PHOTO COURTESY OF ICGAELS.COM
Timeflies when you’re having fun, and that was the case come playoff time for defender Malcolm Moreno and the Iona men’s soccer program. The team clinched the third seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and went on to win the MAAC title for the first time in Iona history, with Moreno at the head. He has put much effort into playing for the Gaels ever since his freshman year, working towards victory each season.
Moreno’s education has changed ever since he came to Iona, according to the senior. That change shifted to the team as well, learning a lot about how college soccer is played as well as how college life is.
“Personally, I’m trying to be as involved as I can,” Moreno said. “On campus, I have my team, but I also have the Student Athlete Advisement Committee, Finance Club and community service hours with the team. And I’m trying to have a social life with all of that while getting good grades. So, the key thing that I have learned was time management.”
Transitioning to college life was easier than expected. His routine has been much better, compared to when he was in high school in Madrid, according to Moreno.
“We would be the oldest groups who would have practice at night time,” Moreno said. “I remember having dinner at around 12:00 a.m. and then at 7:30 a.m. I would be up and running for school again. It is demanding in college, but it’s a bit more relaxed too.”
He wanted to revolve his whole life around soccer, hence his journey to Iona. As a student athlete, his main focuses are working hard and improving his skills. Moreno had gone through a lot to get where he is today, especially in his freshmen season.
“When I first got here, I remember having this conservation with coach Hamilton and the coaching staff,” Moreno said. “[They] were thinking about having me red-shirted or have me work in the spring and play my sophomore year. But eventually, I started the last 11 games of the season in my freshmen season. You had to be two or three steps ahead of the game.”
Moreno reflected on each year and how he wanted to enhance his work ethic. Injuries hindered his time on the pitch, but his mentality helped him fight through the setbacks to get back to being fit.
“My first year was all about confidence,” Moreno said. “Second year was a little more of a breakout season, in terms of passing, being brave and being more of an offensive player, but I still needed to get polished. Last year, being called to the MAAC All-Second Team, it was a good consolidation because of the steps I was taking. Now, senior year, especially dealing with all the injuries, I had to be more conservative with my body.”
Each year, he had a plan for himself and the program while working with the coaching staff so that the whole team could improve. As one of the veteran players for the Maroon and Gold, Moreno had some messages to tell the younger and newer players on the roster. He said that the team is technical, position-based and likes to pass.
“Chances are you are going to hit a bad pass, you’re not going to hit a good shot, or cross, everyone is allowed to have a bad day,” Moreno said. “It’s all about technique, but it’s not easy. Hard work is not negotiable.”
For 16 years, Moreno has dedicated his life to soccer. The game has taught him a lot for better and for worse.
“The game has taught me that life is not fair,” Moreno said. “There were an uncountable amount of games where I was on the better side and we still lost, while there have been times where I have not been on the best side and we won.”
Moreno has never been a fan of solo training. The game is a team sport and he wanted to explore that in the highest level possible, he said.
Looking to the past, Moreno has learned much from the program as a whole throughout his four years. Aside from having a great community all around him, he said that the main reason why he came to Iona was because of soccer, despite the major culture shift. Head Coach James Hamilton made an impact on his game as well.
“My relationship with [Hamilton] is always going to be special because I was his very first recruit,” Moreno said. “He has been there when I need him the most, even through my best and worst days.”
Moreno hopes to join the business world after Iona if his career in soccer doesn’t go well, but that may not be the case. Recently, the MAAC champion was contacted by the New York Red Bulls to participate in their winter combine.
“Now, I have to take a step back and think before I make a decision so I can get a picture of what my options are,” Moreno said.