Soccer Star Connor Maloney Is On His Way To Greatness
Connor Maloney is one of Penn State’s best kept secrets — at least, if you haven’t been keeping up with the soccer team and its national championship aspirations. The sophomore soccer player has been a catalyst for the Nittany Lions’ 10-1-1 start, and is poised to break out onto the national stage.
In high school, Connor Maloney was an all-star for the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders where he managed to obtain 110 career goals and a school record of 68 assists and graduated as the 11th-best midfielder in the nation. He was even a kicker on the football team, where he scored 328 points over a four-year period, a Pennsylvania record.
Along with both of these activities, he was part of the Philadelphia Union Soccer Academy — a summer-long program where he would train and play with the MLS team — and he won the Generation Adidas Cup before coming to Penn State. He credits both his high school team and academy team for giving him the skills to succeed at the college level and giving him the drive to win.
As a freshman in 2013, Maloney started every game and totaled 1,714 minutes of action. He tallied two goals and seven assists, and was named a member of the All-Big Ten Freshman team. But despite Maloney’s impressive start, he has truly exploded this year.
At the moment, he is leading the Big Ten in both general goals (eight) and game winning goals (five), and has gathered two assists. After his Michigan game, he was profiled on MLS.com’s “MLS on Campus” page.
While he is unsure of what brought about his sudden offensive explosion, he cites his position change within the team as the biggest influence. In 2013, he was an attacking midfielder and is now a forward, along with his partner-in-crime Mikey Minutillo, who “makes my job a lot easier.”
Standing at 5-foot-6, Maloney isn’t quite the tallest guy on the team, but he still knows that his “diminutive” size is one of the unique things about him as a player. In fact, some of the greatest advice he’s received from a coach has been about his size. A coach once told him, “I don’t care about your size, you could be one of the most dominant players on the field.”
“Most people say that my height is my worst thing, but it may be ‘up in the air’ sometimes, trying to win a ball,” Maloney said. “But I have a low center of gravity, so it’s sometimes easier to get around the person.”
Maloney said his best quality is his ability to distribute the ball to his teammates and his work ethic of always “working my butt off, each and every day here at practice, here in the game. What you see me do in the game is what you see me do at practice.”
On a personal level, he says his favorite player is Lionel Messi, who is “just about my height, and about one of the most dominant players in the world.” His coach has even compared him to the global soccer star. Maloney knows that he may not be at Messi’s level quite yet, but knows he has the chance and potential to become a soccer great.
While he may only be a sophomore, he is setting his sights on playing overseas like many of the U.S. National Team’s best players. That isn’t to mock the Major League Soccer in the United States, as he’s open to playing anywhere. He just wants to make sure soccer stays a part of his life for as long as possible.
And to all of the Penn State fans that brave the cold for each of the games, he would just like to say, “Keep on coming out, honestly — we’ve been putting on a show all year, and hopefully we can keep it going. They give us the motivation to keep working harder. We love the noise, other teams get frustrated with it, and it’s just a good thing.”
Maloney is a member of one of the greatest men’s soccer teams Penn State has ever put together, and he’s still just a sophomore. In the coming years, fans of soccer in Happy Valley can look forward to watching him grow into one of the most elite players in the country.