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Water Polo

Dos Pueblos Wins Water Polo Tournament of Champions for First Time Since 2011

Ryann Neushul Scores 6 goals, leading Chargers past Mater Dei in battle of No. 1 teams

Ryann Neushul of Dos Pueblos battles with Mater Dei’s Bella Baia for the ball during the Tournament of Champions final. Click to view larger
Ryann Neushul of Dos Pueblos battles with Mater Dei’s Bella Baia for the ball during the Tournament of Champions final. (Peter Neushul photo)

The last time Dos Pueblos played in the final and won the girls water polo Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Kiley Neushul was in her senior year at the school in 2011.

Little sister, Ryann, and her DP teammates brought the TOC title back to Goleta on Saturday.

In a title-game showdown between No. 1-ranked teams in Division 1 of the CIF-Southern Section, Stanford-bound Ryann Neushul scored six goals to lead Dos Pueblos to a 15-9 victory over Mater Dei for the championship on Saturday at the Elings Aquatic Center.

“That’s pretty big achievement and it’s a tough tournament,” said DP coach Connor Levoff.

Neushul scored the first goal of the game off a pass from senior Olivia Kistler and made a steal that led to a goal by Abbi Hill to get Dos Pueblos going.

The Chargers, who never trailed in the game, got contributions from everyone in staving off Mater Dei threats and beating the Monarchs for the second time this season.

“I thought we did a good job of staying cool and everybody who played stepped up and played big minutes,” said a pleased Levoff, whose team improved to 19-1.

Hill scored four goals, Chloe Pena had three, Thea Neushul added two and Kistler chipped in one.

“When we can distribute and we can make sure we’re dictating what’s happening for (Mater Dei's) offense, we’re in a place where we can be competitive with them," Levoff said. "They’re a really good team, they’re a strong team. I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing them again.”

A big second quarter allowed the Chargers to gain some separation from the Monarchs. After Bella Baia scored on a floater over DP goalie Anna Cable to make it 4-3, the Chargers responded with some spectacular plays to go up 8-4. 

First, Kayla Peacock fed Pena for a score and then Hill followed with a field block and drew a foul. She finished the sequence with an incredible athletic play for a power play goal, reaching high for a pass and then firing a shot past the goalkeeper.

“Those are big momentum turners in a game,” Levoff said. “I was getting frustrated because she does that (gets a big block) and she doesn’t get the ball. I’m glad we ended up with the ball on that. It’s like the big noise and the big swoop— everybody in the pool goes ‘Oh,’ and we then we forget the ball. But we ended up with it and got a quick counter, which was nice."

Hannah Constandse scored off a Tea Poljak assist and Mater Dei pulled to 6-4 with 1:27 left in the quarter. Constandse led the Monarchs with three goals and Baia had two.

DP came right back on a power play, with Kistler feeding Neushul after a quick restart. Hill and Neushul combined for another goal with 14 seconds left in the half for an 8-4 halftime lead. 

“That’s like water polo 101,” Levoff said of the quick scores after drawing an ejection. “You want to score quickly before a defense gets set. We did a good job of getting those quick looks today.”

Said Kistler on the quick restarts: “We just connect on a different level. We don’t even have to talk, we just go boom, boom and get things done.”

Kistler said passing for goals is an expression of her creativity.

“I just love passing because I get to see the opportunity it creates afterwards. It’s just fun looking for so many different angles I can go for. I feel it’s the creative side of me that I can show by just passing and getting (the ball) to so many people. Water polo can help me show that."

The Chargers extended their lead to 12-7 in the third quarter. Neushul finished a pair of goals and assisted to Hill, and Pena powered a shot through a Mater Dei block and past the goalie.

Neushul played a brilliant overall game.

Dos Pueblos goalie Anna Cable gets high out of the water to make a save in an 11-7 semifinal win against Foothill. Click to view larger
Dos Pueblos goalie Anna Cable gets high out of the water to make a save in an 11-7 semifinal win against Foothill. (Peter Neushul photo)

“She’s really dynamic and obviously occupies a lot of attention no matter who were playing against,” said Levoff.

Mater Dei’s Maisie McPherson scored to open the fourth quarter, and the Monarchs threatened to score again. But Cable stayed alert and saved a backhanded shot from two meters.

The Chargers went up 13-8 as Pena fed Thea Neushul on a long pass and Neushul smartly fired a low shot, placing the ball under the goalie’s left arm with 4:28 left in the game.

Grace Thawley scored on a sweet lob for Mater Dei on its next possession, but DP countered with a couple of side-armed shots by Ryann Neushul and Kistler to make it 15-9 with 2:48 left.

“The scoring is coming off really fast ball movement,” Levoff said. “We have a good sense of where each other are. When we can spread the scoring around, it’s a really, really good healthy way to play."

Dos Pueblos defeated Foothill, 8-5, in the semifinals. Ryann Neushul had three goals and Pena and Kistler each scored two. The defense held the Knights' standout center Noelle Wijnbelt to one goal.

Ryann Neushul and Hill were named to the all-tournament team.

San Marcos Finshes 7th

The Royals bounced back from an 8-3 loss to Corona del Mar in the morning with a 13-7 win over San Diego's Cathedral Catholic.

"I am really proud of our growth, however, there are always growing pains," said San Marcos coach Chuckie Roth.

He noted that Sophie Trumbull "was really great in goal all weekend."

Piper Smith earned all-tournament honors for the Royals.

Santa Barbara Places 9th

The Dons started the day with a 7-4 win over The Bishop's of La Jolla. Grace Raisin had three goals and earned five ejections, and goalie Faith Tedesco made 10 saves.

Santa Barbara fell to Santa Margarita, 10-5. Georgia Ransone and Abigail Hendrix each scored two goals for the Dons.

All-Tournament Team

Ryann Neushul (Dos Pueblos), Abbi Hill (Dos Pueblos), Grace Thawley (Mater Dei), Bella Baia (Mater Dei), Hannah Palmer (Orange Lutheran), Alyssa Barnuevo (Orange Lutheran), Val Ayala (Foothill), Erin Tharpe (Corona del Mar), Bayley Weber (Los Alamitos), Piper Smith (San Marcos)

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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