GWP: Los Alamitos ousts Chargers on buzzer beater


Los Alamitos’ Sarah Siepker scored at the final buzzer on Wednesday to lift the Griffins over Dos Pueblos 9-8 in the first round of the CIF Division 1 playoffs.

Dos Pueblos had erased a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter, including the game-tying goal by Toni Shackelford with nine seconds on the clock. But Los Alamitos came back and scored on the game’s final play to advance to Saturday’s second round.

Siepker, the Griffins’ star senior who will be playing for Cal next season, took a pass from goalie Kennedy Joseph about seven meters away from the Dos Pueblos goal and had just enough space to release the winning shot.

“I didn’t know what the time was – I knew we had nine seconds but I didn’t hear anything like Kennedy counting down. I was just like, I’ve been faking long enough why not just shoot it,” Siepker explained.

“Then as soon as the ball hit the back of the net the buzzer went off and I was just thinking, ‘wow, if I waited one more second we wouldn’t have gotten that off’.”

Siepker finished with a team-high three goals in what could have been her final high school game.

“It’s definitely the best moment I’ve ever had playing high school water polo, especially senior year,” she said.

Los Alamitos' Sarah Spe scored the winning goal on Wednesday.

Los Alamitos’ Sarah Siepker scored the winning goal on Wednesday.


Los Alamitos head coach Brent Danna was relieved after watching his team give up a four-goal lead with less than four-minutes to play in the game.

“To be completely honest, if this thing goes to overtime, I don’t like our chances,” Danna said. “Momentum is cruel. Luckily we drew up a timeout play, called a timeout, and executed it to perfection.”

It was the second time this season the two teams had met. The Chargers prevailed 10-8 in the first clash in January at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

“The biggest difference was their recognition that Ryann (Neushul) was going to be a focal point of our offense. They really did a great job of denying her the ball,” said Chargers head coach Chris Parrish.

Three Los Alamitos defenders converge on Dos Pueblos' Ryann Neushul.

Three Los Alamitos defenders converge on Dos Pueblos’ Ryann Neushul.

The Dos Pueblos offense struggled to get off its feet as a result and the Chargers were able to score just two goals through the first three quarters. Los Alamitos took a 6-2 lead in the meantime.

The fourth quarter was a different story with six Dos Pueblos goals.

Nueshul, Shackelford and Olivia Kistler – who shared the team lead with two goals each – all scored in the final period.

Dos Pueblos, the eighth seed, finishes its season with a 17-10 record. Los Alamitos, the ninth seed, improves to 21-8 overall.

The Griffins advance to face undefeated No. 1 seed Laguna Beach on Saturday in the second round.

Los Alamitos' Abbey Blake takes a shot in front of Dos Pueblos' Whitney Steidl.

Los Alamitos’ Abbey Blake takes a shot in front of Dos Pueblos’ Whitney Steidl.