Partway through soccer tryouts before her sophomore year at Canton, Maggie Malloy sensed that things weren’t going well and it might be better to try something different. Her younger sister knew the field hockey coaches, so she asked to join their tryouts instead. Although she had played ice hockey since the first year that she was old enough (which is pretty common for Canton), Malloy had never played field hockey competitively before picking up a stick that fall.
She made an instant impact on the Bulldogs, becoming one of the Hockomock League’s top scorers that year and tallying more than 20 goals in each of her junior and senior seasons, being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team all three times. Malloy went from never playing the sport to fulfilling a dream and playing at nationally ranked St. Anselm (the college where her parents met and the school her brother and sister both attend).
Malloy is in the midst of a breakthrough senior season for the Hawks. With her fourth hat trick of the year in the penultimate game of the regular season, Malloy broke a decade-old record for goals in a season. The following day, she scored twice more and broke the single-season scoring record as well (which she added to with an assist in the NE-10 Tournament opener against Southern New Hampshire).
This week, she was named the NE-10 Player of the Week, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Div. II Offensive Player of the Week, and the NE-10 Player of the Year.
“Playing here was a goal of mine for a very long time,” Malloy said the afternoon before the Hawks kicked off the conference tournament. “This isn’t something that I aimed for, but I think having these opportunities that led me here, it feels absolutely wonderful getting to this spot.”
When asked what allowed her to jump from five career goals and two career assists after her freshman and junior years (COVID took away her sophomore campaign) to 19 goals and seven assists (45 points) this fall, Malloy joked, “I wish I had an answer for that because I think it would be very valuable to tell people.”
She added, “Sometimes it just works, and I think a lot of that is off-the-field team cohesion and and off-the-field unity towards a goal and I’ve been very fortunate to be at the end piece of a lot of our success. I think it’s an intangible thing. It’s not something you can do, you just need to put all the pieces together of being a successful team to have that ultimate personal success.”
The season hasn’t been perfect. St. Anselm started with three straight losses, including to the top team in the country and defending national champion Shippensburg. After back-to-back wins in league play, the Hawks lost in overtime to Adelphi, who they met again in the NE-10 semifinal.
Staring at a 2-4 record, the Hawks turned things around with one loss in the final 13 games of the regular season and an 11-2 record in the NE-10. Malloy believed the seeds for that turnaround were planted in the spring season.
“The weather was cold and rainy for like three months and you’re exhausted,” she explained. “You just did a year of school and sports and we were able to persevere through all of that and stay together as a team. Things stayed positive on the field and off the field, even through challenges, and I think I was like, this team can do hard things.”
“I think that losing is a really important part of learning and growing, especially on a team like this. When we look at the mistakes or shortcomings that we’ve had, collectively we know that we can do better, we can do anything we need to accomplish our goals.”
It also helped that Malloy started finding the net as often as she did at Canton. She scored her first hat trick against Southern Connecticut State and started a six-game scoring streak (including two more hat tricks) with a goal and assist against Southern New Hampshire.
She is third in NCAA DII with 2.37 points per game and is the nation’s second-highest scorer at a goal per game. This massive season has moved her up to a tie for seventh all-time in points at St. A’s, as well as a tie for sixth in goals and just outside the top 10 for assists. All of that was accomplished with limited playing time as a freshman and the pandemic taking away her sophomore season.
“I think everything happens for a reason and for me that was a huge year where I did skill development,” Malloy said about 2020. “It taught me so much to not take anything for granted. I’m not going to say I’m happy it happened, but I’m happy with the lessons that I ultimately learned from it. Losing a year just makes you even more grateful for every moment that you get.”
In addition to her family legacy at St. Anselm, Malloy is also continuing one for Canton field hockey, with former Bulldogs Andrea McNeil and Mary Nee among the players who Malloy played with in high school and college. (There is also a significant Hockomock legacy at St. A’s with former Oliver Ames standout Hannah Friend the program’s all-time leading scorer and former Franklin standout Amanda Lewandowski among the current Hawks.)
“It just speaks to how much investment that our coaches back in high school put into us,” she said. “I hadn’t even considered playing field hockey in college because I didn’t know most of the rules back in high school. Having the coaches believe in me and push me to do things I didn’t think I could do, and I know they’ve done that for so many other people back in Canton, that’s huge.”
While she is focused on the conference tournament and a potential spot in the NCAA Tournament, Malloy was also reflecting on how far she had come as a player and how far sports had brought her in the nearly two decades since she laced up her skates for youth hockey.
“It’s really cool that I get to do all these things right now, but what I think is best is looking inside and seeing how I couldn’t have done anything without all the incredible people who’ve supported me along the way and taught me,” Malloy said. “The experiences that I’ve gotten to share with my teammates and my family…I’m really grateful for all of that and it’s just incredible, at the end, to see all that went into it. You can see all the support you have in your life through the outlet of sports.”
She added, “I think I have graduation glasses for everything, so even the things that sometimes aren’t the most fun to do, I’m just like, ‘Oh my God, last time doing this,’ and I think it’s helping with the physical aspect of getting through the storm of the season and playoffs. It’s easier when you can see the end in sight to give it all you’ve got.”
Graduation glasses or not, Malloy sees a huge opportunity for the Hawks to close out the season, and her career, with silverware.
“It would mean so much, Malloy said about an NE-10 title or an NCAA Tournament berth. “It’s one of those things, I really, really want to do it, but all we can focus on is putting our best foot forward, so that’s what I’m going to focus on. It would be awesome to bring home a trophy, but we need to focus on playing the best field hockey that we can.”
Ed. Note – St. Anselm lost 2-1 in overtime to Adelphi in the NE-10 semifinal on Friday afternoon. Amanda Lewandowski (Franklin) scored the go-ahead goal in the second half but Adelphi was able to equalize and found a winner in OT. The Hawks (14-6) earned an at-large bid to the NCAA DII Tournament and will be the No. 5 seed in the six-team field. They were the national runner-up in 2019.