‘One Team, One Goal:’ Girls Soccer Begins Season

From left, Sasha Savitsky, Seaira Moore and Britty Walley are the team captains for the Lady Sharks this season.

Months before a ball hit the soccer pitch, the Malibu High girls squad took part in team-building activities they hope will lead to success on the field. 

The Sharks had a couple of summer practices and get-togethers that focused on team bonding, said second-year Sharks head coach Jack Craig. 

“Our focus was not about soccer, because most of them play competitive club soccer anyway,” he said. “I think what is going to give us an advantage [over opponents] is that we came together for bonding, introductions and expectations; and it was being done by the leadership on the team not me as a coach.” 

Craig said one action that cemented the Sharks’ bond is when team captains — senior goalkeeper Seaira Moore, junior defender Britty Walley, and junior defender and forward Sasha Sivitsky — sent a welcome to Malibu soccer email to all the players and their parents. 

“It speaks volumes for my three captains,” he said. “It touched a lot of the players.” 

The captains’ email, welcoming freshmen junior varsity players to high school, and other offseason togetherness activities are all in-line with the Sharks’ “One team, one goal motto” that Craig said will guide the Sharks, who are coming off of a 15-9-1 regular season and an appearance in the first round of the CIF playoffs. 

Craig said having an all-inclusive team environment does wonders. 

“Where other schools were focused strictly on soccer,” he said, “we were focused more on a team concept of togetherness that will allow them to play more for each other.” 

Ideally, playing for each other encompasses cheering each other on, making the extra pass on offense, having each other’s backs on defense and plenty of ticks in the win column. 

Malibu defeated Calabasas High 3-0 in a Wed., Nov. 24, scrimmage, and was scheduled to kick off its season on Monday, Dec. 1 with three games on three consecutive days. Malibu plays Sierra Canyon High twice and Rio Mesa High for one game. On Friday, the Sharks take on Bishop Alemany High School in the Westlake Showcase at 5 p.m. 

Craig said the four-game slate the first week of the season will be a good measuring stick for the Sharks. 

“We are playing against three of the top programs in the area,” he said. 

Last season the Sharks finished in third place in the Tri- Valley League before losing in the opening round of the CIF playoffs against Flintridge Prep. Craig said he expects the team to build off that success from last year. 

Along with the three captains, Craig expects sophomores Abby Blackwood, a midfielder, and Francesca Mujic, a forward and midfielder, to be team leaders. 

“They are going to be key sophomores from an on-field presence because of the way they play with a passion, he said. “… The young players identify with them because they are younger players that are getting it done on the field.” 

Inspiring the younger teammates and the welcoming events for the players could already pay dividends for the Sharks in the early portion of their season. Due to injuries suffered while playing volleyball, Ara Bolander, Michaela Cosentino and Ally Mastripollito will not be able to take the field until later this month or early January. 

Craig said a few junior varsity freshmen will be promoted to varsity to take the injured players’ places. 

“I want them to make their mark on the program early because they are the future,” he said. 

Craig said the “One team, one goal” motto involves the Sharks being 100 percent committed mentally, to each other and to the Sharks’ ball control on the field. 

“I think the progression is the returning players have bought into what we are trying to accomplish,” he said. “So as soon as we got started they brought that to the table. One team, one goal, they are really, really excited about the season. They have bought into that thought.”