Jamie Neushul brings home gold from Junior World Championship

Team USA members and Santa Barbara Water Polo Club alums Mary Brooks, left, Jamie Neushul and Amanda Longan celebrate after winning the gold medal at the FINA Women's Junior World Water Polo Championship. (Peter Neushul photo)

Team USA members and Santa Barbara Water Polo Club alums Mary Brooks, left, Jamie Neushul and Amanda Longan celebrate after winning the gold medal at the FINA Women’s Junior World Water Polo Championship. (Peter Neushul photo)

Jamie Neushul joined the Santa Barbara and USA Water Polo gold rush as she helped the U.S. Junior National Team win the FINA Junior World Championship on Sunday in Volos, Greece.

The Dos Pueblos alum scored during a 3-1 run in the second period to break a 4-4 tie and spark Team USA to a 13-10 win over Spain in the championship game.

The world junior title adds to the collection of major championships by the USA Water Polo Women’s National Team program. The program reigns as Olympic, FINA World, FINA Youth World, FINA World Cup and World League champions.

Neushul’s older sister, Kiley,  along with Kami Craig and Sami Hill earned golds at the World League and World Championships with the USA Senior National team this year and won the World Cup last year. Craig won an Olympic title in 2012.

Neushul’s goal during the Americans’ 3-1 run gave  them a 7-5 lead at halftime. Two goals each from Mary Brooks and Alexis Liebowitz in the third period expanded the lead to 11-7.

Spain mounted a rally in the fourth quarter, scoring three goals. But Team USA countered with two goals early from Aria Fischer and Emily Loughlin to secure the win.

Fischer, the tournament’s MVP, and Brooks each scored four goals to the U.S. Goalie Amanda Longan stopped 13 shots and was named the top goalkeeper.

Neushul, Brooks and Longan are alumni of the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club.

Neushul, the team captain, said a key to the team’s success was how quickly everyone came together.

“I think that we got together a cohesive group of talented girls and we were given the challenge of becoming a team in a short period of time, which is no easy feat,” she said. “We knew the only way we could win was to win together. Rather than a relying on talent alone, we were able to rely on one another and play for each other through every possession. It is a staple of USA water polo, and a staple of champions.”

Said coach Coralie Simmons: “The dedication, trust, and teamwork that went into this World Championships has allowed for these athletes to become a part of the USA Water Polo legacy. This team believed we could form the best team in the world and proved it today in the final. My staff and I are very proud to be a part of this special group.”

Simmons and her staff of Natalie Benson  and Betsey Armstrong  are believed to be the first all-female staff to win a major championship in USA Water Polo history.

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