Malibu High girls soccer eyes big season

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The MHS girls’ varsity soccer team is 4-0 and looking for more. Photo courtesy of John Johnstone

Coming off a third-place finish in the Tri-Valley League last year, the Malibu High School girls soccer team is brimming with confidence after an undefeated start to the 2011-12 season. Coach John Johnstone returns nine of 11 starters from the team that went 11-8-1 in 2010-11, and he feels this year’s squad has the ability to win a league title and possibly make another run at a California Interscholastic Federation championship.

“This is a great group of girls,” said Johnstone, who led Malibu to the 2010 CIF Division VI title. “Our goal is to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. This team has a will to win and a lot of energy.”

Senior goalkeeper Maddie Clarfield leads the way for the Sharks this year. The defensive stalwart has yet to concede a goal this season as Malibu has sprinted to a 4-0 record, including a significant 1-0 victory over Brentwood.

Clarfield is a three-year starter and first-team all-league honoree from last year. Next season she heads east to attend the University of Michigan on a soccer scholarship.

“She is the backbone of our defense,” Johnston said. “She is extremely good and such an invaluable player for us.”

Joining Clarfield on the defensive side of the ball is Jane Sidley, a sophomore sweeper whom Johnstone calls “an incredible soccer player,” and senior defender Coral Silverberg.

While the defense appears to be the strength of this year’s squad, the Sharks have scored 13 goals in its first four games. Sophomore midfielder Danica Downing controls the center of the field offensively and defensively, while senior midfielder Paige Stoker provides the leadership from the left wing.

“They are two of our key players this year,” said Johnstone, who enters his seventh season as head coach of the Sharks. “They do a nice job of keeping the game at our pace.”

Newcomers Michaela Cosentino and Carmen Flood have made such a positive and immediate impact on offense that they have each earned starting roles at forward. The two freshmen forwards add strong ability to an already talented and experienced team. Their early play has Johnstone referring to Cosentino and Flood as the “future of the program.”

Standing in the way of a potential league championship and the school’s third league soccer title is powerhouse Oaks Christian, which went undefeated in Tri-Valley League action last season and 26-2-1 overall en route to the CIF-Southern Section title and a CIF regional championship.

Malibu has never beaten the Lions in its history, but this year they get two shots at them. The first comes on Jan. 4 at Oaks Christian, with the return date on Jan. 25 at MHS. Johnstone lists a playoff berth, a league title and beating the Lions as the team’s main goals this season, challenges he does not shrink from.

“We can achieve those goals,” Johnstone said. “It’s been incredible being a part of this program. Winning breeds happiness and success. I have girls who want to win.”

Malibu will host Viewpoint on Fri., Dec. 16, at 3:15 p.m. before taking a break until the Jan. 4 tilt at Oaks Christian, its first league game.