Men’s Soccer: O’Malley serves as vocal leader
Kit Loughran | Thursday, September 5, 2013
Every team needs a voice – a voice to lead, motivate and engage. For the Irish, that voice is senior captain and defender Andrew O’Malley.
O’Malley and fifth-year-senior and captain Grant Van De Casteele are the heart of the No. 5 Irish defense, but it is O’Malley’s voice that is heard across the field.
“One of the things O’Malley brings to the table is that he is a good on-the-field leader,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “It is so important to have someone in your defense that talks well, and that is something he does exceptionally well.”
It’s not only Clark that recognizes the power of O’Malley’s voice on the field, but also his fellow teammates.
“I think he is definitely the best person on our team in terms of verbal communication,” senior captain and forward Harrison Shipp said.
Shipp said that even though O’Malley’s vocal leadership is coming from the backline, it has an exceptional impact on the offense.
“He sets the tone for what we are going to do,” Shipp said. “His strong communicative skills help us form defensive lines.”
Though O’Malley has a leadership presence acclaimed by coaches and players alike, he doesn’t let the title of captain get to his head.
“Being a captain is just a title – everyone leads on the team,” O’Malley said.
Even so, O’Malley himself still recognizes the unique power his voice carries on the field.
“When something needs to be said on the field, I say it,” O’Malley said. “Everyone likes to say they lead by example, but I know I lead by voice.”
In addition to his voice, O’Malley brings plenty of talent to the Notre Dame lineup. Named Big East Defensive Player of Week after helping the Irish beat Duke 1-0 last season, O’Malley said that the Irish defense’s greatest strength is its experience.
“After playing teams like the Mexican national team last spring and against players who are now getting paid millions of dollars in the MLS, there’s not a lot that rattles you,” O’Malley said. “For us, it’s a confidence booster that we know we can shut out teams like [No. 9] UCLA.”
Heading into his fourth season as O’Malley’s coach, Clark said he has seen the field experience mature O’Malley as a player.
“O’Malley is a very good player, and this year he has become even better knowing when to pressure and when to play softer,” Clark said. “Times before he might have been too impulsive, but he is becoming more cerebral on the field.”
In order to set himself and his team up for success on the field, O’Malley must prepare himself mentally prior to game time.
“My mindset is that I need to get all the little things done beforehand and then let the big things fall into place,” O’Malley said. “I feel that you need to keep your mind in a good place, put yourself in the right spot and make sure you’re focused.”
In addition to preparing himself before game time, O’Malley has an important role in pumping up the rest of the team as well.
“His actions on the field are great, but he does this pregame pump up for the team,” Shipp said. “The team really respects him and listens to him for that, so he brings a lot of heart and gets the team ready.”
As O’Malley and the Irish are preparing to take to the field for their regular season, O’Malley said he is excited for the team’s first season in the ACC to begin.
“I’m really excited about being in the ACC because it’s the best soccer conference in the country, and I know our team is capable of winning every game,” O’Malley said. “I want us to be known as the new team that beat them all.”
O’Malley and the Irish will ride that confidence into a huge ACC test this weekend, as they take on No. 3 North Carolina on Sunday at Alumni Stadium.
Contact Kit Loughran at email@example.com