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Water Polo

10 Local Players Competing in NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships

Santa Barbara High alum Kelsey O’Brien of UCLA shoots against Dos Pueblos grad Jamie Neushul of Stanford during the MPSF semifinals last month. The two local players are among 10 from the 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club competing at this weekend’s NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships at UCLA.
Santa Barbara High alum Kelsey O’Brien of UCLA shoots against Dos Pueblos grad Jamie Neushul of Stanford during the MPSF semifinals last month. The two local players are among 10 from the 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club competing at this weekend’s NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships at UCLA. (Peter Neushul photo)

This weekend's NCAA Division I Championship at UCLA will feature 10 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club alumni on six of the eight teams competing at the championships.

Santa Barbara's alumni have more than enough players to make their own team.  In club and in high school, these Santa Barbara greats won numerous Junior Olympic, National Club, and CIF championships.  

First-ranked USC features freshman Amanda Longan, MPSF Tournament MVP, who is emerging as one of the finest goalkeepers in the United States.  Longan, who attended Oaks Christian High School, starred for Santa Barbara Water Polo's 16U and 18U club teams.  The Trojans are a perfect 23-0 this season and will
seek their fifth national championship in their 13th NCAA Tournament. Longan was also named to the All-MPSF First Team.

Second-ranked UCLA includes attacker Kelsey O'Brien, a consistent starter for the Bruins, who starred at Santa Barbara High.  O'Brien scored three goals to lead UCLA to a third-place MPSF tournament finish over Cal
and fellow Santa Barbara alum Madeline Trabucco to secure a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Kodi Hill, a UCLA defender, is taking the year off to compete for a spot on Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Molly Cahill who starred for SBHS, Santa Barbara Water Polo Club, and won
four NCAA Division I titles at UCLA, is assistant coach for the Bruins.

Third-ranked Stanford features attackers in Jamie Neushul and Shannon Cleary, both of whom played on CIF Championship teams at Dos Pueblos High.

The Cardinal are defending NCAA champions and lost a close 8-5 decision to undefeated USC in the MPSF Tournament championship. Stanford is seeking their sixth NCAA Championship.  Neushul, an All-American playmaker, leads the Cardinal in scoring with 46 goals and was named First Team All-MPSF. 

Fifth-ranked Arizona State features attacker Maud Koopman, a Dutch attacker who played for Santa Barbara Water Polo Club's 16U team after training with the team during the club's bi-annual Holland trip.  Koopman, a member of the Dutch Youth and Junior National Teams, led the Sun Devils in scoring with 35
goals and was named to the MPSF All-Newcomer team.

No. 9  UCSB includes Sophie Trabucco, an outstanding center defender who starred at SBHS.  She is joined by attacker Betsey Hendrix, a Channel League Player of The Year during her tenure with the Dons.  The Gauchos won their first Big West Championship to earn their first ever berth in the NCAA tournament.

Tenth-ranked UCSD features All-American attacker Laurel Kistler, the team's leading scorer and WWPA Player of the Year. She scored three goals to lead the Tritons over Whittier College in a NCAA Play-in game held Tuesday at San Diego.  Kistler is joined by freshman attacker Riley Heiduk, who starred at San Marcos High, helping  where the Royals to the first two Channel League titles in school history.

Led by Cathy Neushul and Connor Levoff, 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club is among the strongest programs in the nation, with numerous National Club and National Junior Olympics Titles.  Last month the club ran the table at the 2016 California State Championships, winning Gold in the 14U, 16U, and 18U brackets.  Santa Barbara's championship tradition will be on display at the NCAAs, where the nation's finest water polo players compete for the 2016 collegiate c crown.

The 2016 NCAA Championship kick off Friday at UCLA's Spieker Aquatic Center with UCLA facing UCSD at noon, Stanford versus UCSB at 1:45 p.m., USC facing San Diego State at 3:30 and ASU taking on Michigan at 5:15.  All games are streamed live at http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2016/05/13?DB_OEM_ID=30500

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