Auburn soccer’s Alyssa Malonson continues to etch her name into new record books and awards as she was named the SEC’s Defender of the Year on Sunday. She's the Tigers’ first DPOY since Julie King won the award in 2011.
Malonson has been playing some of the best soccer of her career as she helps propel the Tigers to an 11-4-1 record and a presumptive NCAA tournament bid awaiting the team after the SEC Tournament.
Before being named one of the SEC’s best, Malonson was awarded a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team and multiple Second Team All-SEC honors.
An extra year on the Plains proved to be fruitful for the already drafted defender, as she also made her way to the First Team All-SEC for the first time in her career.
"Being named the SEC Defender of the Year, Alyssa has cemented her legacy at Auburn by joining some of the very best to ever play here," said Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa. "She has been a difference-maker every game so far this year and we look forward to seeing what she will accomplish as a pro next year.”
Her newest recognition gets added to a long list for this season alone. Malonson set the tone early in the year when she was named the SEC Defender of the Week after Auburn’s first game of the season.
She has been pivotal in Auburn’s league-leading seven shutouts and has proven to be one of the Tigers’ stronger two-way players, locking down her backline then shooting up the field to generate scoring chances for the offense. The center back has scored two goals this season, one against the Tigers’ upcoming opponent South Carolina, and added four assists to increase her career assist count to 23.
Malonson, who hails from Spring, Texas, may have gotten some extra motivation before the start of the 2021 campaign, she was snubbed from the 2021 SEC Preseason Watch List. A list she was named to in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The traditional midfielder who is accustomed to attacking almost as much as she defends, found herself in a new role on the pitch when injuries forced her to shift to center back to tighten up Auburn’s backline. She made the shift smooth as butter, filling into her new role like it was meant for her the entire time.
Before heading back to finish her degree and ending her Tiger career in a non-COVID-riddled season, Malonson became the second-highest draftee to the National Women’s Soccer League in program history when she was selected by the NC Courage with the 20th overall pick.
Along with her plentiful league recognitions, Malonson’s name was also frequently listed on nationally recognized Top Drawer Soccer this season as a three-time Top Drawer Team of the Week honoree. She also found herself on the United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-Southeast Region after the 2020 campaign.
While SEC Defender of the Year has a nice ring to it, Malonson still has one goal left in her last few weeks as a Tiger.
“There’s one thing that I still want,” Malonson said back in September. “All-American. So, hopefully, this semester I can get it. I just want my team to succeed honestly. But, that is a little goal for me.”
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Larry is a senior studying journalism with a minor in sociology. He is from Enterprise, Alabama and is in his third year with The Auburn Plainsman.