A pair of Malibu Sharks girls water polo players were honored before the squad’s last home game of the season on Feb. 4. 

Twelfth-grade utility players Esme Bolander and Mia Woods were recognized during a senior night ceremony before the Sharks’ loss to Foothill Tech, the top team in the Citrus Coast League. Malibu head coach Hayden Goldberg said Bolander and Woods will be missed by him and their teammates

“They are both amazing girls,” he said. “Fantastic people all around. They were team leaders. They always brought the light if I ever had a bad day.”

The Sharks’ last win of the season was a 12-5 win over Cate High, another Citrus League opponent, on Jan. 24. 

“Everyone played excellent that game,” Goldberg said. “It was a good way to end the season.”

The coach said the team really treasured the season-ending victory because they got to end their 2019-20 campaign on a high note and eat at a favored Mexican restaurant that isn’t far from Carpinteria-located Cate. Goldberg said the team’s closeness really shined as they talked, laughed and grubbed on tacos and chips and salsa. 

“That was what it is all about—family—at the end of the season,” Goldberg said.

The Sharks’ season didn’t feature as many wins as in years past. The squad went 2-4 in its league, but the girls aren’t frowning on the season and only looking at wins and defeats. The 14-member unit featured eight girls that were freshmen or sophomores and only four or five players on Malibu’s roster had ever dived in the pool as a member of the varsity team. Despite that, the Sharks lost five games by one point. Goldberg looks as those games not as losses, but as triumphs—because the opponents weren’t cupcakes.

“This year is a building year,” he said. “These girls are going to get better. I had some really good younger players and leaders out there.”

Valerie Burchard, a first-year player, stood out on defense for Malibu. 

“She has a no-quit attitude,” Goldberg said. He added that Bouchard, also a swimmer, learned water polo as the season went on. “She had no coaching prior to that.”

Charlie Florence, a freshman, and Tate Miller, a sophomore, also had good seasons. The pair shared goalkeeper duties for Malibu. 

“They battled it out in practice,” Goldberg said. “Both were phenomenal this year.” 

Reflecting on the season, Goldberg said it was a good one.

“They are great girls,” he said. 

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