SWITCHBACKS LA GALAXY II SOCCER
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LA Galaxy II midfielder Emmanuel Appiah (45), left, and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC forward Shane Malcolm (23) fight for the ball at Weidner Stadium on March 17, 2018, in Colorado Springs.

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After scoring his first professional hat trick on a Saturday night in Los Angeles, Colorado Springs Switchbacks winger Shane Malcolm went back to the grind.

Malcolm’s goals in the 10th, 48th and 76th minutes propelled the visiting Colorado Springs club to a season-opening 4-1 win over LA Galaxy II. It was not only a first for Malcolm, but also for the club, which went without a hat trick in its first four seasons.

“Obviously it’s an honor, but I couldn’t have done it without the boy Mike Seth,” said Malcolm, giving a nod to the forward who played him the ball for each score.

Malcolm earned United Soccer League Championship player of the week and helped his club to the top of the Western Conference standings after one week thanks to a plus-three goal differential.

With plenty of cause for celebration, Malcolm says he went to express his creativity off the pitch after taking a well-earned game ball with him on his way out of the stadium.

“I had a couple friends in town, a couple music friends, actually,” Malcolm said. “We kinda just went to the studio after the game and chopped it up there.”

There was no shortage of creativity from Malcolm on the field Saturday.

Saeed Robinson seeking to start where he left off for Colorado Springs Switchbacks

Even before his first score, Malcolm had a couple of successful one-on-one dribbles including an impressive nutmeg to get out of the corner in the seventh minute.

“That was the first time I’ve played with (right back Ibrahim) Yaro on that side. He kept giving me the ball and I was like, ‘Ah, I’m going to love this,’” Malcolm recalled. “I kinda got comfortable early on in the game, got a couple touches in early and when that happened it kinda boosted my confidence a bit to, yeah, keep going forward.”

The Jamaican-born Guam international scored his first of the season off Alex Molano’s in-swinging corner kick that met Seth’s run to the far post. Seth headed it back across goal right to Malcolm, who nodded it in from a couple of yards away.

Malcolm’s second came when he ran past the Galaxy defense and got on the end of a sharply cut through ball from Seth, whose work went unappreciated by the statistician after Malcolm’s initial shot was slightly deflected before he cleaned up for a 2-0 lead.

Switchbacks history was made later when Molano scooped up a ball over the defense to Seth, who again found Malcolm in a dangerous position. One touch later, Malcolm had his hat trick with a shot to the lower left side of goal.

“To me, it was just me putting myself in the right places at the right time,” Malcolm said.

His third goal made it 4-0 after Jordan Burt headed home a well-placed cross from new left back Ish Jome.

“The chemistry feels unreal,” Malcolm said. “Even with guys coming down from the Rapids, those guys, they come here and they’re hungry, they want to play and also they’re invested in football.”

The video accompanying his single “Wishy Washy,” featured some Colorado Springs scenes and racked up a couple of thousand hits on YouTube in the same week he scored his first professional hat trick.

There was plenty to celebrate, but Malcolm seems to find little time for that ahead of Saturday's home opener against Sacramento, one of 12 teams in the 18-team Western Conference to draw in Week 1.

“Took the weekend, took it in, but that’s in the past now,” Malcolm said.

“Sacramento is a good team. They have a very good offensive unit and a great keeper in goal. It’s going to be a tough game. Obviously, we’ve just got to put the work in this week.”

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