Boys Soccer: Marmion’s Mick Maley ‘driven to be the best’Marmion's Mick Maley scores the lone goal of the match against Kaneland on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Shortly after Marmion gutted out a 2-1 overtime sectional victory over Sterling, coach Kevin O’Connor said of senior Mick Maley, “I don’t have enough superlatives. He’s as smart a player as I’ve seen in the state of Illinois this year.”
Combine all that with his shutdown marking of opponents, midfield distribution and finishing ability on offense, there is one more superlative O’Connor can use for Maley — 2011 Beacon-News Player of the Year.
“We’ve had a lot of very good players over the years at Marmion,” O’Connor said. “Mick is one of those young men who comes around once in a lifetime and as a coach, you’re privileged to have the opportunity to work with him.”
Maley adds to a growing resume that includes Illinois High School Soccer Coaches All-State acclaim and multiple All-Suburban Christian Conference honors.
“From the day he stepped foot on our field as a freshman, there was a seriousness about his game,” O’Connor said. “He was never intimidated and believed in his abilities, but he always respected those better than him and all he wanted to do was absorb as much as possible.
“He wanted to learn from coaches, from teammates, from opponents. He was driven to be the best he could be without ever taking a shortcut. That’s the best student, the best soccer player, the best young man.”
O’Connor illustrated that drive by repeating some of his postmatch comments after a 2-1 overtime supersectional victory produced Marmion’s first appearance in an IHSA State Final. Trailing Lakes 1-0 as a result of an own goal that involved the senior, Maley vowed to his teammates at halftime, “I am not going to let us lose.”
“That’s what a leader, a captain, and a tremendous all-state player does,” O’Connor insisted at the time. “He willed us to this victory.”
Maley scored the equalizer with 18:17 left in regulation and tallied the matchwinner 1:56 into overtime — one of a team-best eight matchwinners that were part of a 63-point, 23-goal, 17-assist season. Impressive numbers considering he primarily played as a midfielder or defender late in the year as the Cadets adjusted game strategy on their way to a fourth-place finish in Class 2A.
“The most gratifying achievement was getting our program and coach O’Connor into the state finals,” Maley said. “To me every individual award is representative of the Marmion program and my teammates. Without those guys pushing me every day in practice and everyone working together in matches, there would be no honors and without coach O’Connor, there would have been no postseason play, so it’s also a direct reflection on him.”
Maley looks forward to continuing his career at Northwestern having verbally committed early to the Big Ten champions for a number of reasons.
“Getting a great education was a big factor, plus it’s close to home which means it’s never too far from friends and family,” Maley said.
“The coaching staff and (former Marmion standout Gerardo) Alvarez also helped sell me. I’m hoping I can fill his shoes in some fashion,” Maley added, noting how Alvarez appears throughout the Wildcats’ season and career records for points, goals and assists.