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Boys Water Polo: Sharks open season with Tri-Valley win

Tor Cole (3) fires a shot on goal during the Sharks’ CIF Round 1 game in Malibu last year. Cole is Malibu’s only returning starter from 2016. 22nd Century Media File Photos
Harry Lang, who split time at keeper last season with 120 blocks, is expected to be the Sharks’ starter in goal this year.
Chris Megginson, Freelance Reporter
7:43 am PDT September 7, 2017

Despite losing six of its seven starters from 2016, Malibu High School boys water polo seeks an eighth-consecutive Tri-Valley League title this fall and a return to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

“Our expectations are to continue to win the Tri-Valley league championship,” said Malibu coach Mike Mulligan. “We’re really balanced. We might be young, and we’re learning to play together, but individually each kid on our team is very strong, very versatile, and it’s just getting them to work as a single unit. That’s our goal.”

The title defense began strongly Sept. 6 as Malibu took care of Villanova Prep on the road, 20-12, to open the 2017 season. The Sharks went up 2-0 and led 4-2 through the first quarter but pulled away with seven goals to lead 11-4 at the half. 

“We were dominating the play, but we weren’t scoring. We controlled the ball but weren’t putting it in the goal [in the first quarter],” Mulligan said. “I think we’re still trying to get that chemistry in a game situation. We were pretty sloppy in the first quarter offensively, and then in the second quarter they were making better passes and their vision was getting better, but we still have a ways to go.”

The Sharks mixed up their lineup in the second half, playing different units and giving time to several subs. Malibu scored on nine of its 13 man-up situations. 

Tor Cole, Malibu’s only returning starter from 2016, was one of three Sharks to score three goals in the season-opening win. Louie Putterman and Lars Peterson also scored three, while five different players had two goals each. Two of the five were Nate Jensen and Ary Kamen, who also had three steals and drew four positive kick outs.

Cole, Kamen and Jensen are expected to be key leaders for the Sharks on offense. Cole is the Sharks’ leading returning scorer from last season after scoring the second-most goals on the team with 61 and adding 44 steals, while Kamen scored 31 goals and had 29 steals and Jensen scored 25 goals in 2016. 

Defensively, the Sharks will be looking to Dylan Celikel. Harry Lang, who split time at keeper last season with 120 blocks, is expected to be the Sharks’ starter in goal this year. He saw limited time in the third quarter of the season opener though, as Sohrob Eslamieh started and had four blocks against Villanova. 

Mulligan said he sees Carpinteria, ranked No. 2 in Division V, as the Sharks’ biggest threat as an up-and-coming team in the Tri-Valley.

The Sharks played at the Conejo Classic at Thousand Oaks on Sept. 8-9. Malibu met El Segundo during the first game Friday, Sept. 8 and suffered a 9-11 loss. The team redeemed themselves with wins in their next three games. The Waves beat Granada Hills 15-4, Newbury Park 12-8 and Palisades 12-9. Malibu finished ninth overall in the Conejo Classic. 

Malibu was to host Foothill at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, for its home opener at the Malibu High School swimming pool, followed by the 17th annual Shark Tournament on Sept. 14-16, hosting teams such as Newbury Park, Culver City and Carpinteria.