Scoring inside, outside, while submerged, bank-handed, hard, with finesse, with one touch and on a 360 move, Kiley Neushul put on a show to lead Dos Pueblos to its fourth straight CIF girls water polo championship and a second straight undefeated season Saturday night at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.
Neushul was magnificent in her final high school game as she tallied nine goals in a 16-10 victory over seventh-seeded Foothill in the Division 1 final. It was the third straight D-1 title for the Chargers (31-0) and their 67th straight victory since 2009.
Neushul and teammate Tiera Schroeder finished their DP careers as four-time CIF champions — they were part of a Division 2 title as freshmen.
“I’m really happy,” said Neushul, who is headed to Stanford. “Regardless of how many wins we had, it’s all about this game. This is my senior year, my last game. Me and the other six seniors we’re really excited to go out in this fashion. We played a very good game, all of us.”
Schroeder, who is committed to Cal, was emotional about the fourth championship being her last game with her Charger teammates.
“I couldn’t ask for a better season than this,” she said. “It was an amazing time … I had the time of my life. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. We did amazing this season and to do it twice in a row without anyone beating us … It was a pleasure playing with my whole family.”
In the semifinals against Laguna Beach, Schroeder scored the winning goal in sudden-victory overtime on a pass from Neushul.
Against Foothill, Schroeder fed Neushul for a highlight-reel goal in the second period. As the pass came in from the left wing, Neushul, instead of catching it, redirected the ball into the net with a volleyball-like slap. That gave the Chargers a commanding 7-2 lead.
On another goal, she was knocked under the water and threw in a shot. And on her final goal, she did a 360 move to elude the goalkeeper and scored.
“I think I was just in the right place and the right time, and I matched up better against them,” said Neushul of her biggest goal-scoring output of the playoffs.
Foothill (19-11), which upset No. 3 Los Alamitos and No. 2 Corona del Mar to reach the final, did all it could to contain Neushul. The Knights even tore her swim suit early in the game.
“It happens,” Neushul said. “It’s a tough game. People are grabbing everyone. She (McKenna Mitchell) was a strong girl. It was just the heat of the moment. Lucky for us, she’s one of their best players and she got kicked out.”
“It’s hard,” first-year Foothill coach Jeff Colton said trying to stop DP. “They move so well and they have so many great players. They work really hard as a team.”
Ari St. Oegger scored the first goal of the game and Foothill came right back and equalized on a goal by Mitchell.
Neushul tallied her first goal of the night to put DP ahead for good. The Chargers scored three more before the Knights found the back of the net again.
Foothill failed to score on a couple of 6-on-5 situations in that span. The Knights were one of nine for game on power plays.
After Foothill missed a power play opportunity at 5-2, Neushul made it pay with a goal on an off-speed shot inside the far post.
DP goalie Chandler Vilander stopped Foothill’s next attack and the Chargers responded with Neushul’s one-touch redirect and a near-post goal by Nicole Morelos for an 8-2 advantage.
Neushul scored her fifth goal of the game before halftime for a 9-3 lead.
Asked if he would of done anything different in the game, Colton said, “Don’t let Kiley score nine nine goals. She’s an amazing player. When one girl scores nine goals, it makes it tough.”
Neushul said all season she looks forward to the bright lights and the excitement of playing in the CIF Championship game.
“This atmosphere is really fun for me to play in. I just wanted to step up tonight.”
Kodi Hill scored four times and keyed a solid defensive effort for the Chargers. Jamie Neushul, Nicole Morelos and Ari St. Oegger managed the other goals.
Mitchell scored four goals and Kelli Boling added three for Foothill.
For coach Chris Parrish, the title meant a big weight was off his shoulders.
“At the end of the game, I thought I lost about 500 pounds,” he said after taking the traditional victory plunge with his players. “That’s just about what the burden has been this season with this team.”
Despite the pressure of the winning streak and four-peating, Parrish said he had a great time coaching the Chargers.
“It’s amazing. To be the head of this group, is really rewarding.”