By Nathan DeSutter, Athletics Communications Graduate Assistant
When she was four years old, Bonnies goalkeeper Lauren Malcolm had no interest in playing goalie, but she didn't have a choice. Her dad was the coach, and since nobody else wanted to do it, that's where she stuck. And if she ever complained, he had a simple message for her.
"Take one for the team and get back in net,"' Malcolm said.
Seventeen years later, Malcolm, now a junior for the Bonnies, has 290 career saves at the Division I level—fourth most in St. Bonaventure history—and refers to the net as a second home. It's far removed from the opinion of her four-year-old self: a glorified time out box where she would pick dandelions, stare at the clouds and occasionally get in the way of a meagerly kicked pint-sized pink soccer ball.
But her love affair with goalkeeping wasn't a fast or easy process, and before her freshman year of high school, she didn't see herself continuing on the pitch. That all changed when she switched club teams and started getting some unexpected attention on the recruiting circuit.
"A few college coaches sent a few emails, and I thought, 'Well, maybe I can (pursue college soccer)." she said.
When the Moon Township, Pa. native made her first trip to St. Bonaventure, she not only knew she could hang as a keeper on the D-I level, she knew the Bonnies were a perfect fit.
"I went to a basketball game, and I met the whole team," she said about her visit. "It was really cool seeing the whole student body could come together and cherish the environment they have."
More than the environment, it was her future teammates that sold her on becoming a Bonnie. And now, three years later, those welcoming strangers packed tightly on a stuffy night in the Reilly Center have become her source of inspiration, a shoulder to lean on, and a big reason for her success in net.
"If I do make a mistake and mess up, I know someone is going to be there supporting me," she said.
And it's all thanks to the culture head coach Steve Brdarski has engrained in his team.
"As much as he wants us not to make mistakes, if we do he's not someone who's in your face yelling at you," she said. "He guiding you and telling you what you can do better."
With a year and a half remaining, Malcolm is in range of the all-time saves record of 543 and all time shutout record of 18—she currently has eight—but she knows to get there she has to focus on one match at a time.
And she'll cherish each one of those matches because she actually wants to be in goal nowadays.