Soccer: Magnet for defenders

first_imgDefenders are flocking to Khatib for good reason. The Highland High of Palmdale senior forward leads the Bulldogs’ boys’ soccer team with 22 goals and 13 assists, including a late-season scoring flurry that lifted Highland to the third Golden League championship in program history. After scoring four goals in three games last week during the final stretch of the regular season, Khatib looks to extend his hot streak when he makes his playoff debut today. The Bulldogs, who hadn’t been to the postseason since 2004, open the Southern Section Div. I playoffs at home against Harvard-Westlake of Studio City. No teammate has scored more than six goals all season. When Khatib isn’t starring for the Bulldogs, he plays for the SCU Barcelona club team that won the 2006 championship at the prestigious Nomad Thanksgiving tournament. He plans to play in college at Loyola Marymount. “Sharif is one of the best pure finishers that I have seen come along in recent years,” LMU associate head coach Mathes Mennell said. Highland’s first-year boys’ coach Lemuel Galvao didn’t take long to realize there was a lot more to like about Khatib. “His strength is everything,” Galvao said. “He’s got height, he’s got speed. He’s got the aggressiveness, touch, skill, nerves. He can jump, he can head. He’s the complete package. It’s not often I say that because everyone has something they need to work on, but he’s got it all.” The quiet player is even starting to feel more comfortable in a leadership role. “That’s one of the things we’ve been working on with him,” Galvao said. “People look up to him and he has to understand that, whether he likes it or not. Whatever he does, the guys are always watching him and following his lead.” Junior David Salguero and senior Brandon Schram are among the other leading threats on a team Khatib describes as much more unified and driven than in previous years. “My job is to score,” Khatib said. “But when it’s one on three or four, it’s hard, and that’s when my teammates come in. We have to play as a team. They’ve helped me a lot, and that’s what we’re going to need to keep doing in playoffs.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s exciting,” Khatib said. “This is what we’ve been looking forward to and working for. It was great to finally win league. This being my senior season makes it even better. “We know we still have a hard road ahead of us every game. We just need to play together and not lose focus.” It rarely takes long for opponents’ focus to shift to Khatib. The third-year varsity player has scored as many as five goals in a game this season. He scored in every game during the second round of Golden League play, during which Highland (11-5-4) went undefeated to vault into first place. center_img PALMDALE – Sharif Khatib doesn’t want to sound cocky, but he likes his chances against any defender willing to go one-on-one with him. “Just one? That’s not a problem,” Khatib said while pondering the toughest defenders he’s faced this season. “But I usually get three or four on me, so that’s a little harder.” last_img read more