When the 2011-12 Malibu High boys soccer season came to an end, a disappointed Malibu coach Lloyd Kinnear proclaimed in a post-season interview that “Malibu will be a force to be reckoned with” and he would be “definitely looking forward to taking care of business next year.” Well, that was no joke.
Determined to make a statement to the Tri-Valley League and its opponents, the Sharks have roared out of the gate to start this season, outscoring their first two opponents 28-0. Those maulings were followed by a hard-earned tie against a tough Beverly Hills side. The Sharks are looking to build upon last season when they won 12 matches and finished third in the league.
“We will have a stronger team this year than we did last year. We are more technically sound now that all of our players play club soccer year round,” Kinnear said. “It has made us more prepared for the season. As a result, we are playing really well. The guys are very confident.”
Each of the 18 players on the MHS roster plays club soccer in the offseason against elite competition throughout Southern California. The offseason work appears to be paying dividends on the field for the Sharks.
Malibu kicked off the year by defeating Crossroads, 6-5, in a scrimmage. Crossroads came in as the defending Division III CIF Southern California Regional champions.
“Even though it was only a scrimmage, to beat them at their place was big for our program,” Kinnear said.
With a strong performance on the road under their belt, the Sharks officially opened the 2012-13 season with a smashing performance in the first game on campus under the new field lights. Malibu walloped Saint Bonaventure, 11-0, behind four goals from sophomore Cameron Smoller who did the damage in just 20 minutes off the bench.
Santa Clara became the next victim the following week. The Saints were overwhelmed in every facet of the game as MHS delivered a 17-0 pasting. Senior striker and co-captain Adam Fote scored four goals and contributed four assists. Senior midfielder and co-captain Zach Le was influential throughout the match with four assists and his distribution and crisp passes were the foundation of Malibu’s attacking plays for the night.
The Sharks then traveled to Beverly Hills to take on the Normans, the No. 10 ranked team in CIF Division IV. After a hotly contested 80 minutes of action, the game ended in a tie at two apiece. Fote scored his eighth goal of the season while Smoller netted his sixth. Junior Jake Gooden and senior Luke Campbell led the defense, shutting down Beverly Hills’ counterattacks and aerial plays.
Last year, Malibu finished a strong 2011-12 campaign with a record of 12-5- 2. Highlights included defeating Oaks Christian for the first time in seven years on the Lions’ home turf. MHS also swept the season series from Oak Park. The season came to a sudden halt with a stunning loss to Wilson High School in a Division V playoff wild card game.
Kinnear has higher expectations for this year. “I love the direction we are going. Last year the team wanted to win. This year they expect to win,” said Kinnear, who previously won two league titles and a CIF Championship as coach of the MHS girls. “They made the mental changes from last season. They believe they can win it all; league and CIF.”
Fote, Le and junior midfielder Ari Taublieb form a potent offensive trio that has helped Malibu outscore the opposition, 30-2, in the first three games. Sophomore forward James Handal, the fastest player on the Malibu roster, transferred in to MHS and will be eligible to play January 1. He is expected to make a significant impact. Last season the Sharks tallied 70 goals and that mark may be threatened by these talented players.
Campbell, Gooden, sophomore stopper Jake Nokes and sophomore goalkeeper Max Watkin will anchor the Sharks defense.
After finishing in third place last season behind Oaks Christian and Carpinteria, Kinnear feels he has the pieces to overtake his team’s biggest foes and claim a league championship.
“I told the team, ‘Let’s make a statement this year,’” Kinnear said. “I believe we can beat those teams. An injury-free team will give us a chance to be league and CIF champs.”
Malibu will host Los Angeles Baptist on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 5:15 p.m.