Santa Barbara’s 18s claim Junior Olympic water polo championship

Santa Barbara 18U Team takes a team photo after its Junior Olympic Championship Game

It was as good of a send-off as it gets, as the Girls 18s team from the Santa Barbara Aquatic Club won the Junior Olympic championship in the final club matches for veterans Kodi Hill, Charlotte Hendrix and Laurel Kistler.

The Junior Olympic tournament was held from August 1 to August 5 at Stanford University and surrounding facilities.

The Girls 18s team was the lone champion from SBAC, although the 12s team barely missed out on a title by falling 7-5 to SoCal in the championship match. In the 14s division, SBAC placed 3rd by defeating Rose Bowl 7-6 in the third-place contest.

For the 18s, it was a tough struggle throughout the tournament.

Santa Barbara survived San Diego Shores in the quarterfinals in a shoot out. Then SBAC ousted eventual third-place team, and pre-tournament favorites, SoCal in the semis.

In the championship match, Santa Barbara matched up with Huntington Beach Blue. Jamie Neushul led Santa Barbara in scoring with four goals in the 8-7 game. Charlotte Hendrix scored three times.

Of the players playing in their final Junior Olympic competition, Kodi Hill will be playing at UCLA, Hendrix at Harvard, and Kistler to UC San Diego.

Santa Barbara goalkeeper Maddie Trabucco was named the tournament’s MVP.

The complete roster for the 18U Girls team includes Rocio Fesembeck, Bess Grode, Hendrix, Hill, Halie Johnson, Kistler, Hannah Koper, Lauren McCaslin, Jamie Neushul, Kelsey O?Brien, Maddie Trabucco, Sophie Trabucco, and Tess Wardle.

Head coach Cathy Neushul also brought up some players from the 16U team to contribute. Betsy Hendrix did just that, converting a goal under pressure in the quarterfinal shootout.

It completes a highly successful season for the girls teams from SBAC, which had two teams win national club championships in July.