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Sports >  High school sports

West Valley’s Madison Maloney provides leadership, athleticism between the posts

UPDATED: Wed., March 17, 2021

West Valley goalkeeper Madison Maloney dives for one of six saves against visiting Clarkston on March 4, 2021 in a 2021 Greater Spokane League 2A game. West Valley won 4-3 in a shootout.  (Dirk Linton/courtesy)
West Valley goalkeeper Madison Maloney dives for one of six saves against visiting Clarkston on March 4, 2021 in a 2021 Greater Spokane League 2A game. West Valley won 4-3 in a shootout. (Dirk Linton/courtesy)

West Valley’s Madison Maloney doesn’t have an extensive background as a goalkeeper. In fact, entering her senior season, she only had one full season as a starting keeper due to missing a season to injury and playing behind a senior.

If she wasn’t such a great goalie, she could earn all-league nods in midfield as well.

“We went to a camp at Gonzaga two summers ago before COVID, and she was out scrimmaging and the Gonzaga coach goes, ‘Who is that on the field?’ I said, ‘That’s my goalkeeper.’ ” West Valley coach CC Collins said. “She’s got just a natural skill both on the field and in the goal as well.”

Despite limited time as starting keeper, Maloney already has a scholarship waiting for her at Western Washington.

“I joke a lot with her,” Collins said on Tuesday after the Eagles downed Othello 2-0 – behind Maloney’s seven saves. “ ‘I’ve only gotten two years of you. Don’t you have two more years of eligibility?’ ”

The Greater Spokane League 2A ranks won’t be sad to see Maloney graduate. She’s allowed just five goals in five matches with three shutouts and is 2 for 2 in shootout wins this season.

“I’ve got coaches that are mad at me,” Collins joked. “They were asking me last year, and the year before, ‘Is she a senior? She’s a senior, right?’ And I’m like, ‘Nope, got a couple more years, people.’ Other teams know her, and they don’t want to play against her because she’s that good.”

Maloney’s courtship by WWU was a quick one.

“I’ve only gone down there once, to have a training with them, and then from there they offered me,” she said.

“I talked to other schools, but it was my junior year and I didn’t follow up with those once I committed.”

Who could have known that her quick decision would turn out to be so beneficial?

“I think I got really lucky because I committed like three or four weeks before COVID hit,” Maloney said. “So I was one of the lucky ones.”

Maloney is a three-sport athlete; she also plays basketball and runs track, and she’s looking forward to competing in those sports this year too as the COVID restrictions in the state are slowly being eased back.

But make no mistake – soccer is her first love.

“You know, it’s really intense, it’s very stressful,” she said. “You’ve got to be thinking, on your toes the whole time. You get to watch the whole field and you get to help everyone, and get to direct everyone – which I think is nice. It’s more of a leader role.”

“You can tell, just her emotions and her thoughts are all soccer,” Collins said. “I think she eats and breathes soccer, you know. Everything is soccer.”

Maloney isn’t physically intimidating, but she’s remarkably quick, agile and covers a lot of ground .

“Sometimes, I play more physical because I have to beat them to the ball,” she said. “And other times, I can play more relaxed and try to not be too physical, because I have to protect myself for college, moving forward. So, it just depends.”

If Maloney is thinking about protecting herself, her play on the field doesn’t show it.

“Getting hurt is just a part of it, and it’s more about recovery and knowing how to recover after it,” she said. “I worry about it, but it doesn’t stop me from playing the game.”

Collins thinks her goaltender plays a more physical style than she lets on.

“She comes out hard,” Collins said. “When there’s a 50-50 ball, she’ll be diving, she’ll be throwing her body in front of it. She will come out physically as hard as she can. She can dive from one corner to the next and she sacrifices her whole body to stop the ball.”

Collins added that Maloney has a preternatural ability on penalty kicks.

“Whenever we go into a shootout I know we’ve got it, because I know that she’s gonna stop those. Even though those are sometimes unstoppable, she’ll find a way to do it.”

On top of all her physical gifts, Collins appreciates Maloney’s natural leadership abilities. She said her keeper routinely gathers teammates before games for last-minute instruction and motivation.

“She’s got more heart than any player I’ve ever had,” Collins said. “This year, she was unanimously voted by her peers as captain, and I think that says a lot.”

But Maloney thinks that’s a place where her game has room to grow.

“You know, honestly, all I wanted for my senior year was to just become more of a leader for my teammates,” she said. “Coming in as a freshman, you know, I was a little cocky, like that kind of stuff. I just want to evolve into a different person going into college because it’s not going to be the same.”

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