After graduating seven seniors who led the Sharks to the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV quarterfinals last season, and 45 wins in the past three years, the Malibu High girls soccer team refuses to just be average for the 2012-13 season. This year’s squad intends to rely on experience and an infusion of young talent to maintain its solid foundation.
“There is a lot of pride in this program. I know how important the girls take it,” Malibu Coach John Johnstone said. “We have fun at practice but the girls take our history very serious. We are excited this year. It’s a young squad but a great squad.”
Johnstone begins his seventh season at the helm for the lady Sharks. In 2010 he led MHS to the CIF Division VI title, and the team has made three quarterfinal appearances over the last four seasons. Malibu comes off a 2011-12 campaign where it went 13-5-4 and made a magical run in the CIF postseason playoffs.
Looking for its first league title since winning back-to-back Tri- Valley League championships in 2009 and 2010, Malibu will turn to four seniors and a group of talented underclassmen that includes six freshmen.
“Since my first year here, this is probably the best freshman class we’ve had. We have a roster of 23 girls on varsity, which we haven’t had that many in four seasons,” Johnstone said. “The next four years we are going to make some noise. I hope to continue to play like we have the last four years.”
Malibu has earned a postseason berth for four consecutive seasons. In order to make it five, seniors Kate Klevit and Alexis Hada need to be the steadying influence to steady the ship throughout the season. Both girls were members of the 2010 CIF championship team.
“Kate leads by example through her work ethic. She is one of our captains and is the backbone of our defense,” said Johnstone about his four-year starter. “She proudly wears her CIF ring to remind the girls of the legacy here. I have absolute confidence in both of them.”
Klevit and Hada will be joined on defense by junior sweeper and three-year starter Jane Sidley, freshman Sasha Savitsky and sophomore goalkeeper Searra Moore. Sidley earned first-team honors in the Tri- Valley League last season.
“My back four needs to be as solid as ever,” Johnstone said. “It all begins there for us. Jane has done a tremendous job since her freshman year.”
Moore replaces three-year starter Maddie Clarfield in goal. Clarfield had an illustrious career for MHS on her way to the University of Michigan. Moore has no varsity experience but Johnstone is very confident in the young goalie.
“Searra will have a lot of pressure on her since she has never started a varsity game before,” Johnstone said. “But she’s a good keeper. She’s a fighter and a great soccer player. I have no fear there.”
The Sharks will be strong on the offensive side of the ball with the return of five key players. Juniors Danica Downing, Karena Thompson and Casey Conrad and sophomores Michaela Cosentino and Carmen Flood form a potent group of ladies who can score with the best of them.
Downing and Flood control the midfield while Thompson, a three-year starter at striker, Cosentino and Conrad dictate the flow of the game up front on offense.
“The midfield is really strong and our forwards are very good technically,” Johnstone said.
Other freshmen to keep an eye on are Britty Walley and Brittany Kinnear.
Malibu is off to a strong 3-0 start so far with victories against Blair, 13-0, Brentwood, 6-1, and Viewpoint, 4-1. Johnstone anticipates a good preseason in time for Tri-Valley League action that begins against Oaks Christian on January 7 at MHS in a Monday game. The Sharks have yet to beat the Lions in school history.
“The girls want Oaks. That’s our big goal every year. We have yet to beat them,” Johnstone explained. “We have made the playoffs four years in a row. We want to keep that roll going. That’s the whole goal. All of our girls have experienced the playoffs. These girls want to win and they have that legacy that they want to carry on.”