Chargers shake off slow start, down Dons 8-2

The juggernaut that is this year’s Dos Pueblos girls water polo team couldn’t seem to shoot straight at the outset of Tuesday’s match, managing to turn it on late to pick up an 8-2 win over visiting Santa Barbara.

The Chargers went to the post office in the first half — as in they kept hitting the post — and needed 30 shots to tally the eight goals.

“We got pretty lucky. They missed a ton of shots,” said Dons coach Mark Walsh. “It was kind of a perfect storm for us, in a good way, to stay in the game.”

Believe or not, DP’s goalie might share some of the blame.

Sami Hill, described by Santa Barbara’s Samantha King as “a brick wall,” was so dominant in warm-ups that her teammates were barely able to score on her at all.

“You should have seen her in warm-ups. She was on fire,” said DP senior Tiera Schroeder. “I think we got maybe three shots by her.”

Dos Pueblos' Tiera Schroeder winds up for a shot.

Dos Pueblos' Tiera Schroeder winds up for a shot.

Coach Danelle Little  said that shooting against the UCLA-bound Hill before a game can sometimes throw off the rest of the team.

“We’ve pulled her out of warm-ups before, because it throws the girls off. They feel like every shot has to be placed perfectly after shooting against her,” said Little.

Hence the near-misses off the post.

Hill had 11 saves, three steals and an assist while Kiley Neushul had four goals and three steals for the victors. Schroeder racked up two goals, four assists and four steals.

The Dons got on the board first when Makenzy Fowler assisted Kelsey O’Brien with 5:49 left in the first quarter. It took DP an entire quarter to get the equalizer, which came as Neushul beat the shot clock with 5:52 to go in the half. Schroeder followed up with two straight steals for the Chargers, but both ensuing shots missed. Santa Barbara goalie Maddie Trabucco made a nice save on DP’s next time down.

PHOTO GALLERY

Freshman Jamie Neushul, Kiley’s sister, managed to score the go-ahead goal with just under a minute to go in the half. Nonetheless, Little was disappointed with her team’s performance over the first two quarters, leading to a long team meeting after the match.

“Santa Barbara did a great job on defense and on counters,” said Little. “We were just talking about the team coming together. They just weren’t clicking out there.”

Added Schroeder: “We didn’t have the best communication out there in the first half. We knew it was going to be a tough game just because it’s a crosstown rivalry.”

But if the offense wasn’t clicking, there’s some serious defense to fall back on.

“They’re just highly skilled. Then you throw in the No. 1 goalie in the country as a last line of defense and it’s pretty hard (to score),” said Walsh.

Trabucco finished with eight saves, facing big-league fastballs from the likes of the elder Neushul throughout the game. The Chargers eventually hit their stride, scoring four goals in the final period. Makenzy Fowler scored the Dons’ second and final goal with 5:30 to go in the game.

Community West BankWalsh feels that it’s going to be tough for any team to play DP to within five goals this season, so being able to hang with the Chargers for awhile is something that the Dons can use to their advantage as they try to finish second in the Channel League for the second straight year.

King, meanwhile, isn’t ready to settle for second place just yet.

“It’s really motivating that we can hold the best team in the country like we did in the first half,” she said. “It shows that if we work hard enough, we might have a chance to beat them.”

The Dons (1-2, 0-1) play at Ventura on Thursday afternoon, while the Chargers (3-0, 1-0) host Buena on Tuesday.

DOS PUEBLOS 8, SANTA BARBARA 2

Santa Barbara…1  0  0  1 — 2

Dos Pueblos…0  2  2  4 — 8

Goals — SB: O’Brien, Hendrix. DP: KNeushul 4, Schroeder 2, JNeushul 2.

Saves — SB: MTrabucco 8. DP: SHill 11.

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