Malibu Vies for Playoff Spot

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Raine Murray scores one of her five goals against Foothill Tech.

With one week left in the regular season, the Malibu High girls water polo team is making one last push for a postseason berth. 

Relying on the senior leadership of driver Raine Murray and goalie Maria Lopez, the Sharks are in a fierce fight to clinch a spot in the CIF playoffs for a ninth consecutive year. 

Currently in third place, Malibu (7-11, 3-4) must finish in the top three of the six-team Frontier League to advance. 

Last week against league-leader Foothill Tech, Malibu fought back from several large deficits only to lose 17-10. The Sharks demonstrated plenty of resolve and resilience, rallying down from 6-0 and 12-3 to make a game of it. 

Trailing 12-3 early in the third period, Murray jump-started a struggling Sharks’ offense with a beautiful goal. Surveying the crystal blue landscape, Murray rose up high above the defense and fired a pinpoint accurate shot into the upper right hand corner of the goal. 

Moments later, Murray found sophomore Zoe Detweiler wide open, who promptly skipped a shot past the Dragon goalie. Three more Malibu goals followed, forcing Foothill Tech to call a timeout. In the blink of an eye, the Sharks were back in the match, trailing 12-8. 

During the timeout, Malibu coach Hayden Goldberg urged his young team to keep playing together and stay the course. 

After Foothill Tech responded scoring three straight goals, the Sharks tallied back-to-back goals before ultimately losing to the Dragons. 

“There is no stop or quitting. You can just learn from trying your hardest throughout the whole game,” said Murray, who scored a team-high five goals. “We’ve had to practice a lot because we have so many new players. We’re getting better playing as a team, which has helped us be successful.” 

Following the graduation of five experienced seniors from last year’s squad, Goldberg has nurtured and mentored three freshmen and two sophomores who have gained valuable knowledge and playing time this season. 

“We’ve progressed as a team since the beginning of the season,” freshman Sophie Spivack said. “We just want to become more of a team like a family. We’re getting there.” 

A victory one week earlier, when the Sharks defeated Nordhoff, 10-5, gave MHS a confidence boost heading into the Foothill Tech matchup. 

“We have to stay positive as a team. The girls are playing real solid together,” Goldberg said. “They now understand what we do in practice is for every game. We had a plan coming into this game and we succeeded in doing it. We didn’t allow certain players to score and did our best against their top players.” 

Murray continued her outstanding play two days later, scoring four goals with three steals and two assists in a hard-fought 12-7 loss at second place Carpinteria. The Warriors led 8-7 before breaking away with four late goals. Malibu previously lost a heartbreaker to Carpinteria, 10-9, in double overtime on January 14. 

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our offense working in the fourth period,” Goldberg said. “Carpinteria sealed the game with our mistakes.” 

Malibu’s last home game is Senior Day on Friday at 3:15 p.m. against Villanova Prep. The Sharks won the first meeting this season, 15-10. The season concludes on the road at Nordhoff on February 11. 

All eyes will be on clinching a berth in the CIF playoffs beginning this week. “We’ve all been trying so hard and playing the best that we can play,” said Murray. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season and making it to the playoffs.