SB 805 earns 4 medals at Junior Olympics; 16s win national title

16U JO champions

The Santa Barbara 805 16s won the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics gold medal.

It was quite a week for the Santa Barbara 805 Water Polo Club at the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics.

The club had three teams reach the Platinum national finals and came away with one gold medal and two silvers, while another team took the gold in the Championship Division, capping one of the most successful weekend’s in club history.

Named the nation’s top girls club in 2014, Santa Barbara 805 consolidated its position atop United States Water Polo.

The Santa Barbara 805 16s captured the national championship with a dramatic 9-8 win over Saddleback El Toro (SET) in the Platinum final. In the other national finals, the 14s fell to Rose Bowl Aquatics, 9-7, and the 18s suffered a 6-3 loss to 680 Water Polo Club of Northern California.

The 805 18U B squad defeated Seattle Water Polo, 10-8, for the gold in the Championship Division.

Here is a recap of the 805 teams at the Junior Olympics.

14U Silver

Led by coaches Cathy Neushul, Pam Tanase, and John Roemer, the 14s advanced unbeaten to the semifinals, where they faced Diablo of Northern California.  The see-saw game finished in overtime with the teams tied 6-6.  Santa Barbara won the shootout after Sydney Klakeg smothered a Diablo skip shot attempt.

The SB 805 14s earned the silver medal.

The Santa Barbara 805 14s finished as silver medalists.

The 14s then faced Rose Bowl Aquatics in the championship and blasted to a 5-0 lead behind the superb play of Jewel Roemer. Santa Barbara could not hang on in the final half, falling by a score of 9-7.

The 2015 Silver Medalists included Liliana Rose Akin, Sara Engmyr, Abrielle Hill, Olivia Kistler, Sydney Klakeg (G), Fiona Kuesis, Sarah Owens, Kayla Peacock, Chloe Pena, Grace Raisin, Jewel Roemer, and Fiona Sonni.

16U Gold

Santa Barbara’s 16s, coached by Cathy Neushul, Dean Heck, and John Roemer, rebounded from an early shootout loss to 680 Water Polo Club of Northern California with consecutive Saturday wins over Saddleback El Toro (SET) Pink, Huntington Beach, and Commerce.  The 16s faced two powerful opponents on championship Sunday, knocking out perennial power Socal, 11-6, in the morning semifinal before taking on top-seeded SET in the final.

The championship game, a repeat of the 2014 Gold Medal match, was a one-goal affair until the fourth quarter when scores by Brittany Prentice, Ryann Neushul, and Paige Hauschild put Santa Barbara up by two.  SET pulled within one goal with 30 seconds left, but Santa Barbara stole the ball and later drew a 5-meter penalty.  The team declined the attempt and let the game clock run out for a 9-8 victory.

The 2015 16U National Champions are Jessie Brummett, Paige Hauschild, Grace Heck, Abrielle Hill, Olivia Kistler, Lara Kostruba, Kari Jensen, Kailie Mcgeoy, Ryann Neushul, Brittany Prentice, Grace Raisin, and Jewel Roemer.  Sophia Trumbull anchored the team in goal. Hauschild was named tournament MVP.

The club's 18U  girls finished second in the Platinum Division.

The club’s 18U A team took the silver medal in the Platinum Division.

18U Silver

The 18s advanced undefeated through pool play undefeated, knocking off powerhouse Socal Water Polo in their home pool at Foothill High School in the quarterfinal game.  In the semis, the 18s met SET water polo, a veteran team anchored by two of the country’s best center forwards: national team standout Aria Fischer of Laguna Beach High and Amber McCutcheon of San Clemente High.  Santa Barbara dropped on SET’s center forwards and challenged SET to score from outside on goalie Amanda Longan.  Longan’s virtuoso performance stymied SET’s shooters who failed to match the relentless driving from Jessee Ransone and key goals from Kristina Garcia, Kate Koski, and Toni Shackelford.  Santa Barbara put the game out of reach during the 4th quarter.

In the final, Cathy Neushul’s team faced 680 Water Polo Club, the team that defeated Santa Barbara at the recent United States Club Championship.  In a defensive struggle that left the two teams tied 1-1 at half, 680 managed to break the deadlock in the third quarter, opening up a three-goal lead.  Santa Barbara was unable to answer and fell 6-3 in the championship game.

The 2015 Silver Medalists included Jessie Brummett, Katherine Coski, Kristina Garcia, Hailey Gellert, Paige Hauschild, Riley Heiduk, Abrielle Hill, Lara Kostruba, Ryann Neushul, Brittany Prentice, Jessee Ransone, Jewel Roemer, Juliana Shackelford and Ariana Singer.  Amanda Longan went the distance in goal for the 18s.

Championship Division Teams

The number of teams qualifying for the top-tier Platinum Championship Division is the best measure of Santa Barbara’s overall performance at the 2015 National Junior Olympics.

Santa Barbara’s 12U girls, coached by Kelsie Hendrix, placed 10th in the Championship Division.  Megan Linder’s 14U B team placed 10th and Makenzy Fowler’s 14U C team took 21st in the top division.

The 16U B team, coached by Alexis Lee, took 17th in Platinum, while Fowler’s 16U C team finished 22nd in the Classic Division.  In the Gold Division, Dennis Van Alphen’s 18U B team won the gold medal in the championship game.

Santa Barbara’s overall performance in the world’s largest youth water polo tournament is a tribute to head coach Connor Levoff’s organizational skill and one of the nation’s deepest and most talented coaching staffs.