With back-to-back wins last week against the Oaks Christian School, the Malibu High School girls water polo team clinched its seventh consecutive league title. The Sharks enter the California Interscholastic Federation Division VI playoffs with an overall record of 16-10 and will play at Savanna High School in a first-round matchup on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“Winning the title again was great for the girls. It was a great league season and I look forward to the playoffs,” Malibu Coach Meredith Butte said.
Coming off a decisive 16-2 victory against Nordhoff, Malibu traveled to Carpinteria where the Sharks lost a tough contest, 8-7. In order to win another league championship, the Sharks knew they had to defeat Oaks Christian twice in a three-day span.
Responding to the challenge like true champions, MHS swept the Lions 11-3 and 5-2 to share the title with Carpinteria. Both schools finished with 9-1 marks in the Tri-Valley League.
The focus now shifts to the CIF playoffs, where the Sharks hope to avoid a first round defeat as they experienced in 2012. Despite being seeded ninth out of 22 teams and sharing a league title, Malibu must travel on the road as the Tri-Valley League’s No. 2 team after losing the coin flip to Carpinteria for the league’s No. 1 entry.
Their opponents, Savanna of Anaheim, won the Orange League title. The Rebels reached the Division VII semifinals last season and have won 22 games this year.
“The girls know what they have to do, and at this point it is up to them,” Butte said. “Blake Baldwin (Butte’s assistant) and I have given them all the tools, now they just have to go out and fight hard. CIF is a challenge, and they are ready.”
The Malibu boys soccer program continues to improve under second-year head coach Lloyd Kinnear. The Sharks completed an 11-4-1 campaign, finishing 6-4 in the tough Tri-Valley League and taking third place.
Malibu began its postseason journey in CIF Division IV with a wild-card game Wednesday against Chino, after The Malibu Times went to press. The winner will advance to the first round on Friday at Valencia High School.
“The team is peaking at the right time. We are ready for the playoffs,” Kinnear said before the match. “Unlike last year when we weren’t healthy for the playoffs, we are healthy this year and ready to make a run. We could win it.”
Sophomore Max Watkin recorded nine shutouts on the season with spectacular goaltending. Junior Jacob Gooden anchored a defense that allowed only 11 goals on the year. On the offensive side of the pitch, senior Adam Fote led an offense that scored 72 goals.
“Max has been unbelievable, Jacob is the Rock of Gibraltar and Adam is as good as they come,” Kinnear said.
The Sharks didn’t lose a contest during their pre-season slate. During league action, MHS beat Oaks Christian for the second consecutive season, a first for the Sharks’ program. Additionally, Malibu finished ahead of Oaks Christian in the league standings for the first time in the school’s history.
Malibu ended the regular season by upsetting league champion Santa Paula, 3-1, on Senior Night and shutting out Oak Park, 6-0, in its last game prior to the playoffs. Sophomore James Handal had a hat trick (three goals) and an assist against Oak Park while the stellar all-around play of senior captain Zach Le has strengthened the Sharks on both sides of the ball.
Despite an outstanding season from junior center Justin Holmes, the Sharks had a rough first-year in the Tri-Valley League as they struggled to a 7-19 overall record and 1-9 in the TVL. Holmes averaged 17.6 points per game while grabbing 12.3 rebounds per game.
However, MHS was granted an at-large berth into the CIF Division IVA playoffs and were scheduled to play at No. 2 seed Brentwood Wednesday. “We will give it our best shot,” Malibu Coach Bobby Tenorio said before the game.
The Malibu girls soccer team finished 9-7-3 and 4-6-2 in the Tri-Valley League. The Sharks placed fifth, only one point behind La Reina but did not make the CIF Division III playoffs.