Malibu Girls Soccer Close to League Title

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Reni Walzcuk of Malibu (left) battles for possession during the Sharks’ upset of St. Bonaventure.

After a dismal start to the season, the Malibu High girls soccer team has bounced back into contention of the Tri-County League title. 

Heading into Wednesday night’s contest at the Santa Paula Cardinals, the Sharks (5-9-2) have won four of their last six games, including two dominating performances last week. 

After the first of last week’s wins, Malibu head coach Jack Craig said an injury bug bit the Sharks during their 1-8-1 start. 

“At one point we had seven varsity players out,” he said. “We were canceling junior varsity games in order to be able to field a team. We are now finally healthy. Some of our injured players just started playing within the last week. The team has endured and overcome, so that puts them in the right position.” 

As of press time, the squad had a 4-1 league record, and sits one game behind the Cardinals. If the Sharks knock off Santa Paula, a team that beat Malibu on Jan. 16, the Sharks will have the best record in the conference with three games left on the schedule. 

Craig said the key to this season’s turnaround has been the leadership from the Shark’s captains – senior goalkeeper Seaira Moore, sophomore Abby Blackwood, and junior defenders Britty Wally and Sasha Savitsky. 

“They kept the team together,” he said. “They believed as long as we maintained our composure and continued to work hard and continued to battle as soon as we got our players back we would be where we expected to be when the season started.” 

The Sharks have fought back. Last week’s wins over the St. Bonaventure Seraphs and the Bishop Diego Cardinals, both region opponents, were by a combined score of 9-1. 

During the 4-1 win over St. Bonaventure on Jan. 28, Malibu controlled the contest’s tempo a majority of the time. The Sharks peppered the Seraphs’ goal with multiple shot attempts. 

Junior midfielder and defender Alex Plank scored first for the Sharks. Senior defender Mia Green scored next. Blackwood and junior forward and defender Ally Mastripollito also scored during the contest. 

Craig said the Sharks played with a lot of intensity. 

“The girls played within our system, although they dominated the game their work-rate went way up, which put a lot of pressure on St. Bonaventure,” he said. “For us it not only needed to be a win, but a decisive win.” 

Against the Seraphs, three of Malibu’s four goals came outward of 24 yards away from St. Bonaventure’s net. Craig said that is key to the Shark’s offensive production. 

“What we have worked on the last few weeks of practice is when we get in shooting range that we want the girls taking the shots from 25 [yards] in, at least to start the game, which normally opens up the defense for penetration,” he said. 

St. Bonaventure scored on a free kick that skimmed over the fingertips of an outstretched Moore. Moore had five saves during the contest. 

Malibu defeated Bishop Diego 5-0 two days later. 

This season Malibu has also knocked off conference foe Nordoff. The Sharks tied La Reina in a late January game. After the Santa Paula game, the Sharks will play Nordoff, La Reina and St. Bonaventure again before closing out the regular season. 

The coach said he expects the Sharks to end the season as Tri-Valley League champs. 

“We believe from what we have seen so far that we are the best team player-for-player in the Tri-Valley Conference,” said Craig. “Tactically, technically, athletically from number one to number 15, we have a strong team.”