Girls Soccer Ends with Strong Postseason Play

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The Malibu High School girls varsity soccer team finishes the season and makes it to the CIF playoffs. Pictured: junior forward Sasha Savitsky at a game earlier this season

After starting the 2014-15 season with a 1-8-1 record, the Sharks girls varsity soccer team ended the campaign by winning three games in two postseason tournaments. 

Sharks’ head coach Jack Craig said the season was a huge success and that the team overcame a lot of adversity due to injuries. 

“Our goal was to win league and get into the CIF playoffs, which we did,” Craig said. “We wanted to go further than last year, which would have just been one win, but we got two and knocked-off the number one ranked team in Division IV. Then we got invited to the state regional tournament. We far exceeded where we thought we would go.”

After capturing the Tri-Valley League regular season title, the Sharks went 2-1 in the 2015 CIF Southern Section Girls Soccer Playoff. Malibu won one contest in the 2015 CIF Southern California Regional Girls Soccer Championships before falling to eventual champion Maranatha High on March 12. The loss ended Malibu’s season. 

Malibu’s postseason started off in the five-round CIF Southern Section playoffs with a 5-3 win over Malborough High on Feb. 19. After leaving the game with an eye injury, junior forward Sasha Savitsky returned and scored two goals to lead the Sharks to victory. 

In the second round game on Feb. 24, the Sharks knocked off the playoff’s number one seed, the Serrano Diamondbacks, who entered the game with a 22-1 record. 

Craig said Malibu, who finished the season with a 12-11-2 record, scored three goals in 18 minutes against the Diamondbacks, who bolstered one of the top defenses in the state.

“Beating Serrano was the highlight of the season and measured where we were as a team,” Craig said. 

On Feb. 26, Malibu was defeated in the quarterfinals by Poly High, 1-0.

After the southern section playoffs, the Sharks were invited to participate in the three-round CIF Southern Regionals, which featured eight teams aiming for the title. 

Malibu downed Port of Los Angeles in the opening round on March 10 with a score of 1-0. Two days later, Maranatha beat Malibu 3-2. Maranatha overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit and scored the winning goal with four minutes left. 

An injury bug bit the Sharks early in the season and contributed to a dismal record. Malibu was plagued so much by injuries that Craig began putting junior varsity soccer players on the varsity roster in order to field a team. Once the Sharks got healthy, they went on a tear through the Tri-Valley League. The Sharks captured the conference title with a 10-1 record. 

Craig said the Sharks lived up to their “One team, one goal” motto this year. 

“In the face of so much adversity — injuries, a tough schedule,” he said, “our young junior varsity players just fell right into the fold and when we needed them, they stepped up. They helped us. It was a really positive experience.” 

Craig said the defining moment of the season came after a three-game stretch between Jan. 16 -23. During that stretch, the Sharks had won a contest, lost one and tied one. 

“If we wanted to win league, it was at that point that we needed to step up our game and not fall short, even though we weren’t 100 percent healthy,” said Craig. “From that moment on, we won every game and seven of the last eight games, we shutout. They weren’t going to be denied.”

In addition to grabbing a large share of wins late in the season, the Sharks also raked in Tri-Valley League postseason awards and recognitions. Senior Seaira Moore was named goal keeper of the year and sophomore Abby Blackwood was named defensive player of the year. Junior forward Savistsky, senior forward and mid-fielder Michaela Cosentino, and senior forward and mid-fielder Renie Walzcuk were named to the All-Tri-Valley League first team. Junior defender Britty Walley, sophomore defender Maya Silardi and senior defender Mia Green were named to the All-Tri-Valley League second team. 

The Sharks will lose five graduating players heading into next year, but Craig sees a bright future for the squad. 

“We are losing some key players,” he said. “Those players will be hard to replace, not only from a soccer standpoint, but from a leadership and character standpoint. I have some great young players.” 

Craig said each of the Sharks contributed to a successful season on and off the field.

“They battled,” he said. “They played hard all season.”