Coming into the game last Wednesday, the Malibu Sharks lacrosse team had one goal in mind: get within one win of a .500 record.
In a rematch against West Ranch, they met that goal with an 8-4 win led by attacker Duke Conrad, who scored five goals in his first game returning from injury.
Malibu’s first match this season against West Ranch resulted in a 9-8 loss and the Sharks were looking to strike back with many key players returning from injury.
“We did not possess the ball well the first time. The big thing going into this game was possession and ball control,” head coach Mark DeOliveira said.
But throughout Wednesday’s bout, it was clear that the Sharks had the game under control in terms of possession, rarely letting West Ranch go on the attack. The Sharks scored four goals in the first quarter alone.
“It’s nice to be back and dictate the pace,” said Conrad, who scored three of the first quarter goals.
After the quick start, the time of possession evened out in the second as both teams went on the attack and West Ranch scored another goal to make it 4-2 by the end of the half. During the quarter, Malibu’s defense looked a lot weaker than in the first and West Ranch created a lot of opportunities for shots on goal. It was certainly not what DeOliveira had in mind, but the Sharks still had the lead.
Going into the half, Malibu needed to regain control of possession and play solid defense. Ricky Alba, goalie for the Sharks, trusted Sharks’ defensive power.
“I have confidence in my defense,” Alba said.
Rightly so, as Malibu added two goals in the third to make it 6-2, including a beautiful assist from defenseman George Savas that had his teammates celebrating from the bench.
But West Ranch kept things interesting in the final quarter, scoring two quick goals to make it 6-4. If the Sharks were going to win this game, they had to get back to the gritty mindset they exhibited in the first and third quarters.
“It woke us up definitely,” Conrad said of the two quick goals West Ranch scored but Savas said he “wasn’t sweating it all.”
Malibu definitely woke up and added two insurance goals to win 8-4, dominating possession in the process.
“We played hard, smart and disciplined,” DeOliveira said.
With the win, Malibu moved to 4-5 on the year but lost 14-0 to Oak Park on Friday. The Sharks (4-6) still have hope for the playoffs but in order to be even considered, the team must have at least a .500 record.
One thing is for sure, Malibu came out with a game plan last Wednesday and they executed it. The Sharks are currently on break but resume play April 21 at home against Viewpoint at 4 p.m.