The No. 1 Malibu High School water polo team scored a victory Saturday over the No. 8 Santa Ynez Pirates, clenching the Sharks a spot in the CIF semi-finals for the second time in three years.
The game started with the Sharks failing to score with a man advantage and the Pirates taking an early lead, scoring from inside. The Sharks countered with two straight goals by Jordan Clarke, including a nice backhand shot.
In the action-packed first quarter, the Pirates struck back with a goal while a man up. Then Sharks' Owen Franz started his own personal scoring barrage with a nice 7 meter shot putting the Sharks up 3-2.Toward the end of the quarter Emmet Pierson drew a 5 meter penalty shot while fighting for a goal inside. He made the shot and the quarter ended with the Sharks up 4-2.
The second quarter started with the Pirates scoring two straight goals to tie the score 4-4. Malibu fought back, capitalizing on two straight man advantages, first with a goal by Alec Wilimovsky with the second by Franz.
Franz continued with his hot hand and scored again on a nice pass from Morgan Hathorn and the Sharks led 7-4 at halftime.
The third quarter started with the Pirates scoring after Clarke was sent off for a foul as the physical play from both teams kept up the entire match.
The Sharks countered again when Jens Cole sniped a 7 meter goal off a pass from Wilimovsky. Then Franz went on a tear scoring three straight goals, including one with an assist from goalie Jack Thompson after he made a great save.
At the end of the quarter the Sharks had another quick counter and Henry Buckley made a perfect cross pool pass to Shaan McPartlin who snapped a shot into the net pushing the Sharks lead to 12-5.
The fourth quarter started with the Malibu fans cheering loudly and the Pirates still playing very physical water polo. The Pirates scored first, but when Pierson anticipated a pass back to the Pirate goalie, he snuck in and stole the ball and in a flurry of water pushed the ball into the goal for a score.
After another Pirate goal, Thompson and Hathorn combined to make a great save on a Pirate breakaway, got the ball quickly to Buckley who passed it to Pierson who managed to score again.
With the game winding down, McPartlin scored again on another Sharks counter play as the game ended with Malibu ahead 15 to 8.
Sharks highlights from the game included six goals and two steals by Franz. Pierson had six positive kick outs, three goals and three steals. Clarke and McPartlin each scored two goals and Jack Thompson made nine saves including several spectacular blocks.
As excited as the parents and fans were at the result, the boys took the win in stride and seemed more focused on their next match.
The Sharks will now face La Quinta High School in a semifinal match at Mt. Sac on Wednesday afternoon.