Senior-laden MHS Lacrosse Aims to Build on Last Year

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Jonathan Shanley, right, maneuvers around the goal with defenseman George Savas in his sight.

Returning 10 seniors from a squad that went 11-6 and won a berth in the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section playoffs in 2013, coach Mark DeOliveira holds high expectations in his second year at the helm of the Malibu High School lacrosse team.

Despite graduating 12 seniors from a year ago, DeOliveira returns a strong group of talented and versatile players who will serve as the core of the team in 2014.

“I’m expecting a lot of new roles for our kids and how they develop into leaders. Losing 12 seniors from last year presents a lot of opportunities for leadership to emerge,” DeOliveira said. “The 10 seniors all have game experience. It’s their time to shine and I’m looking forward to that.”

Malibu will rely on its defense and midfield in the early part of the season. Among last year’s graduating class were several of the team’s top offensive players, so the plan is for MHS to buckle down on the defensive side of the field to dictate the tone of each game.

Senior defenseman George Savas anchors the defense along with junior Elliot Quartz and senior goalkeeper Ricky Alba.

“Our defense should be pretty solid this year. We have a good goalie,” Savas said. “Our offense is pretty good too but our defense is strong. It’s great to be back out here again.”

Forming the spine of this year’s squad are five seniors in the middle of the field, where DeOliveira says there is some real talent.

“Our midfielders are good and they really know the game,” he said. “They’ve been friends for a long time and they work together very well. We need to rely on them.”

Duke Conrad, Harrison Smart and Lucas Terranova are four-year players whose experience and play-making ability will be counted upon. Kerns Churchill and Amir Mahmoud will also play key roles at the midfield position.

“We are pretty much brothers in this program trying to do our very best,” said Mahmoud. “The coaches have done a great job of improving our fundamentals. They have trained us to be really good athletes.”

Conrad has been one of the team’s best offensive weapons for the past two years. He and fellow senior attackman Jonathan Shanley will create tough matchups for opposing teams with their quickness and agile moves around the goal.

“The last two years I’ve always been one of the highest point guys on the team with goals, assists and ground balls, but now I have to get some other guys to do it,” Conrad said. “It’s kind of up to me to help the other guys, which I really haven’t done before. I’m trying the best I can. There is a lack of experience offensively so I’m giving them pointers every now and then.”

Newcomers to the team include juniors Winston Churchill (Kerns’ younger brother), Noah Gorelick and Ethan Krase.

Conrad, Shanley, Churchill and Danny Sills are the team’s four captains. The trio will lead the Sharks into upcoming contests against rivals Oak Park and Oaks Christian as well as tough opponents such as Harvard-Westlake, Cate and Thacher.

The Sharks began the season on the right foot with a sturdy defensive effort in a 6-5 victory on opening day last week against Brentwood.

Malibu travels to Viewpoint on Thursday and will play next at home on March 21 versus Oaks Christian at 6:30 p.m.

“This is my last year of playing lacrosse so it’s bittersweet,” Churchill said. “We are a heavy-senior dominated team and we will go as far as we can.”