As a freshman at Arizona State University, goalkeeper Emma Malsy experienced a coaching change and saw an opportunity to be a part of a building culture at a Kansas State soccer program that was going into its second season of existing.
“We had a coaching change at Arizona State, and I saw a better opportunity for myself here,” said Malsy. “Obviously with the new program here, there is that opportunity to build a culture. I really thought that was a unique opportunity to be a part of. I had a really strong connection with the coaching staff: Gabe, Jess and Dibbini, they really made me feel at home. I saw coming here as a very positive opportunity for me forward.”
Malsy —a Westminister, California, native— was used to always being on the field when she arrived at K-State. She started all four years at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, California, and was a team captain. In her one year at Arizona State, she started nine games and played a total of 824 minutes.
After arriving at K-State, she ended up redshirting because Miranda Larkin had the starting goalkeeper position. Being used to being on the field, sitting out her redshirt year was a change for Malsy that was tough to cope with.
“It was definitely a change in role for me,” said Malsy.
But looking back at it now, under all the circumstances, Malsy views her redshirt year as a positive.
“I think for me it was a good opportunity to kind of learn, better myself, making sure my technique was right,” said Malsy. “Kind of having that year to settle down a little bit, especially after a big move across the country. It was tough in the moment, but I look back and see it as a positive.”
There was a plan in place when Malsy arrived at K-State: redshirt her first year and then take over in the spring when Larkin ran out of eligibility. When it came time for her to take over in the spring, Malsy ended up getting injured, causing her to continue to sit out in the spring. The plan was put on halt. She then got through her injuries and got herself ready to go for the 2018 season.
After the long wait, redshirt sophomore Emma Malsy finally got to step onto the field in her K-State uniform for the first exhibition game. She said that was big for her to get the feel of being back on the field, and in the first regular season game, she recorded her first shutout in her first regular season game-time action.
“Even in our exhibitions games, I really wanted to focus on making sure I was getting my feet back under me, getting my confidence back up,” Malsy said. “Making sure I was comfortable getting the ball back to my feet. That was something especially in the Saint Louis game that I really wanted to focus on, I felt good being back in.”
In that Saint Louis game, Malsy recorded her first shutout in her first regular season game as a Wildcat, as the Wildcats won the game 1-0.
That set the ground for the record-setting year for Malsy, as she set the school record of six shutouts nine games into the season. She recorded the first three shutouts in the first three games of the year, as she helped the Wildcats set the program best 3-0 start.
These accomplishments were not easy to accomplish given her circumstances of what she went through, head coach Mike Dibbini said she has a strong mindset that allowed her to do so.
“She’s got this head in confidence in her that allows her to shake things off and put things behind her, and focus on the key moments of the game,” Dibbini said. “I think that comes with experience, we weren’t able to see that among the injuries that she had, but she’s good in key moments and she keeps us in the game in key moments and we’re excited about that.”
Now in her role as the starting goalkeeper after watching over Larkin during her redshirt season, Malsy said that she has seen herself become a leader on the team.
“Last year I kind of sat back because I knew my role, I wasn’t starting I was a support player,” Malsy said. “I supported Miranda, I felt like she did a really good job with the team and I saw that as a really positive example for me. Coming into this year, I needed to be that presence that we had lost, so that was something that I felt I needed to step up in as far as my role on the field. Definitely, I think moving forward I am really looking to solidify my spot back there. Making sure that my teammates know they can count on me.”
The 5-foot-11 goalkeeper said the coaching staff has been a big part of her development, as Dibbini said that it has been a very big boost for the team having her at goalkeeper with how good she has been this year.
“It’s really refreshing to have a coach support me the way this coaching staff has supported me this season,” Malsy said. “It’s definitely reassuring, basically telling me to keep going, it’s motivation to make sure that I’m the best that I can be for my team and for our team to be that.”
As Malsy continues to improve in her game and as a leader on the team, Dibbini said he has seen improvement game-by-game.
“I think she’s pretty confident in her ability, and pretty confident in her backlines ability and team defending ability to get out to a good start,” Dibbini said. “That has been proven against really good teams.”
Dibbini said she has become a lockdown defensive goalkeeper because she has something in her that is few to come by.
“She has a little bit of a hidden swag to her that she is confident that she is going to keep the ball out of the net,” he said.