Top colleges recruit Eichelberger for water polo

Punahou goalkeeper Emalia Eichelberger made a save in the Buffanblu's 4-2 state title win over Kamehameha on Saturday. Photo by Darryl Oumi / Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Punahou goalkeeper Emalia Eichelberger made a save in the Buffanblu’s 4-2 state title win over Kamehameha on Saturday. Photo by Darryl Oumi / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Goalkeeper Emalia Eichelberger stopped 10 shots in Punahou’s 4-2 water polo state tournament victory over Kamehameha on Saturday.

The junior is not your standard issue, run-of-the-mill goalkeeper, as can be ascertained by the mere two goals she let in during the biggest match of the season.

The daughter of former PGA Tour and current Champions Tour golfer Dave Eichelberger, Emalia (pronounced Emma-LEE-ah) is being recruited heavily by some top college teams.

“Many teams are interested, but I’m pretty sure she will go to one of these four — Stanford, Cal, UCLA or USC,” Buffanblu coach Ken Smith said. “They are recruiting her and they are the teams that are always in the hunt for the NCAA title.”

But before she goes to college, Eichelberger has one more year to try to help Punahou to a ninth consecutive state title and 11th overall.

“She has been selected to the USA youth team and she has a tryout with the USA junior team, which is made up of players a few years older,” Smith said.

Eichelberger made first-team All-ILH a year ago, and on Saturday she was picked as the Most Outstanding Player of the state tournament after being picked for the all-tournament team last season.

In addition, Eichelberger was named as the top goalie of a tournament in Europe last summer, according to Smith.

And on top of that, Eichelberger won state titles in both varsity girls and mixed paddling in December.

“The biggest thing about her is her work ethic,” Smith said. “She’s never lazy. She is starting to see where water polo can take her and so she is highly self-motivated and highly coachable. She is extremely athletic.”

Two Buffanblu seniors — Kelly Fricke and Emma Choy — will play in college next season.

Fricke will play club water polo with her sister, Punahou alumna and former state championship team member Colleen Fricke, at Notre Dame. Choy will play for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and will attend Claremont.

Choy will join former Buffanblu state-tournament MVP Roxy Kiessling on the Claremont roster.

“Both are great leaders with all-around ability,” Smith said about Fricke and Choy.


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