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Youth Sports

SB 805 Water Polo Captures 14U, 16U National Junior Olympic Championships

Jewel Roemer is 14U MVP, Ryann Neushul wins 16U honor; title for 16s is second in a row

The 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club’s Under-14 team members make a celebratory dive after winning the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics national championship. Click to view larger
The 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club’s Under-14 team members make a celebratory dive after winning the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics national championship. (Peter Neushul photo)

The 805 Santa Barbara Water Polo Club struck double gold in the 14-and 16-under divisions at the National Junior Olympics championship games held at Stanford University over the weekend.

Santa Barbara placed an exclamation mark on its reputation as the nation’s top girls water polo club by placing four teams —12U, 14U, 16U, and 18U—in coveted Platinum Division semifinal games, a feat accomplished for only the second time in club history.  At one point, the legion of college coaches attending the event watched four consecutive 805 Santa Barbara games at the championship complex.

Here is a rundown of the divisions

12U Girls

Led by coach Connor Levoff, the 12U girls won their first two games in the 48-team tournament to avoid being dropped into the 12-team “Gold” Division. They then rebounded from early losses to Socal Black and Offshore in group play to fight back into contention with wins over Northwood, Foothill Red, and Newport that put them into a crucial quarterfinal match with 680 Red that ended in a 9-9 tie.  Santa Barbara won the shootout and advanced to the semifinal match.  The girls faced powerhouse and eventual champion Huntington Beach Sunday morning and fell 9-3.  The 12s played Laguna Beach in the bronze-medal game and fell 10-6. 

The 805 12U girls include Jordan Agliano, Allison Bartholomew, Kyan Callo, Hannah Godlis, Madison Haaland-Ford, Reagan McEachern, Kate Meyer, Annika Kuhm, Charlotte Raisin, Madison Sparre, Ava Stryker, Layla Symczak, and Rachel Whitney.  Lily Connor and Emma Gilbert were in goal for the 12U girls.

14U Girls

Led by Cathy Neushul,  Levoff, and John Roemer, 805’s heavily favored and undefeated 14s, replicated their outstanding performance at the 2016 US National Club Championships by dominating the 60-team Junior Olympic tournament.

Santa Barbara rocketed to the championship, outscoring its first seven opponents 78-14 and routing Rose Bowl Aquatics in the final.  In a rematch of the 2015 Championship game, 805 smashed their opponent, 12-6, avenging last year’s loss with stifling defense and a relentless counterattack.  MVP Jewel Roemer led all scorers with seven goals.

The 14 girls include Shannon Connoly, Angela Drake, Emma Engmyr, Abigail Hendrix, Claire Kronen, Hannah Meyer, Cassidy Miller, Megan Musick, Ella Prentice, Jewel Roemer, and Sabina Shackelford.  Riley Christen went the distance in goal for the 14s.

The 805 Santa Barbara U16s captured their second straight Junior Olympics national title. Click to view larger
The 805 Santa Barbara U16s captured their second straight Junior Olympics national title. (Peter Neushul photo)

16U Girls   

With several girls playing both 16s and 18s, Santa Barbara took a measured approach in defending their 2015 National Junior Olympic Championship.  Led by coaches Levoff, Cathy Neushul, and Keith Leggett, the 16s won their first four games in the 72-team tournament by a combined score of 56-17.  Saturday afternoon posed a problem for Santa Barbara in its match with 680 Water Polo because the 18s played at the identical time.  Dividing and conquering fell just short as the 16 players raced over to the 680 game and ignited a four-goal comeback that fell short late in the fourth quarter ending with a 10-8 loss.

With one last play-in chance Saturday evening Santa Barbara crushed Rose Bowl, 12-6, advancing to Sunday’s semifinal with perennial power SET.  Santa Barbara broke open a hard-fought match late in the fourth, winning 7-5 and advancing to a championship rematch with 680.

At full-strength for the entire match, 805 crushed 680, 12-6, to capture its second consecutive 16U National Junior Olympic Championship. Ryann Neushul was named MVP.

The 16Us included Amelia Ayala, Paige Hauschild, Abrielle Hill, Sophie Leggett, Megan Musick, Ryann Neushul, Thea Neushul, Grace Raisin, Georgia Ransone, Jewel Roemer, Piper Smith, Alexandra Szymczak, and Faith Tedesco.  Sophia Trumbull, Riley Christen, and Faith Tedesco went the distance in goal for the 2016 National Junior Olympic Champions.

18U Girls

A shorthanded 18U girls team faced an uphill battle in returning to the championship game for the second year in a row.  Led by Cathy Neushul and Levoff, the 18s advanced undefeated into Day 3 of the tournament, when they faced powerhouse Socal in a match where the winner advanced directly to Sunday’s semifinal.  Augmented by several 16U players, the 18s took a three-goal lead into the fourth quarter but were unable to hang on, losing 9-8 to the eventual champions. 

The Socal loss left Santa Barbara with a final evening play-in chance against a physical Rose Bowl team backed by a Junior National Team goalie.  Battling through a tough first half, Santa Barbara opened up a lead late in the second quarter and went on to edge Rose Bowl 7-6 in the fourth.

On Sunday, 805 met a powerful SET team in a physical, low-scoring, semifinal.  Taking a one-goal lead into the fourth period, 805 relinquished two straight goals and fell 8-7. In the Bronze Medal game with 680, Santa Barbara lost 10-6.

Santa Barbara’s 18s included Kristina Garcia, Hailey Gellert, Paige Hauschild, Abrielle Hill, Sophie Leggett, Kailie Mcgeoy, Ryann Neushul, Brittany Prentice, Grace Raisin, Georgia Ransone, Jessee Ransone, Jewel Roemer, Juliana Shackelford, and Piper Smith.  Sophia Trumbull was between the pipes for the 18s.

10U Girls

The 805 Santa Barbara 10U girls took the bronze medal at the Junior Olympics. Click to view larger
The 805 Santa Barbara 10U girls took the bronze medal at the Junior Olympics. (Peter Neushul photo)

The youngest 805 team, led by Kelsie Hendrix and Levoff, took home a Bronze Medal in a five-team round-robin tournament held during Session 1 (boys) tournament.  The 10Us opened with a loss to eventual champion Laguna Beach, defeated Santa Barbara Premier (an all-star team), San Jose, and Stanford.  805 then played the same teams again, losing to the all-star SB Premier before defeating San Jose and Stanford.  The 10Us fell to Laguna in their final match and took home the Bronze Medal.

The 10U girls include Marina Brown, Julia Dollar, Lucy Haaland-Ford, Sophia Panossian, Katelyn Parker, Addison Parrish, Charlotte Raisin, and Abigail Webber.  Layla Szymczak was in goal for the 10U girls.

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