Following last season’s 14-14 record and a second place finish in the Tri-Valley League, the Malibu High School boys water polo team is aiming for an even better season in 2010. To prepare for this, the players have participated in numerous summer practices and a grueling hell week. After losing only a few seniors last year, head coach Mike Mulligan is confident in his team this season.
“We are a lot stronger for two reasons,” Mulligan said. “We only lost a couple of seniors last year and basically our entire starting team is back with more experience than last year.”
Most of the starting lineup this year is made up of seniors. Mulligan called this year’s senior class the strongest he has had since the one from 2008, a year in which the Sharks reached the CIF finals.
While the team will mostly look the same this season, the competition will not. This is because the Sharks were moved down from division four to division six. As of now, Malibu is ranked third in the entire division behind Rio Mesa and the Sharks’ main rival and last year’s league champion, Oaks Christian.
“This year we will have some good opportunities to play and beat both of those teams,” Mulligan said.
In addition to regular practice and conditioning, Mulligan has had the team revamp its entire offense this summer. Mulligan said this year’s team is more versatile than last year’s squad, and he has added some new offensive plays that will play to the Sharks’ strengths. With this new offense and the amount of talent and experience on the team, Mulligan said he believes the Sharks have a good shot at winning the league and advancing deep in the CIF playoffs.
“Our goal is the same as it is every year,” Mulligan said. “We want to win league and go to CIF finals.”
Many of the players agree with Mulligan that they can do this.
“A lot of our strongest players last year were juniors,” said Ryan Brown, a senior and one of the captains of the varsity squad. “So this year we are better and more experienced as seniors.”
Brown, along with fellow seniors Kris Kaliakin, Erik Philbrick, Austin Daniels, Brandon Tran and James Burnett will lead the Sharks this year. They hope to set a good example for the younger players on the team.
“This year I want to play hard and be a role model to some of the younger guys,” Brown said.
There are a some juniors that also will contribute to the Sharks’ success this year. Among them are Micheal Mitze and Drew Dvorsky.
“My goal this year is to play as hard as I can and get the best play out of my training,” Dvorsky said.
The season begins this week on Thursday with the Conejo Classic Tournament.