Senior soccer player Benjamin Mallue’s story is just like any other tale. It has a beginning, middle and an end.
Actually, it’s not over yet, with the postseason beginning this weekend for the Red Storm. But Senior Night at Belson Stadium on Oct. 31 marked a major milestone in Mallue’s four-year journey through the ranks in the St. John’s soccer program.
“Ben is an unsung guy who puts in an enormous amount of time,” head coach Dave Masur said.
He doesn’t necessarily put in many minutes on the field and he’s never scored a point for St. John’s. But his role on this nationally-ranked soccer team can be emulated by any student-athlete. He received his most meaningful minutes on Senior Night: the final 210 seconds in the Big East regular season title clincher over Cincinnati.
After posing in celebration photos and receiving his senior plaque and Big East trophy, he had time to look back to where it all began.
“It’s definitely been a long road,” Mallue said. “When I came to St. John’s, I just wanted to be a part of one of the best soccer programs in the country. So I told them, I’m here.”
There wasn’t a roster spot for him and there was no walk-on tryout. But there were bags of balls to carry and other managerial tasks that would assist the team, and Mallue was happy to help.
He fulfilled his duty that year the same way team members trained tirelessly for each game. In 2007, he was honored with the James Kevin Beatty Memorial Award for his grace and dignity in a managerial role for an athletic team. His diligence as a manager caught Masur’s eye and earned Mallue his next role on the team.
“Next thing you know, I’m going on trips with the team,” Mallue said. “Next thing you know, I’m playing in practice.”
This is, after all, what he meant by being a part of the team. Mallue was now on the practice team, where he could help make the team better by giving them the greatest challenge he could.
And he received some perks, as well. Mallue attended the historical Vietnam excursion made by the soccer team, who played three Vietnamese teams while overseas in 2006.
It was during this time that Masur knew Mallue would be an asset to his team until he graduated from the University. He saw Mallue as an inspirational leader, even if he didn’t have the outstanding skills of the starting team. Masur said it’s his maturity, intelligence and determination that earned him a roster spot and 14 minutes of play this year.
“He maximizes every practice and enjoys every minute,” Masur said.
And Mallue is not just space-filler when he gets his hard-earned minutes. In the final minutes of the 3-0 win over Villanova on Oct. 11, he found himself on the attack and crossed a ball that sailed just out of bounds.
In the 2-0, Senior Night win over Cincinnati, Mallue challenged a loose ball and was fouled hard. The Bearcat foul resulted in two yellow cards and set up a dangerous free kick for the Red Storm.Beginning to end, the hard work was well worth it, Mallue says.
“Fast forward four long years later, and I’m trying to make little contributions when I can in a big season for us,” he said.
Leadership is one of the hallmarks of Masur’s mantra and that’s why he says any hardware the team earns this season belongs as much to Mallue as the squad’s leading scorer.
In the end, Benjamin Mallue is just that kind of behind-the-scenes leader pivotal to any successful program, and St. John’s is happy to have his help.