Girls waterpolo falls in tight postseason thriller

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Gianna Fote scores in the Sharks' victory over Chadwick High School. Photo by Seth and Sam Rubinroit

The Malibu High School girls water polo team advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs after a thrilling come-from-behind victory Thursday. But the Sharks season came to an end two days later with an 8-7 loss against Louisville High School in a game where the winning goal was scored with less than a second remaining on the clock.

The Sharks (21-9 overall and 12-0 in league play) automatically advanced to the second round of the playoffs after earning a first-round bye by winning the Tri-Valley league. In the second-round game against Chadwick High School (15-8), the Sharks trailed by three goals as late as the third quarter. However, Malibu refused to give up, and with a little more than a minute to go in the fourth quarter, Rachel Whittemore stepped up with a goal that tied the game at six.

In overtime, Searra Silverberg, Gianna Fote and Katie Rollins each scored to give the Sharks a satisfying 9-7 victory. Reilley Lippman, Alex Dossett and Maggie Lawson rounded out the scoring for the Sharks.

“I started to freak out,” said Dossett, a senior, about the early deficit. “But, I knew the team was going to be there, and we all stepped up, every single one of us.”

In the third-round quarterfinal game Saturday, the Sharks played a nail-biter with Louisville High School (20-11) at home. With seconds to play, the score was tied at seven. In a heartbreaking ending, Louisville first shot and missed, only to have Louisville’s Heidi Carlson snatch the rebound and score the winning goal with .8 seconds on the clock, for an 8-7 win.

The Sharks were led by Silverberg, who had four goals. Fote, Dossett, and Whittemore also scored in the hard-fought loss. The Malibu players were disappointed with the loss, but proud they made it so far in the playoffs. It gave the very young Sharks squad a valuable experience that they hope will translate to success next season.

“This shows the girls what real water polo is,” Silverberg said. “We have a lot of young girls, so it kind of shows us where we need to grow and what we could become.”