Derek Maltz is only a sophomore, and he’s already crafting a legacy as the next great SU crease man. He’s leading the team in points and goals, and took his dominance one step further last night against Hobart by scoring a career-high six times as part of a narrow 13-12 victory. While not the blitzkrieg it dropped on Rutgers, SU is keeping its NCAA Tournament hopes flickering with another win.
The deadly shooter has lacrosse’s biggest pair of shoes to fill, playing the same position as the first families of SU lax – the Gaits and Powells. But Maltz is blazing his own path, and he’s not concerned with fame or glory, readily giving credit to his teammates for his success.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s pretty cool to be able to lead the team in points. But my success is only part of what the other guys on my team are doing. I try to find lanes and get into shooting spots, and we have such talented feeders on this team that they can hit me and I’m able to find the back of the net.”
Maltz hails from the small town of Ashburn, Virginia. Even though he grew up watching UVA, it was always his dream to play attack at Syracuse.
“It’s been my goal my entire life to play here. Now that it has finally come true and I’m able to actually contribute, I’m really excited and I just want to contribute in any possible way.”
Maltz didn’t play at a big time high school lacrosse program, but he always had big time potential. Few knew who Maltz was coming in as a freshman. He spent last year in the shadow of former SU crease man Stephen Keogh, and he took notes on the role. Maltz says Keogh helped him raise his game to the next level.
“He was a great guy on and off the field – to me in particular. He helped me out in practice every day last year. We shot a lot together. He would spend time after drills showing me how to time my cuts.”
Though he remains humble in the shadow of his mentor, Maltz has already surpassed Keogh’s mark for most goals in a game. His 6-goal tally yesterday is the first time an Orange has had more than five since ’08.
After Keogh graduated, Maltz became the darkhorse on the attack. He was a promising replacement, but still the unknown commodity on offense. Maltz says he liked moving into the starting role under the radar.
“I liked it. Not many people knew who I was, so other teams had a tough time scouting me. The other coaches didn’t know what my strengths and weaknesses were. To come in and make a name for myself is a pretty cool feeling.”
Maltz has made more than just a name for himself. He’s building a brand, too. He says there is an entire culture behind lacrosse swagger, and it all starts with eye black.
“Eye black is a big part of my swagger. Mikey Powell made the triangle famous, and now little kids wear his design to the games. Mine is pretty generic, just two thick black lines. But I’m working on a trademark design.”
As the old saying goes, the eye black doesn’t make the man. Maltz’s dominance as a finisher is due to his incredible dedication and focus, and he knows it’s the effort he has put in that makes him a starter week in, week out.
“I came from a small area in Virginia, so not many people thought when I was in high school that I’d ever be successful here. My hard work and dedication paid off, and if I could get fans to know that, it would be pretty cool. It just goes to show that you can come from a small area and be pretty successful if you put your mind to it.”
Maltz is putting his mind and his blazing fast shot to it every game, and it’s a big reason why he’s keeping tournament hopes alive for a struggling team down the stretch.
Posted: Jake Moskowitz