WWP: Neushul leads Stanford over UCLA for NCAA title

Dos Pueblos alum Kiley Neushul scored five goals to lead Stanford to a 7-6 win over UCLA for its second straight NCAA women's water polo title. (Courtesy Photo)

Dos Pueblos alum Kiley Neushul scored five goals to lead Stanford to a 7-6 win over UCLA for its second straight NCAA women’s water polo title. (Courtesy Photo)

Five years ago, they celebrated winning a third straight CIF championship together.

On Sunday, Dos Pueblos alums Sami Hill and Kiley Neushul faced off to determine the outcome of the 2015 NCAA women’s water polo championship.

With 11 seconds remaining and the scored tied 6-6, Neushul of Stanford set up to take a penalty shot against Hill in the UCLA cage. Hill had just made a two-handed save and passed the ball to teammate Kodi Hill, also a Dos Pueblos alum. UCLA called timeout after Hill’s save, and Stanford was awarded a five-meter penalty shot as referees ruled the Bruins did not have possession of the ball.

Neushul beat her former high school teammate with a shot to the lower right corner, and Stanford won its second straight title, 7-6.

NCAA women’s water polo highlights

“We played great defense,” said UCLA coach Brandon Brooks, when asked about the interpretation of the five-meter penalty. “We funneled the ball to our goalie. Our goalie got a two-handed stop to establish possession. As soon as we had possession, I hit the horn. The referee believes that the goalie had it and threw it so that she did not have possession, and that resulted in a penalty shot.”

Hill, a senior, finished with eight saves in the cage for the Bruins.

Neushul, playing her last game for Stanford, led the Cardinal with five goals.

“I just depended on the support of my teammates,” Neushul told NCAA.com. “I had the hot hand and I kind of rode on that.”

Senior Ashley Goodman, scored Stanford’s other two goals.

Goodman didn’t even know she and Neushul were the only ones that had scored.

“Without even trying we showed up as seniors,” Goodman said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Junior Maggie Steffens never doubted the two would perform in the title game.

“It was really awesome that they scored all the goals,” Steffens told NCAA.com. “It just proves their leadership. Kiley was saying she had a hot hand but I don’t believe in hot hands. I think if you want to get it done it’s going to get done. I think both of them had that extra fire in them that gave them that hot hand.”

“She is a fantastic player,” Brooks said of Neushul. “On any given day she’s one of the best players in the world. We probably should have done a better job on her but she played a great game in her final game as a senior.”

Steffens said she wanted to win the title for her two senior teammates.

“I think they showed their passion and their heart in this game,” she said. “I know personally I was fighting for them. I would not let them lose this game. There was no way we were going to let them walk away without this national championship. They deserve it so much.”

It was the third NCAA title for Neushul and Goodman and the fourth championship for Stanford in five years.

Neushul said this title is especially gratifying for her.

“I’ve never had a good NCAA Tournament, ever,” she said. “It’s nice that I finally got one.”

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