Girls Water Polo Focused on Repeating League Championship

Girls water polo coach Hayden Goldberg speaks to the team during practice last week.

Almost three weeks after the Malibu High boys water polo team was crowned state champion, the girls water polo team is ramping up its championship aspirations too.

“I want to win league very, very, badly,” said senior Raine Murray.

Sharks coach Hayden Goldberg said the Sharks have one goal: win the Tri-Valley League Championship.

“Unfortunately last year, we had three games that were decided by one goal that made us lose league,” he said. “Heartbreaking. This year all the girls have said we want to win league and go as far as we can in the CIF, but winning league is our goal.”

The Sharks are off to a 1-5 start heading into their contest against Westlake Warriors on Dec. 16. After dropping the season-opener to Oxnard High, Malibu beat Louisville High 9-7 on Dec. 2 before losing four games in last weekend’s Mistletoe Classic at Newbury Park High.

Goldberg said the Sharks played well in the Classic. 

“Close games, no blowouts,” he said. “It will come with practice and patience.”

Before the Sharks’ games in the Classic, Goldberg said the Sharks had experienced some opening-season jitters in their loss to Oxnard, but are over those nerves. He said the team’s bounce-back win over a talented Louisville team was big because Malibu hadn’t beaten Louisville in around five years.

“We were constantly leading the entire game,” he said. “Everyone stepped up, and the nervousness was completely gone.”

Last year’s second-place finish in the Tri-Valley League standings was a foreign finish to the water polo program and its fans. For seven straight seasons, the Sharks had won the league title.

This year’s Sharks team will be led by Murray, a team captain.

“She is one of those girls that just has phenomenal talent,” he said. “The days she is on you can’t stop her. I have high expectations of her this year. She is a tough cookie.”

Goldberg said new starting goalkeeper, Marie Lopez, a junior varsity player last season, has already stood out this season. In Malibu’s win over Louisville, she had 10 blocks. Goldberg also said a trio of freshman — attacker Annie Armitage, two-meter offender Gia Hines, and two-meter defender Sophie Spivack — should have a big impact in the pool this year for the Sharks.

“These three freshmen have taken leadership roles,” he said. “These three freshmen are really giving us life.”

Murray said the freshman starters add a lot to the team.

“With them I feel we have a good chance of getting to our goal and winning league,” she said.

In order to win the league championship, Malibu will have to go through familiar conference opponents Cate, Oaks Christian, Nordoff, Carpinteria and Villanova Prep. Goldberg feels that thesquad is up to the test.

“They are starting off with the correct mindset,” he said. “I’m very fortunate that they want to work for their coach, so that puts pressure on me. Also, I want them to work to be the best players they can be.”

Freshman two-meter offensive player Gia Hines said the boys’ state title win is motivation.

“That has set the bar for us to get there also and win league,” she said.

According to Murray, the Sharks will be fun to watch this season.

“I feel that it is important not only that we do well, but we have a really good time,” she said. “I want to have a good experience with this team.”