The Malibu High School girls soccer team clinched first place in the Tri-Valley League with wins against the La Reina Regents and the St. Bonaventure Seraphs last week.
The Sharks are riding a six-game winning streak into the playoffs, and finished with a record of 8-1-1.
Coach Jack Craig is excited for the girls on his team after achieving something that’s never been done in MHS girls soccer history.
“For me, winning a championship … It’s more about my players and it’s more about for the pride of the school,” Craig said.
Senior goal keeper Seaira Moore amounted a total of 215 saves on the year, easily first in the league, according to Max Preps. The second highest number of saves recorded was 84, by senior goal keeper Alejandra Pacheco of the Santa Paula Cardinals.
Craig feels confident in Malibu’s playoff chances because of Moore’s stellar play at keeper.
“I believe there’s not a better goal keeper in Division 4 than Seaira Moore,” Craig said. “So with the defense in front of her, I just think we’re at the right spot at the right time.”
The Sharks battled injuries for much of the year, mainly to their star senior forward Michaela Cosentino. But since she’s been back, MHS hasn’t lost a game.
Moore said Cosentino will be instrumental in Malibu’s quest for a CIF title.
“As long as she stays healthy and takes care of herself, then she’ll be a big asset to our team and help us a lot — and hopefully score some more goals,” Moore said.
Midfielder Abby Blackwood, one of Malibu’s team captains, hopes to influence the others on the team during the playoffs with her hard work and attitude.
“If just one player has a positive attitude and is working really hard and their work rate is really high, then that kind of helps the team [and] encourages the team for all of them to work really hard also and just give it their all,” Blackwood said.
Malibu’s opponent was chosen after press time on Monday, Feb. 16. Craig said it will be tough to prepare for the first round of the playoffs if they draw a team they’ve never seen.
However, Craig feels the team will be ready for any challenge.
“I think the intensity, the battle, knowing what they’re capable of — I think they’re in a great position going into the playoffs,” Craig said.
Before the playoffs start on Thursday, Feb. 19, Craig said he gave the team four straight days of rest in order to recover from fatigue and soreness that came as a result of their final two games of the year.
Moore thinks the rest could be helpful for the Sharks.
“I think the rest is going to be really valuable and hopefully it will freshen us up for our first playoff game,” Moore said.
Craig said the team still has some improving to do if they’re going to make noise in the playoffs.
“The most important thing for us is to impose our will, our system of play [and] our strengths on the other team,” Craig said. “As long as they’re patient and they do that and are not disrupted by the other team, that is the main focus.”
Blackwood isn’t counting out a CIF championship for the Sharks.
“I think we definitely have a pretty good chance,” Blackwood said. “If we all want it 100 percent, and we all work hard for it, I think we can definitely achieve it and make it to the championships and hopefully win. We’ll take it one step at a time.”