WWP: Ten local products competing at NCAA Championships

UCLA's women's water polo team features Kelsey O'Brien, left, Sami Hill, center, and Kodi Hill, right, all of whom come from Santa Barbara.

UCLA’s women’s water polo team features Kelsey O’Brien, left, Sami Hill, center, and Kodi Hill, right, all of whom come from Santa Barbara.

 

This weekend’s NCAA Division I Championship will feature a reunion of Santa Barbara Water Polo Club players. With ten women competing on four of the eight teams participating at the championship, Santa Barbara’s alumni have more than enough players to make their own team. Indeed, playing together in club and in high school, this same group of players won numerous Junior Olympic, National Club, and CIF championships.

First-seeded Stanford features two Santa Barbara attackers in Kiley and Jamie Neushul (DPHS). Second seeded UCLA has Sami Hill in goal along with attackers Kodi Hill (DPHS) and Kelsey O’Brien (SBHS). Fourth seeded Cal has Madeline Trabucco (SBHS) starting in goal with attacker Tiera Schroeder (DPHS) in the field. Seventh seeded UCSD features attackers Leah Gonzales (SBHS) and Laurel Kistler (DPHS). Finally, Amanda Redfern (DPHS) is a center defender for eighth seeded Indiana.

Together, the Sami Hill, Kiley Neushul, Amanda Redfern, and Tiera Schroeder christened the new Elings Pool at Dos Pueblos High School with the 2008 Division II CIF Championship. Joined by Kodi Hill, Jamie Neushul, and Laurel Kistler, the group went on to win an unparalleled three Division I CIF Championships that included two straight undefeated seasons with a record of 67-0. Led by Coach Cathy Neushul, Kodi Hill, Kelsey O’Brien, Jamie Neushul, and Laurel Kistler won consecutive 18U National Junior Olympic championships in 2012 and 2013.

At the conclusion of the 2014 collegiate season Sami Hill was named MPSF player of the year. Kiley Neushul was named to the MPSF first team for the third consecutive year and Jamie Neushul was on the All-Newcomer team. During the season Kodi Hill and Kiley Neushul were named MPSF Athletes of the Week while Madeline Trabucco and Jamie Neushul both received Newcomer of the Week honors. Leah Gonzales helped UCSD win the 2013 Harper Cup, the first in school history, and was named game MVP. Last summer, Kiley Neushul, Kodi Hill, and Tiera Schroeder won the 2013 Junior World Championship in Volos Greece, Team USA’s first junior world title since 2005. As members of the US Senior Women’s team, Sami Hill and Kiley Neushul helped Team USA win the 2013 Holiday Cup with a perfect 5-0 record after victories over Holland, Russia, Canada, Australia, and Greece.

This weekend’s NCAA tournament features the largest and most talented field in the history of women’s collegiate water polo. Ten teams qualified for the NCAA’s, a number that was cut to eight after Indiana and UCSD eliminated Wagner and Pomona in play-in games to determine the final slate. The tournament includes #1Stanford, #2UCLA, #3USC, #4Cal, #5ASU, #6UCI, #7UCSD, and #8Indiana. In the first round Stanford and the Neushul sisters will face Amanda Redfern and Hoosiers while Leah Gonzalez and Laurel Kistler’s UCSD Tritons face off against the Hill sisters, Kelsey O’Brien and the Bruins. Tiera Schroeder, Madeline Trabucco, and the Cal Bears will have a rematch with a tough ASU team that upended defending National Champion USC at the MPSF championship. Meanwhile, USC’s Trojans will face the Big West champion Anteaters of UCI.

The NCAA Championships start Friday at USC’s new Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Game times are UCLA vs. UCSD at 12:00PM; USC vs. UCI at 1:45PM; Stanford vs. Indiana at 3:30PM; and Cal vs. ASU at 5:15PM. Saturday’s quarterfinal matchups will be determined by Friday’s outcomes.

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