By Matthew Ondesko Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
When you are growing up you don’t think about going to college and playing sports to break records. Maybe, you might be lucky and get into a couple of games. Or be good enough to have a decent college career.
Then, once you get there, something happens. You notice that you can compete with the best of the best that the college game has to offer. You went from maybe a sometimes starter to one that the team can’t live without.
Year by year you get better and better and the records start coming. What turned out to be just happy to be offered a college scholarship has now turned into a tremendous career.
St. Bonaventure University soccer player Lauren Malcolm didn’t know what to expect when she stepped on the campus of the Catholic university. A standout at Moon Area High School in Moon Township, Pa., Malcolm didn’t exactly know how her career would turn on at St. Bonaventure.
Fast forward four years later and Malcolm’s career has turned out just fine. Malcolm is one of the all-time greats to ever play between the pipes for the Bonnies. She is just the fourth player in program history to surpass 400 career saves when she made 11 stops at Canisius.
Now, you can say that the Bonnies have been struggling for the past four years for her to make that many saves, or you can say that she is that good. Over the past four years it seems Malcolm is always in the right place and the right time.
She is always in the right position to make the stops that she has to make. The teams knows they can be a little bit more aggressive in the midfield and on the offensive need knowing they have a shot stopper like her at the back end.
Keepers are supposed to steals games at time for their teams and that is exactly what she has done. There have been times that the Bonnies shouldn’t have even been in a couple of games, but Malcolm was able to keep them in it until they could find a winner.
Earlier in the year against the University at Buffalo, Malcolm was able to make a couple of key saves until the Bonnies could find the winner close to the death. All in all it has been a solid career for Malcolm.
“My time at Bonaventure has been really awesome,” stated Malcolm. “I’m definitely going to miss it, and I think it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.”
Malcolm was able to do what most aren’t able to do and that’s start as a freshman. Most freshmen don’t see the playing field and the coaches think they aren’t ready. Coaches like to get their players acclimated to the college lifestyle.
That wasn’t the case for Malcolm. She was thrown right into the fire her that year, starting all 19 games. It was a stressful time when she was living it, but one that she is happy that happened. Being able to get that time as a freshman was valuable as it allowed her see what she needed to do to work on her game and improve to become the type of keeper she is today.
“Coming in and playing as a freshman was so stressful,” stated Malcolm. “I remember going into that first practice I was really nervous. I remember the upperclassmen, and the people in my own grade, had my back if I made a mistake, which was really awesome.”
Some keepers can go an entire game without facing on shot on net. Shoot, some keepers can go multiple games without getting having to make a save.
That hasn’t been the case for Malcolm. She has routinely faced more than 100 shots per year. It takes a certain mindset for a keeper to know that they are going to get peppered with shots on a game by game basis.
In their game against Canisius, Malcolm made 11 saves to keep the Bonnies in it. She goes into each game now knowing she will face a lot of shots on goal, and goes into each game knowing she will need to be at her best.
“In all honestly, I think I have just gotten use to it,” stated Malcolm. “This year it has been a little bit toned down with shots. Honestly, I get a little bit nervous when I don’t face a lot of shots. i think I have just gotten used to it, and I just know that I have to be ready. The big thing is just always staying focused.”
This season it has been a little different. The team has grown up around Malcolm. When Malcolm was freshman so was 90 percent of the team. They went through their growing pains together. A lot of losses and shots piled up.
This season, the girls are all seniors. The wins have been coming and the shots have been less. Malcolm has had to change her mindset as well. She hasn’t been facing the number of shots she normally has, so now she needs to make sure she does the little the things right.
“I try and focus on the little things now,” stated Malcolm. “Sometimes I get a little nervous coming out on balls or crosses. I just try and stay mentally positive and say no I am going to get there.”
Off the pitch, Malcolm,along with the rest of the program, is killing it in the classroom. She is a true definition of a student-athlete. She is a winner on the pitch and off it. Coming from PA., Malcolm wasn’t sure how she would adapt to St. Bonaventure.
The small Catholic university might not be for everyone. But, Malcolm has loved her experience at the university and everything it has brought.
“Honestly, I love it,” stated Malcolm. “I kind of went to a bigger high school, and I loved my high school experience. But, going to Bonaventure has been more personal, you can make more of a personal connection. I feel comfortable to go in and talk to any of my professors about my future. I also feel motived more when I have personal relationship with my professors. I want to go to class and I am more excited to learn.”