Sharks girls water polo team wins first two CIF matches

Senior Sophie Galate scores a goal during the first quarter of the Sharks' first-round playoff game against Tustin High School on Feb. 17. The Sharks won the game 14-9. They also beat Palm Springs High School with a score of 10-4. Photo by Davis Thacker / TMT

The team beats Tustin 14-9 and Palm Springs 10-4.

By Davis Thacker / Special to The Malibu Times

It’s two down and two more to go for the Malibu High School varsity girls water polo team, as the Sharks find themselves two games away from capturing a CIF Championship.

The girls opened up their bid for a CIF Championship with a game against Tustin High School on Feb. 17 at the Shark tank. The second-seeded Sharks got a bye in the first round of the Division 6A playoffs, and faced off against a Tustin team that was simply not prepared for the speed and skill of the Sharks.

The Sharks started the game with a dominating performance, as Tustin’s inability to do any damage to Malibu’s defense led to good scoring opportunities for the Sharks. Throughout the first quarter, senior goalie Jojo White was able to throw a number of lob passes to a variety of team members who were in position to score. Four different Sharks scored in the first quarter, with sophomore Linda Brown and senior Sophie Galate each scoring two during the first quarter of play. At the end of the first period, the Sharks led by a score of 6-1.

Malibu would go on to win the game 14-9, as the girls were able to use their early lead to give some of their other players good playing time. The game also proved to be good for the Sharks in establishing some early momentum.

“That game was really important for us,” Galate said. “It really sets the tone for all of the playoffs and should help us out in harder games.”

The girls then traveled to take on Palm Springs High School in the quarterfinal round. Once again, the Sharks’ combination of strong defense, speed and experience proved to be too much for their opponents. The Sharks would go on to win the game by a score of 10-4.

The Sharks will play in the semifinals on Wednesday this week at Cal Lutheran University against a Cerritos team that is seeded third in CIF playoffs. Cerritos is coming off of a 9-6 victory over Chadwick High School and will look to ruin the Sharks’ near-perfect season. The Sharks are coming off of their third-straight Tri-Valley League title and a number of impressive tournament wins against Division 1, 2 and 3 squads.

One of the main things the Sharks will rely on in their next game against Cerritos as well as the CIF Championship game (providing that they beat Cerritos) is the team’s experience. A number of Malibu’s players were in the CIF Championship game two years ago as well as the semifinals last year and are looking to capture their elusive CIF Championship.

“Our team this year gets along really well,” Galate said. “Our job as seniors is to use our experience and calm some of the younger players down and convince them that it’s just another game.”

The Sharks have two more games left on their road to the championship, and the final stretch begins Wednesday against Cerritos High School at Cal Lutheran.