WeissCrax: Wii are the Champions…

The Chargers played some video games on the Wii to stay loose before Saturday's CIF title match in Orange County.

It all comes down to this — the ultimate match-up of the evening. Two contenders going head-to-head.

Game… Title …. Honor … Glory… all on the line!!

Kiley Neushul – ‘All-World MVP’ for the multiple-times-defending CIF-SS (Southern Section) aquatic champs — the Dos Pueblos High School Charger Girls Water Polo Team, stands tall.

With what could be ‘the crowning jewel’ of her truly illustrious high school – pre NCAA, pre-Gold future – the one thing in her way is a force of ‘Olympic proportions’ in her own right.

Exuberant fans yell encouragement from all sides.

Then, in an uncharacteristic breach, Neushul is overheard telling her little feisty opponent, over whom she towers:

“You’re better than me. I think you are going to win.”

As expected, tho, she gives it her usual herculean effort. Tries all her best moves.

It ain’t enough. Not for this stage …

After all, we’re talkin’ that Wii game: ‘Just Dance’ – at Friday’s last team dinner before the Chargers’ Saturday CIF championship game vs. the Foothill Lady Knights in Irvine.

This is a rare, behind-the-scenes, inside view into the heart of these Charger Champions — right now the hottest (67-0, running two-year-plus win streak) and, arguably, THE Best Water Polo Team on The Planet.

WILD APPLAUSE ALL AROUND!!

Dos Pueblos' girls water polo team ended its season with a CIF trophy for the fourth straight year.

In exactly twenty-four hours, they will go ‘where no other girl has ever gone before’ – their truly golden opportunity to put their ‘exclamation mark’ on sport.

On life.

Amongst all the laughter, food and frolic here– these stars are as relaxed as can be — just having fun and enjoying time together.

As a team. As a family. With coaches and some parents.

And now all riding on a community of support.

These are confident young ladies – in a humbling, good kinda way – poised in the pool beyond their years. Likely because they know each other sooo well with many having played together as friends for 10 years or more on Club teams – over half their early lives!

Manana’s Final venue is the culmination of hard work in program that has pushed DP to the top of the California girls water polo universe. Amazingly, it all began about four years ago with this cadre of now seven seniors.

They’re all awesome, too, about keeping things in perspective and living in this very special moment… especially now with the immediate help of Sabina, senior Lauren Shackelford’s littlest kid sister:

“I win,” says this nine-year-old-still-reigning-Wii-Dance-Champion-and-up-and-coming-water- polo-star, after her contest with a smiling Neushul.

DP has ridden one incredible wave – perhaps likely never to be ridden ever again.

And they’re still riding high!

Credit not only today’s players, coaches and families but the others before them who have contributed greatly and who should, rightfully, savor this continued sweet streak of success.

An impressive list, at that — including distinguished alums, now scholarship players making their mark on the college game, like Alex Hill (CAL), Sami Hill (UCLA), Jessica Morelos (LMU) and Amanda Redfern (Indiana U) to name a few …

And for first year girls coach (and two-time CIF Champion DP boys water polo coach) Chris Parrish, well, he has had the enviable/unenviable task of keeping things on a championship course — taking over the ‘reign’(s) from Danelle Little (nee Muir) who stepped aside after the 2010 CIF title to start her family (her first baby is due any day now).

The Chargers are introduced at the William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine

While one could say Parrish has an easy ride with inheriting champion-caliber players and setting them ‘on cruise control’ – he and his dedicated assistant coaches, Paul Wilson and Conner Levoff — have worked relentlessly on conditioning for that ‘championship edge’ and keeping these Chargers well-grounded – even tho they play in liquid.

With ‘real game on the line’ – this is a team with unquestionable character and fortitude and one whom continually displays the uncanny ability to ‘dig deep’ when it counts.

To remain unfazed and do whatever it takes to win. A la Wednesday’s sudden-death OT victory vs. Laguna Beach when Tiera Schroeder’s game-ending goal propels them into The Finals.

Again.

And now, here in Irvine’s William Woollett, Jr. Aquatics Center 24-hours later — the stage is set for the world to see of what these Chargers are really made.

GAME COVERAGE HERE

It’s a near ‘home game’ for Foothill’s Lady Knights – whose high school is a short commute away.

Amongst the large crowd on this cool and dry evening (so far) are the Chargers’ faithful far from home and now expanding with family, fans, friends and club teammates past and present – including one end-zone section wearing mostly long, green poolside overcoats with large golden letters across their backs:

S-A-N-T-A B-A-R-B-A-R-A

These ‘Dons’ (Santa Barbara HS) know, too, that this is about C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y.

And during pre-game player introductions, the Goleta Champs are all dressed as prize fighters in their hooded, school-colors-terry-cloth robes and look absolutely ‘nada’ like the ‘heavyweights’ they really are.

With their little, ‘polite waves’ after The Voice blasts their name(s) – they, individually and collectively, appear almost embarrassed by the attention.

“But, this is one very special group of athletes,” offers Dan Feldhaus, DP’s athletic director standing nearby. “Once they put their helmets on, they go to work.”

Foothill and Dos Pueblos met for the CIF Division I title, with the Chargers pulling out the 16-10 victory.

Indeed they do …

When they hit the water – their pool persona changes in a flash! Just like ‘Dan DaMan’ predicts.

They ‘come out swinging’ and need exactly forty-six seconds to lead 1-0.

Foothill ties it 1-1 later in the first minute – it’s as close as they’ll get.

DP leads 5-1 after the 1st quarter and 9-3 at halftime.

Everyone with a loooong commute here knows ‘it’s over’ long before the final score: DP 16, Foothill 10.

Yes, that’s four-in-a-row CIF-SS Championships. Doesn’t matter that the last three were Division I, and their first Championship – Division II.

“It feels tremendous,” sez a soaking wet Coach Parrish after being tossed into the pool – all Chargers and coaches together. All smiles. All one big, very happy fam-a-lee …

“What else can I say? 67-0. What a legacy for these girls! They have set a new standard that is unbelievable.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” senior star Schroeder sez simply.

And while the elder, Stanford-bound Neushul might not have won the Friday night Wii dance contest – her nine Final goals showcase phenomenal range and an indomitable spirit – passes and shots encompassing power and finesse and all a fitting conclusion to a stellar high school athletic career, while providing exactly what the Chargers’ wanted and needed most from her one last time:

The Knock-Out Punch.

‘In this corner…’

SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT: Many thanx to ‘The Shack Attack’ – aka Team Shackelford, for all the luv & laughter, Friday dinner invite, Irvine carpool, Target tour and Lamp Post pre-game reception – all greatly appreciated!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] for allowing WeissCrax Nation a rare, insider’s view (and, of course, the accompanying scoop: Wii are the Champions) — at the most sacred, pre-game team dinner the night before perennial MVP Kiley Neushul and […]

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