The varsity team finishes season with a 1-0 loss to St. Margaret’s.
By Katie Giacobbe, The Malibu Times
An emotional 1-0 loss in overtime in the second round of CIF playoffs marked the end of a successful season for the Malibu High School varsity girls soccer team.
The Sharks’ second round loss against St. Margaret’s Episcopal School came after a 10-game winning streak, a league championship and a 4-0 win over Simi Valley in the first round of CIF.
“Being undefeated put us up against a better opponent,” Head Coach Jack Craig said. “We prepared really well, the girls were ready and everyone had a positive attitude. For what we were looking to accomplish, it was a great season.”
Craig added that the Sharks’ motivation to play their best against St. Margaret’s was also fueled by the death of a player’s father earlier that week. Each of the players wore the family’s name as part of their uniform while they fought to move on in front of a home crowd.
“They were playing for something bigger,” Craig said. “We maintained a great game and did everything we possibly could.”
The end of the season also marked the end of seven seniors’ high school careers with the Sharks, including captains Sasha Savitsky and Britty Walley. Savitsky led the team in goals for her last season, scoring 13 goals and posting 13 assists in league. She will go on to play collegiate soccer for Amherst College in Maryland this fall.
“[The seniors] have contributed so much because they are the core of the program,” Craig said. “They believe in what the program is about. I think that when you have leaders on the team, they set the tone.”
Junior captain Abby Blackwood said that she has been playing with many of the seniors since AYSO.
“They have been so helpful and such nice people who have made a huge impact on the field,” she added.
The Sharks’ successful CIF run came on the heels of an undefeated league run, which included a memorable second-half comeback against Santa Paula early in league play. After trailing the Cardinals 2-0 in the first half, the Sharks turned the game around and scored three goals in the second half to secure a 3-2 victory.
“It was our first time playing Santa Paula, and they’re a really good team,” Blackwood said. “We were still learning, but had improved a lot from preseason. Getting that win had such a big impact.”
Craig also identified the Sharks’ challenging non-league lineup as a major component of their league success.
“It prepared us just like we thought it would because we came into league ready to go,” he said. “We knew how to play from behind, and there was nothing [the players] haven’t been exposed to.”
Blackwood and Craig also added that team camaraderie and a unique pregame ritual also set the Sharks apart from other teams.
“Especially in those two [CIF] games, we do a pre-game ritual where we all sing and dance,” Blackwood said. “It’s great team bonding and we just get so pumped and in the zone.”
“What makes us different is that our program is one team,” Craig added. “By the end of the season, they love each other and want to play for each other. We have an hour-and-a-half pregame, and most high school programs don’t do stuff like that. What more can you ask from a team?”
Despite the loss of several starters to graduation and a re-league taking place this summer, Craig said he sees the team doing just as well next season.
“We had some great freshmen playing on JV, so next year will be exciting,” he said. “Abby will take on the role [of captain] with a new captain. I’ve seen Abby grow into an amazing leader.”
“I think we will have new incoming players that will bring a great aspect to the team,” Blackwood added. “If we keep working hard and staying together as a team, we have a possibility of winning league again.”