Aiden Davis tallied nine goals in three junior varsity games this season before being promoted to the Malibu High Sharks boys soccer varsity team earlier this month.
The freshman striker’s scoring prowess hasn’t changed much since.
Early in the second half of the squad’s home match against Bishop Diego on Dec. 9, the 15-year-old left footer rang up another goal when he followed up a teammate’s averted-scoring kick with a strike that found the back of the net. Davis’ scoring kick was the first score of what ended as a 1-1 tie.
The ninth grader always thinks “rebound” when a ball is punted at the net.
“Anything can happen off of a shot, so I just run up,” Davis said. “I saw the ball was deflected, so it was just one touch to put it in the net.”
Davis produced four goals and four assists against Viewpoint, two goals against Oak Park and three goals against Foothill Tech before being called up to Malibu’s varsity squad. In his first varsity competition, a Sharks’ 2-1 loss to Winward on Dec. 2, Davis put Malibu’s only point on the board.
Sharks coach Ignacio Rodriguez said Davis played on the junior varsity team in order to get in rhythm.
“That’s probably the best way to get him going,” Rodriguez said. “From day one I knew he was varsity material.”
The Sharks had a quiet first half against Bishop Diego but after halftime the group began to play more aggressively on offense.
First came Davis’ goal, then several other good scoring opportunities, Rodriguez said.
“In the final third we had five, six shots on target,” he said. “Even on the goal we scored, the goalkeeper had to make a really good save and our player followed it up.”
Malibu’s defense held Bishop Diego to only two shots on goal. With around 35 minutes on the clock, Sharks defenders stopped a Bishop Diego free kick and goalkeeper Sammy Mankoff, a junior, stopped a rebounded scoring attempt a few instances later. Mankoff blocked another free kick around five minutes later.
The Sharks goalie made another big defensive stop with less than 25 minutes left in the game. He leapt up and knocked a ball out of the air. The ball was then corralled in the feet of a nearby Bishop Diego player, who then kicked it toward the net, but Mankoff, laying on the pitch, snatched the ball before it got near the net.
“He reacted extremely well,” Rodriguez noted.
Bishop Diego scored with just over 15 minutes left to play.
Rodriguez said the goal couldn’t have been stopped by nine out of 10 goalies.
The contest was Mankoff’s first game this season due to an elbow injury he suffered last May with his club soccer team. The 16-year-old finished the game with four saves and said he wants his teammates to be confident about having him as their last line of defense.
“I don’t want them to worry when I am back there,” Mankoff said. “I want them to be confident in how they play and how they feel they need to play.”
Mankoff’s coach said the goalkeeper played well.
“His awareness of where he was, where the goal was, was fantastic,” Rodriguez said.
The Sharks had a 2-2-2 record heading into their game against New Roads on Monday. The squad defeated Viewpoint and Foothill Tech and lost to Oak Park and Winward. Malibu tied St. Monica at 2, two days after playing Bishop Diego to a draw.
Eleventh grader Julian Tso scored both Sharks goals against St. Monica. One was on a free kick in the 30th minute. The other was two minutes later after he received a diagonal pass from Diego Franco. Mankoff had five saves in the contest.
The team will play at Hueneme on Jan. 8 and host Carpinteria two days later. Both games and the ones that come afterward are Citrus Coast League matches.
Rodriguez said the Sharks are a good team with chemistry. He added that the group doesn’t get rattled. The coach wants them to get better on offense and defense as the season progresses.
“We just want to get comfortable and able to run different formations,” Rodriguez said.