The Malibu Sharks boys soccer team was down by a goal to Santa Paula when senior Jace Kletter stepped up to attempt a penalty kick with around 25 minutes on the clock in the second half.
Kletter, a midfielder, seemed to easily place the ball in the back of the net to tie the Dec. 16 match 1-1.
The 17-year-old said the score galvanized the Sharks.
“We started to play well after that,” Kletter said.
However, Kletter’s goal, his first of the season, was Malibu’s only score of the game, while Santa Paula, a Citrus Coast League foe, scored two more goals to win the match 3-1.
Sharks head coach Liam Anderson ranked the contest as one of the Sharks’ better performances of the season so far. He noted how Malibu won the 50/50 balls and drew 24 yellow card fouls, compared to Santa Paula drawing seven.
“The boys are fighting hard and their intensity is good,” Anderson said. “We struggle with a couple of basics that we need to readdress, but overall I’m happy with today’s performance.”
The coach said Malibu does need to improve on their free kicks and set plays though.
“We want to develop attacking plays and patterns that are consistent,” Anderson said.
The loss gave the Sharks at 3-4 record heading into the winter break. Malibu’s next game is Jan. 4 against Fillmore.
With the sun setting and Anderson shouting directions from the sideline — “Get the ball, boys!” “Steve, you need to step higher. Get out of the center-back!” “Good job, Brian!” — Malibu was competitive with Santa Paula in the first half of the match.
Juniors Jared Chavez and Travis Kies broke away from the defense early and Kies drew a penalty but the following penalty kick was denied, and then a few plays later Kletter drew a foul while maneuvering through some defenders with some fancy footwork.
Additionally, senior captain and goalkeeper Takoda Moore registered some nice saves before Santa Paula was able to kick in their lone first-half goal.
Santa Paula’s second goal was a tough one, but the third goal came a bit easier because the Sharks’ defense was brought further forward than normal because Malibu was attempting to tie the contest.
Even though Santa Paula had three goals, Moore had a number of saves.
The goalkeeper, Anderson said, is a workhorse and a talented shot blocker with good feet.
“I feel great about him,” Anderson of Moore. “He is very reliable. The center backs, all the defenders are calm with him. They know if they do concede a shot, he is likely to make a save.”
Moore and senior center-back Brian Perez have been stalwarts on defense, while Kletter and Kies are leading Malibu’s offense.
Malibu started the season with a 16-0 win over Santa Clara and then defeated St. Bonaventure 2-1. Triumph Charter downed the Sharks 2-1 before Malibu pounced on Viewpoint 2-0. Mayfair then beat the Sharks 5-1.
Malibu began their play in the Citrus Coast League with a 2-0 loss to Hueneme before the match against Santa Paula.
Anderson said Malibu is aiming to finish the season in the top half of the Citrus Coast League in order to qualify for the CIF playoffs. He noted how tough the Sharks played Hueneme and Santa Paula, the Citrus Coast League’s top teams.
“If we are as competitive as the first two games and continue to improve, I think we will be about to get some wins and do well,” he said.
Kletter said Malibu can challenge anyone on the pitch.
“We haven’t had a game where we were completely dominated,” he said. “We are pretty ambitious. We want to win league. We want to go to CIF. We want to see how far we can get.”