06/01/05 — News-Argus Women's Soccer POY: Maloney key ingredient to program's success

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News-Argus Women's Soccer POY: Maloney key ingredient to program's success

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 1, 2005 1:58 PM

LAGRANGE -- North Lenoir coach Dan Amodeo took over as head coach of the Hawks' women's soccer team last year, and admittedly, he had limited knowledge of the game when the 2004 season began.

Amodeo was wise enough to know their was talent in the program, but he knew in order for the Hawks to be successful a field general needed to emerge to not only assist the other players, but to offer him a helping hand as a new coach in the sport.

Enter midfielder Katie Maloney.

For the last three years, two under Amodeo, Maloney has been the backbone behind one of the area's winningest soccer programs. Her numbers were again solid as a junior, posting 30 goals and eight assists from the center midfield spot as North Lenoir rolled to its third straight Classes 1-A/2-A Carolina/Eastern Plains Conference championship.

In the last three years, the Hawks have just three league losses and in 2005, they went 7-2 against teams in the News-Argus coverage area. Maloney's numbers and her team's accomplishments are obviously impressive, but her leadership stands out just as much or more to her coach.

"She's been extremely important. My background in soccer isn't the best, and Katie has played longer than I have coached," Amodeo said. "I can rely on her and not have to rely on myself as much. It makes it easier to coach the kids."

Amodeo, also an assistant football coach, compares Maloney to a quarterback -- only she anchors and directs the Hawks' on offense and defense.

"You need someone on the field who can see changes in a team or a game. Katie can do that. If she can't dribble down the middle, she'll switch it down the wings," Amodeo said. "She's a quarterback on defense, too. She plays the entire field. She could be coming up from the defense and see Haley (Bright) in a one-on-one with the defense and send her a pass.

"She comes back and gives me feedback on what we need to do and change."

Maloney, the daughter of Larry and Janet Maloney, along with Bright, who scored 20 goals and notched 20 assists, and defender Ruthanne Hardy, play travel soccer in the offseason with the New Bern Wave. She's been playing organized soccer since the second grade.

She often gets asked, "What's your favorite, soccer or basketball?"

"I always tell them, I like basketball better during basketball season and soccer during soccer season," Maloney said. "I've probably been playing organized soccer longer than basketball."

North Lenoir received a bye in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A/2-A playoffs this season, but fell at home 6-2 to Raleigh Charter in round two. Amodeo knows the team returns plenty of potential to return to the postseason, but he doesn't want the team to become complacent with conference championships.

"The people we have coming back and the girls coming up from the middle school, we should be conference champions again," he said. "We have to make a decision as a team as to where we want to go. Are we satisfied with conference championships or do we want to get farther in the playoffs?

"If that's the case, we as a staff needs to schedule some games against tougher competition that can help get us to that level."

With one more year left at North Lenoir, Maloney admits she is interested in the prospects of playing soccer collegiately. But, she wants to make her final year in 2006 just as memorable or more as the last three.

She hopes she can help continue the Hawks' impressive run despite losing eight seniors to graduation.

"I want another conference championship to make it four straight, and I want to go farther in the playoffs," she said.

It sounds like the team's leader has already answered her coach's question.