Neushul fills scoring column as DP edges Newport in title game

The undefeated Dos Pueblos girls water polo team survived its closest match of the season on Saturday, edging Newport Harbor 6-5 in the championship game of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions to capture their second-straight title at the top-tier tournament.

It was also the second-straight title at a top-tier tournament this season, as the Chargers, 17-0, defeated the same Sailors team 7-4 to win the Holiday Cup two weeks ago.

Newport Harbor, even without top-player Kaleigh Gilchrist, gave the Chargers a stiffer challenge the second time around.

“They came out fierce,ready to go and we didn’t come out ready,” said Dos Pueblos head coach Danelle Little, who thought her team’s defense wasn’t up to par.

Even so, the Chargers hunkered down and diffused two man-down situations in the final three minutes, clinging to a 6-5 lead.

Kiley Neushul was an easy pick for Tournament MVP, accounting for 9 of DP’s 16 goals in two games on Saturday, which included a 10-6 defeat of Corona del Mar in the semifinals.

Neushul collected three goals in the final, including what would be the eventual game-winner with 5:35 left in the fourth quarter. The 7-meter strike was the only score for DP in the second half.

“My role on this team is not to be the leading scorer and I understand that completely,” said Neushul, who added three steals and two assists. “We are a team because we play as a team.”

All of her scores came within the flow of the game, she said.

“I mean, if I have the shot I’m going to shoot it.”

Last year’s tournament-MVP Sami Hill recorded 13 saves and two steals in the final and was Dos Pueblos’ second player named to the All-Tournament team.


Los Alamitos, which lost to Newport Harbor in the semifinals, beat CDM 8-2 in the third-place game behind Rachel Fattal’s three goals.

Long Beach Wilson won the consolation bracket with a 6-5 win over Foothill.

There might be a shift in the Division II polls after Santa Barbara defeated No. 1 Palos Verdes 13-8 to reach the fifth-place game where the Dons fell to No. 2 Laguna Beach 5-4.

The Dons sank themselves into a 4-0 hole in the first half against the Breakers. Santa Barbara won the second half 4-1 but that wasn’t enough to overcome the slow first half.

The difference in results against Division II’s top teams stemmed from the Dons shooting percentage. Whereas Santa Barbara scored on 13-of-27 shots against the Sea Queens, the Dons missed on 27-of-31 against Laguna.

“We had a very bad first half,” said Santa Barbara’s Samantha King. “I mean, shut out the first half, that’s not good at all and is going to be really hard to come back from. I think if we had two more minutes we could have taken it away.”

Leah Gonzales, the Dons’ representative on the all-tournament team, scored two straight goals in the third quarter to try and bring the Dons back.

“It was really frustrating going into half being down 4-0 but I definitely think that our team is really good at not letting it get to us,” Gonzales, Santa Barbara’s only senior, said. “We just keep chugging along and it showed because we came back.”

Updated Bracket from this weekend's Tournament of Champions. Today's championship match between Dos Pueblos and Newport Harbor is at 4:35 p.m. at Santa Barbara High.