MHS water polo falls in close battle

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Quarterback Austin Scott looks for room to run. Photo by Sam Rubinroit/TMT

The Malibu High School water polo team lost to rival Oaks Christian, 10-8, on Friday in a tense battle.

While the outside temperatures fell poolside, the tensions rose as dozens of Malibu fans drove the half hour journey to Westlake to pack the bleachers and see the two perennial water polo powerhouses compete. Oaks Christian, which was founded in 2000, has recently ended Malibu’s monopoly of local success in the sport by winning the past two league titles.

With supporters of each team setting the tempo by competing to yell the loudest, the Sharks came out with vengeance. From the onset of the game, the physical nature of the contest illustrated the animosity between the two teams.

“We showed a lot of intensity,” Sharks head coach Mike Mulligan said. “The Oaks Christian game is huge. They are the defending league champions, and to win league, we have to go through them.”

At the end of the first quarter, the Lions led 3-2. However, by halftime the Sharks had tied the game at 5-5 due to goals by Jake Philbrick, Carter Baldwin and Jacob Vandor, and the stellar goaltending of Michael Galate. In the second half, the Lions got off to a quick lead. The Sharks came back to within one goal, but the Lions were able to score again and hold onto the lead.

Philbrick led the Sharks with four goals, and Sean Merrick added two more. The Sharks’ record fell to 12-3 and 3-1 in league play, while the Lions improved their record to 12-5 and 3-0 in league play.

The Sharks fans left disappointed, but eagerly circled their calendars on Oct. 24 for their chance to avenge their loss to the Lions, in Malibu at 3:15 p.m.