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Water Polo

Dos Pueblos Offense Erupts for 15-5 Win Over Santa Barbara

Sophie Leggett, Ryann Neushul each score four goals; Chargers score six unanswered goals to improve to 9-1

Thea Neushul of Dos Pueblos prepares to fire a shot on goal in the Chargers’ 15-5 win over Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Thea Neushul of Dos Pueblos prepares to fire a shot on goal in the Chargers’ 15-5 win over Santa Barbara. (Peter Neushul photo)

For about 10 minutes, Santa Barbara High’s defensive plan was working against the potent offense of Dos Pueblos in Thursday’s crosstown Channel League girls water polo match at the Elings Aquatic Center.

Then Sophie Leggett lit the fuse for the Chargers. 

With DP holding a 4-3 lead, the sophomore transfer from Laguna Beach scored from the perimeter against Santa Barbara’s sagging defense and then finished a lob pass from Sabina Shackelford during a 4-0 run in the last three minutes of the first half. 

The scoring eruption powered Dos Pueblos to a 15-5 victory.

Leggett and junior Ryann Neushul each scored four goals, and freshman Jewel Roemer tallied three to lead the Chargers (9-1, 2-0 in league). Leggett also had four steals, Roemer dished out four assists and drew four exclusions, and Neushul and Abbi Hill drew four kick-outs.

“I thought we had a little bit of rhythm and found some pace and started playing well,” DP coach Connor Levoff said. “We kind of struggled in our last game. We had some really, really positive moments today, obviously.”

While it struggled to generate good shots against DP’s high pressure defense, Santa Barbara hung in there in the early going. The Dons packed in their defense against the explosive Chargers and got a couple of big plays from goalie Faith Tedesco.

“We were trying everything we could. They have so many good attackers and they can get you into foul trouble,” Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said. “ We’re thin on numbers this year so our main thing was to avoid a lot of kick-outs, trying to play a zone and give up some outside shots. But they were still able to get the ball into two meters a lot and get us kicked out on the drive. We ended up getting into a lot of foul trouble any ways, so I don’t know if it worked that well.

“They’re such so talented. You make a little mistake and it’s a one on nobody.”

After Grace Raisin slipped a shot past DP goalie Anna Cable to make it a 3-2 game, DP worked the ball inside to Neushul and she earned a penalty shot. Neushul converted for a 4-2 lead in the second quarter.

The Chargers' defense continued to keep the Dons away from the cage, but that didn’t stop them from scoring a beauty of goal. Georgia Ransone fired a laser from downtown into the upper left corner to make the score 4-3.

Leggett answered with her two goals and Roemer and Neushul followed with goals to make it 8-3 at halftime.

“She is a dangerous counterattacker,” Levoff said of Leggett. “She’s a very good scorer and finds a lot of ways to get the ball in. That’s super helpful.

Roemer showed that she has a whip for arm as she rifled one past Dons goalie Joie Ruiz to start the DP scoring in the third quarter. She followed with her fourth goal for a 10-3 lead. Before leaving the game, she threaded a pass to Hill inside for the 12th goal of the game.

“She reads the game as well as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Levoff said of Roemer’s ability to find teammates for good shots. “A lot of good things happen when the ball is in her hand. She feeds it into these little openings that I don’t know everyone would see, and we score a lot of easy goals as a result of that.

Santa Barbara (6-4, 1-2) scored twice more off nifty entry passes from its outstanding freshman Abigail Hendrix.

“Abigail is a freshman who knows the game really, really well,” said Walsh. “All of her older siblings played water polo. She’s a great competitor. We're really, really lucky to have her. She’s come right in to start and gives us a lot of production.”

After Hendrix fed Raisin for her second goal, Dos Pueblos finished off the game with a four goals in the fourth quarter.

Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara are both back in action on Saturday at home against Mater Dei. The Chargers take on the Monarchs at 11 a.m., and the Dons face them at 3 p.m.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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