Brooks, Neushul, Longan lead U.S. into Junior World final

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Former Dos Pueblos star Jamie Neushul (No. 8, center) has led Team USA into the final at the FINA Junior Women’s World Water Polo Championship in Greece. (Peter Neushul photo).

Mary Brooks fired home four goals and Dos Pueblos alum Jamie Neushul put away two scores as Team USA defeated Russia, 13-11, Saturday night in the semifinals of the 11th FINA Junior Women’s Water Polo World Championship in Volos, Greece.

The U.S. fought through a slow start — down 0-3 in the first quarter — and built a 7-4 lead at the half. Up 12-8 early in the fourth the Americans held off the Russians to reach the final.

Amanda Longan went the distance in goal with monster blocks on Russia’s vaunted center forwards, including two-handing a backhand from Anastasia Simanovich, the tournament’s leading scorer from center. Sunday’s final against Spain will be streamed live at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. For link, click here

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

In Friday’s quarterfinal Longan made 13 saves against a hard-shooting Brazilian team to help lead Team USA to a 12-9 victory and a berth in the semis vs. Russia. Jamie Neushul scored three goals and Mary Brooks struck twice for the United States.

Sunday’s Gold Medal Game against Spain will be a re-match of the 2013 title game where Santa Barbara’s Kodi Hill, Kiley Neushul, and Tiera Schroeder led Team USA to the World Championship.

FINA’s experiment with 5 on 5 in the field is proving successful as the format leads to more goals scored and increases scoring percentage off of power plays. Power plays in the normal 6 on 6 format favor defenses and are boring at times especially in high level competition. Eliminating one player opens the field of play, leading to counter attacks, fast power-play finishes, and overall increased offense.

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