Schmidt: Writing history with ‘Mallace’

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






When Calum Mallace decided to score the game-winning goal in last week’s game against Pittsburgh, he had no idea what the consequences would be.

Seriously, didn’t he realize how long it would take to rewrite all those history books?

Year after year, page after page, the terribleness of Marquette men’s soccer was documented with shaky hand and grim resolve. We weren’t happy about writing the story this way. We didn’t want the team to wallow and suffer like Shaq at the free-throw line.

Men’s soccer was the punch line, never the punch. When compared to the women’s team — they of an astounding three straight Big East championships — the men’s team was nothing. They were gum on the bottom of a shoe.

Losing was their inescapable reality for so long, it was hard to imagine they’d ever be relevant again.

It’s funny how perceptions can change in an instant. One season, one game, one kick, and it all changed in a flash. Mallace, the lion-maned, silver-toed senior striker delivered the kick, a beautiful blow that was glory and redemption and restitution all in one.

All those losing seasons are a hazy memory. The call for coach Louis Bennett’s resignation sounds like an April Fools’ gag. The agony and misery, the shutouts and heartbreak, long gone. See you later, don’t you ever come back.

2011 Big East Champs. Amazing. Bewildering. Confounding. How the heck did they do it? How did they go from footnote to front-page overnight?

Luck?

A miracle?

Sold their souls to the Prince of Darkness?

Nah. This success story begins and ends with Mallace, the elder statesman of the club who suffered through the lowest of lows, the 3-10-4 records, the lonely burden of carrying a team every night on his slight shoulders.

He’s been the team’s best player for three seasons, since he led Marquette with 24 shots on goal his sophomore year, an astounding 15 more than his nearest teammate. But at times, being the team’s greatest talent was like playing under a giant microscope.

He got all the credit when they won. He got all the criticism when they lost. Unfortunately, the losses far exceeded the victories, and so the jabs and barbs floated around him for years, unrelenting and heavy.

They said he shot too much. They said he wasn’t a team player. They said he’d never live up to his early promise.

One season, one game, one kick. Mallace’s storied career was validated in an instant. The burden was lifted.

Of course, Mallace had help. For the first time in his career as the leader of this team, he didn’t have to do it all. Junior goalkeeper David Check has been Fort Knox between the posts, nigh impenetrable, averaging only 1.19 goals against.

Then there’s the man formerly known as James “Freshman Blur” C. Nortey, who leads the team with nine goals, six more than Mallace. He’s been the catalyst for a long dormant offense, the spark plug for a team long running on fumes.

But I can’t help but think this season was Mallace’s doing. They could have very easily lost to Pittsburgh, coughed up the championship on the one-yard line, and we’d be talking about how this team is a bunch of choke artists and frauds.

That didn’t happen. Mallace scored the biggest goal in Bennett’s tenure. One season, one game, one kick. The books have been rewritten.

And even if Mallace didn’t understand the monumental calamity he was creating as that ball pierced the cold air, you have to think he’s consulting those record books now.

That’s Mallace with two “Ls.” That’s title with one.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email