MHS Girls’ Water Polo Reflects on Alumni Game

The past competed against the present two days before Christmas at the Malibu High School pool. Players from the high school’s previous girls’ water polo teams clashed with this season’s crop of players in the MHS girls water polo program’s first-ever alumni game. 

Sophie Spivack, a member of Malibu’s present-day squad, said playing in the Dec. 23 spectacle was amazing. 

“You hear the stories about the older girls, what they did, the records they set and how far they went in CIF,” the senior said. “To play against them, you really get to see how some of those girls are still really talented.” 

Girls water polo coach Hayden Goldberg said it was great to see Sharks from past years. That the former players still had a whole lot of skill when armed with the sport’s yellow ball in the pool was a bonus.

“Right when they got back in the pool, they clicked,” Goldberg said. “It brought back so many memories. It was a really great day.” 

More than 20 current and former Malibu players competed in the first of what Goldberg and boys water polo coach Mike Mulligan plan to make an annual event. The alumni team included women from teams from 2008 to 2016. 

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Mulligan coached the alumni to a 15-10 win over Goldberg and high school players.  

Goldberg said the game, watched by parents and fans of multiple years of Malibu water polo, was good for his team. 

“It was really influential for some of the current girls to see and be like, ‘Wow, Malibu produced her. That’s what I can be as well,’” said Goldberg, adding kudos to his Sharks for scoring and playing well against a seasoned group that included past league and CIF honorees and Division 1 college players.

The coach, also a former Malibu water polo player, noted that Searra Silverberg, the 2009 CIF MVP and the leading goal scorer in Sharks girls water polo history, who played college water polo at Arizona State University, “really showed my young girls why her name is one on the 

 

record board” by tallying six or seven goals in the matchup. Silverberg’s high school teammate, Gianna Fote, a former All-CIF player, also shined.

“She is one of the best athletes I have ever seen,” Goldberg said of Fote. “She was incredible in the water. I had flashbacks of me coaching her as a freshman.” 

Spivack said Fote, who starred at Yale University, gave her some insight on water polo beyond high school.

“She gave me some advice for next year, which was nice,” said Spivack, set to play at San Jose State.

Other past Sharks who competed in the competition included Alex Dossett, Allyx Teel, Christine Karaghossian, Devin Dimattia, Erika Wooller, Kayla Kamen, Raine Murray, Rayna Ney, Sofi Peterson, Sophie Galate and Zoe Detweiler. 

Goldberg said the former Sharks gave the current varsity and junior varsity players tips on how to succeed in the sport.

“They wanted to help out,” he said. “That was really cool.” 

Mulligan said it was great to see the alumni play with competitive fire and smile a lot. The coach said to have so many past players participate in the contest shows that the Malibu program is something special that the water polo players are proud of. 

The idea for alumni contest came after the Sharks boys water polo team hosted a similar event. Goldberg and Mulligan initially wanted to hold the girl’s alumni event around Thanksgiving, but plans could not be finalized, so the event was held close to Christmas when a lot of former Sharks would be in town for the holidays.

The coaches hope to have the event next November in conjunction with the boys’ alumni game. At the celebration, a few former boys’ and girls’ water polo players and a past Malibu swimmer will be honored. 

The alumni game occurred during a lull in the 3-4 Sharks’ season. Their last contest was a 23-0 victory over Beverly Hills on Dec. 13. Malibu also beat Thousand Oaks and Atascadero last month. 

Oh Thursday, the Sharks play Moorpark at Body Exchange Gym in Moorpark at 3:15 p.m. The group hosts Palisades on Friday at 3 p.m.

“We’d like to get as many fans out as we can,” Goldberg said. 

The Sharks had three games canceled (two have been rescheduled) and had to step away from the pool for seven days due to December’s wildfires, but the time off was productive. Goldberg said the time away from the pool featured him sending the team game video and one day where they went over game plans on the chalkboard in a classroom. The team had its first practice to prepare for the second half of the season on Jan. 2. 

Goldberg said the team is eager to get back to facing opponents. 

Spivack, a center defender and defender, said the season has been slow, but promising. The senior said it shouldn’t take the team long to find its groove.  

“As a team, we are doing a really good job of developing,” Spivack said. “The training and practices have been going really well.” 

She said the team wants to win another Tri-Valley League championship and make another deep run in the CIF playoffs. 

“Winning league is exciting, but my eyes are on the prize—CIF,” she said. “This year, we are going to need every single person on our team to be ready to take it to the next level and really step up as a teammate.” 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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