penn State men’s team this weekend. She also has an older brother, Ryan.
Just as she learns from her teammates daily, Maloney hopes her brothers are able to take some lessons from her play on the field, too.
“My younger brothers definitely look up to me. I just want to provide them with a little extra soccer knowledge.”
Izzo-Brown thinks Maloney’s game has benefited from match-ups on the field against her brothers.
“Kelsie’s father (Terence) is a coach and he played. I think it’s a compliment that she’s a bit of a tomboy because of her upbringing – she’s got that grit to her,” Izzo-Brown explained through a smile. “She is great at painting nails, but she’s got a little bit of an edge because of fighting with the boys at her house.”
Speed, grit and knowledge – three skills Maloney hopes will help the Mountaineers successfully defend their 2012 Big 12 Conference Regular-Season Championship.
“I think we’re going to do pretty well this season,” she said. “I definitely think we can win another Big 12 Championship, and then hopefully play in a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight game in the NCAA Tournament. I really want this team to repeat as Big 12 champions.”
Maloney also hopes to continue her education on the line alongside Silva and Schwindel.
“Fran’s scoring ability – I want to conquer that, and I want the ability to score more than I have,” she said of the senior teammate she only has four more months with. “I want to develop the type of skills she has so I can help the team.”
Maloney goes for career goal No. 4 tonight as the Mountaineers open their 2013 home season Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium against Central Michigan, at 5:30 p.m. WVU will then play host to Morehead State this Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets for each match are $5 for adults and $3 for youth and senior citizens, and groups of 10 or more may pay $2 each. WVU students are admitted free with a valid WVU student ID.