Seeking its fifth consecutive trip to the postseason, the Malibu girls soccer team faces an uphill challenge to reach that goal after suffering a 4-1 loss to Oaks Christian last week. The Sharks are faced with the prospect of winning all of their remaining games to have a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
“We have to run the table,” Malibu Coach John Johnstone said. “We have to win them all.”
Malibu is currently in fifth place in the Tri-Valley League with a 2-4-1 mark (seven points) and 7-5-2 overall. The top four teams earn an automatic berth into the CIF Southern Section Division III playof fs. As of press time, the Sharks trailed fourth-place La Reina (3-3-1) by three points. A team earns three points for a win and a single point for a tie. MHS must win its final four games in league play during the next eight days. The arduous task begins this Friday at Grace Brethren followed by contests against Oak Park, La Reina and Carpinteria.
On a crystal clear night in Westlake V illage, Malibu had the unenviable task of playing Oaks Christian, the No. 1 ranked team in Division III. The Lions had defeated the Sharks, 3-0, back on Jan. 7. Throw in the fact that Malibu had never beaten Oaks Christian in girls soccer before, and the challenge was sure to be daunting.
It became even more difficult just two-and-a-half minutes into the contest when the Lions’ Alexandra Bruder fired a 19-yard shot into the upper right hand corner of the net to give Oaks Christian the early 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later, goalie Megan Meredith of Oaks Christian made a nice save reaching above her head to corral a strong shot from Malibu’s Karena Thompson.
Malibu committed a major mistake in the 21st minute when an er rant pass from a Sharks defender rolled by goaltender Searra Moore to give the Lions a 2-0 advantage.
The Sharks, however, refused to give in and cut the deficit in half on a sensational play by Carmen Flood. The sophomore for ward made a few slick moves with her feet, eluding two Lion defenders and ripping a shot inside the right side of the far post with 15:46 left in the first half.
Trailing 2-1, the Sharks entered halftime with renewed hope and confidence in their quest to upset the Lions.
But Oaks Christian (12-3-2, 8-0) struck quickly early in the second half when Amber Goldberg scored off a corner kick. The Lions iced the game with 19 minutes left when Megan Demijohn collected a missed shot and knocked in the loose ball to complete the 4-1 scoreline.
Despite the disappointing result, Malibu’s coach felt like there were positives to take away from the game.
“I thought we played well as a team,” Johnstone said. “We played aggressively and didn’t sit back against Oaks like we have in the past.”
With only four seniors on its roster this season, MHS hasn’t had the experience to rely on as it navigates through the tough Tri-Valley League. However, with six freshmen and 16 lettermen expected to return for next season, the future remains bright for the Sharks.
Can Malibu flip over the hourglass to prolong its year? The season hangs in the balance these next eight days.
“We are back at full strength,” Johnstone said about the injuries that have impeded the team’s progress this season. “We have to keep improving each game if you want to make playoffs. We have to get after these teams.”