Dos Pueblos starts title defense strong behind Cleary’s 7 goals

Shannon Cleary scored a game-high seven goals against Mira Costa as the Dos Pueblos girls water polo team won 17-6 and took its first step towards a fifth consecutive CIF Division I title.

“Shannon was just unstoppable,” head coach Chris Parrish said about the sophomore.

Cleary was aided offensively by Jamie Neushul, who finished the game with five goals. The two players combined to score all five of the Chargers’ first quarter goals.

Mira Costa struck first on a long, off-speed shot by Jordan Raney with 4:20 left in the first quarter.

Dos Pueblos then rattled off five unanswered goals and was able to break the game open at the end of the first period when Neushul assisted on two Cleary goals in the final minute of play.

The defending champions continued to build their lead behind through tough defense.

“We scored enough goals that we were able to set our defense in the half-court on quite a few possessions,” Parrish said. “When we have match-ups and we know where to defend and where to start our defense from, it makes it very hard for other teams to score.”

The Chargers took a 10-2 lead into halftime and continued its dominance after the break.

Neushul and Cleary each had two goals in the second half and ensured that the result was never in doubt.

Dos Pueblos will host top-seeded Corona del Mar in the quarterfinals. The Sea Queens defeated Villa Park 17-3 in their first playoff game.

The two teams have met twice this season, with the Chargers losing both games by scores of 10-8 and 7-5.

“I’m very stoked,” Parrish said. “I’ve been here for ten years and we haven’t hosted a big quarterfinal match like that.”

The game will take place on Saturday at Elings Aquatic Center at 11:00 a.m.