For Hofstra University senior attackman Mike Malave, this season has been a quantum leap over his past years with the lacrosse team.
Through six games, the former Shoreham-Wading High School standout already has accumulated 17 goals. In contrast, he scored 9, 11 and 26 goals, respectively, his previous three seasons.
The reason is simple: confidence.
“I just gained a lot of confidence in my shot,” he said. “At the end of last season I started to feel [more confident] a little bit. My teammates around me were just beating their guys and drawing slides. I’ve just got to bury every opportunity I have. I’ve worked on my shot in the off-season and just [score] on every opportunity I can.”
Malave certainly made the most of it in a 15-4 victory over Providence College at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead on Saturday, scoring twice and assisting on a third goal.
The Pride (2-4) needed that win badly because the team had dropped four of its season-opening games by a total of six goals.
Head coach Seth Tierney credited Malave, one of four captains, with helping to hold the team together during some tough times.
“I’m very proud of the leaders,” he said. “Certainly Mike Malave is one of the captains,” as he helped “keep 40-something guys calmed, poised, entering a situation that we didn’t want to be in.”
Saturday certainly was a different story.
The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Malave said he had more fun, even if it was pouring.
“When you play like that, it’s just a great time,” he said, citing the play of face-off man Kris Clarke. “When you have a face-off guy who’s winning the ball every time, [it] just instills so much confidence in your offense as a whole; in your defense, too.”
Malave also praised the strong play of goaltender Chris Selva.
“That’s so much confidence having that strength up the middle like that,” he said.
Malave entered the game with two assists, but his assist on Brier Davis’ goal in a man-advantage situation that tied the score at 1-1 with 5 minutes 51 seconds left in the first quarter was key.
“The first goal was a great play,” Tierney said.
Besides his scoring heroics, Malave has been honored off the field. He was named one of 20 men’s lacrosse candidates who have excelled on and off the field for the 2015 Senior CLASS award. A finance major, the Wading River native has accrued a 3.45 grade-point average and has been involved in community service and charitable team activities. The winner will be announced in conjunction with the NCAA Division I championship in May.