The Malibu High Sharks boys water polo team finished its yearly tournament on Sept. 14 with more than a pair of victories—the squad scored a feeling of togetherness. 

Senior Owen Campos said the Sharks IS a better team after playing four games in two days in the 18th annual Malibu Varsity Tournament at the Malibu Swimming Pool.

“We had a pretty rough start to the season, trying to bond,” he said. “This helped us come together as a team. After this, we are going to have a way tighter bond.”

Second-year Malibu head coach Hayden Goldberg said the Sharks had more chemistry now compared with contests earlier this season.

“In all these games, I have seen guys giving extra help and looking for their teammates,” he said. “It looks like they are all together having fun.”

Goldberg, a former Malibu player and assistant coach, said that previously the Sharks were playing more like a group of individuals than as a team. He said a group discussion at practice on Sept. 11 remedied that. Goldberg noted that he had to ease up on the amount of intense emotion he was firing the group’s way. 

“I was getting a little hard on them too fast. I was getting emotional on a lot of calls and a lot of plays, and I could tell the guys weren’t responding to me,” he said, adding that theteam talk last week was a cleansing for the squad. “The boys have really gelled since.” 

Malibu won a contest the day after the discussion and then went 2-1-1 and finished sixth place in the three-day Malibu competition. The Sharks defeated Hueneme and tied Culver City on the water polo spectacle’s second day. The next day, the team defeated Royal, then was downed by Newbury Park.

Pacific Palisades defeated Xavier Prep to win the tournament’s championship for the third straight year. Other squads that participated in the event included Brentwood, Calabasas, Flintridge, Pacifica, Nordhoff, Oxnard, Moorpark and Agoura’s junior varsity team. 

The Sharks went 0-2 in their first two scoring attempts as Newbury Park built an early 2-0 lead. Newbury Park scored again before Ocean Mason scored the Sharks’ first goal. However, Newbury Park scored four more goals and held a six-point lead at halftime. 

Sophomore goalkeeper Bodhi Gelbart started at goalkeeper for Malibu because senior Chris Jensen was taking the ACT. Gelbart had two of at least 10 blocks at the beginning of the third period, but Newbury Park soon gained an 11-1 lead.

Campos scored the Sharks’ second point before the beginning of the final quarter. Campos and Mason each scored early in the fourth quarter to give Malibu four points. Newbury Park scored again, and then Campos scored the Sharks’ fifth point. Dylan Hughes scored Malibu’s final point before the game ended.

Campos said the Sharks’ play in the second quarter was their undoing.

“It went downhill from there,” he said. 

His coach liked that the team kept precisely executing the plays he directed them to, though.

“They were really looking for each other,” Goldberg said. 

The Sharks defeated Royal, 13-11, earlier in the day. Goldberg said every Malibu player that dove into the pool had a hand in that victory.

“The Royal game was a team win,” he said. “The scoring was really sporadic. It wasn’t just one guy scoring.” 

Sophomore Matt Maischoss said the team played well. 

“We had great communication that game,” he said. 

Malibu hosted Rio Mesa on Wednesday and plays at Westlake on Thursday. The Sharks host Notre Dame on Sept. 25. The squad has a matchup against Tri-Valley League-opponent Cate on Oct. 8. 

Malibu, defending Tri-Valley League champions, lost, 9-8, to Foothill Tech, another league foe, on Sept. 7. Foothill finished second to Malibu in the league standings last season, so Goldberg said Malibu is eager for their next game against the squad on Oct. 17. 

Campos said the team wants to have fun and win. 

“I think we are going to pull together and win league,” he said.

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