Emotional loss ends MHS girls water polo season

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The Sharks' Alyse Larkin handles the ball in Malibu's first-round playoff loss to Thousand Oaks. Stephan Dorman/TMT

Sharks come up just short against Thousand Oaks in first-round playoff match.

By Stephen Dorman/Special to The Malibu Times

The realization that their season had ended following a 6-4 loss at home to Thousand Oaks in the opening round of the CIF Division IV playoffs Friday afternoon brought several Malibu High School girls water polo players to tears. It was an emotional conclusion to an otherwise stellar season.

“Senior year everything comes to a close and you start a new chapter in your life,” senior Harben Porter said. “But it has just really hit me that this was the last game of my high school water polo career. I’ve been playing with my best friends on this team for the last four years, and it’s really heartbreaking to know that this is the end.”

Despite the first-round playoff defeat, the Sharks (17-10, 8-0 in league play) accomplished something no other girls water polo team in school history had done by going undefeated in the Frontier League.

“Just to know that we set a goal to go undefeated and we accomplished it is the greatest thing ever,” senior goalie Alex Wolf said.

Head coach Tim Segesman, who has led MHS to two league titles in his three years at the helm, said the loss to Thousand Oaks (22-7, 8-4 in the Marmonte League) was his team’s finest all-around effort of the season.

“I haven’t seen them play a better game than this,” Segesman said. “I’m so proud of these girls because they never gave up and they fought to the very end. I’m somewhat lost…choked up with words. But this team amazes me. They have accomplished a lot this year.”

The Sharks took an early 1-0 lead in the match when sophomore whole-set Sophia Sarlo’s wrap-around shot found the back of the net at the 3:27 mark in the first period.

Wolf kept the Lancers off the scoreboard with a one-handed deflection on a breakaway shot early in the second period that prolonged the Sharks’ 1-0 lead. However, less than 30 seconds later, Thousand Oaks’ junior Caitlin Meehan tied the score at 1-1 on a shot from the middle of the pool.

Thousand Oaks built a 3-1 lead on back-to-back scores from juniors Kat Plummer and Katie Erickson midway through the second period. MHS answered back just before intermission when Stephanie Marinello beat Lancers’ goalie Chelsea Rohrbach, making the score 3-2 at halftime.

In the third period, Thousand Oaks extended its lead to 4-2 on Plummer’s second goal of the game. Harley Enston added another goal at the 5:01 mark of the third period to push the Lancers’ lead to 5-2. But the Sharks refused to go down without a fight.

MHS junior field Seana Diemer scored less than two minutes into the final period on a crisp pass from Kristen Whittemore to make the score 5-3. With the game clock running down, Sarlo scored for the second time in the contest to bring the Sharks within striking distance at 5-4 with 1:23 remaining in the match.

However, Plummer dashed any hopes of a miraculous comeback by registering her third goal with 45 seconds remaining in the match. The score put the Lancers up 6-4 and sealed the victory for Thousand Oaks.

“We started out as a good team, but now we’re a great team,” Segesman said. “People can’t take us lightly anymore. When they come play the Sharks [at home] or anywhere, we are for real. That was the message we were sending out this year. And I couldn’t be prouder of the way these girls have done it.”