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Schilling steps up for Sailors

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Junior has become force at two meters, notching some huge goals for Newport Harbor.

January 28, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

Elissia Schilling listened to her father, John, on the car ride just more than two weeks ago.

In her first year starting at center, Elissia was averaging about a goal per game for the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team. John believed his daughter could do more.

"He's always pushing me, which is a great thing," Elissia Schilling said. "We were driving up to Santa Barbara and talking in the car. I remember he was like, 'This is going to be your tournament. I can feel it.'"

Little more than a stone's throw from where he played basketball at UC Santa Barbara, John watched his words come true. His daughter scored nine goals in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, including the game-winner in overtime against Laguna Beach. She was on the all-tournament team, helping the Sailors finish a strong second despite being seeded fourth.

Maybe something was unleashed up there off Highway 101. Now, it seems like nobody can stop "Schil."

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The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week scored a big five goals in last week's 9-7 Sunset League victory over Los Alamitos, giving the Sailors the inside track to the league title. On Friday, she was at it again. Schilling scored a team-high four goals in the Sailors' nonleague victory over Laguna Beach, including the game-winning goal in the second sudden-death overtime period.

Friday's winner was a backhand. But she has also proven adept at sweep shots, lobs, any other shot in the book. She has worked hard on her leg strength and it's showing for the Sailors, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll.

"She's a very crafty shooter," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said. "It's not so much that her role has changed. She's become a more dominant player."

Schilling has zoomed up to second on the Sailors (15-4) with her 34 goals scored. She's just two goals behind one of her best friends, UCLA-bound senior teammate Maddy McLaren. Schilling is also third on the team with 20 steals.

But there's an intangible at work here, too — her drive to succeed.

"She's definitely very competitive, which helps us out a lot in big games," McLaren said after Schilling's effort against Los Alamitos. "She wants to go for the win. She'll score those last-second goals."

Schilling has come a long way from when she started playing the sport when she was 7 years old. At first, she wasn't sure water polo was the right sport.

"I played AYSO soccer," she said. "I was kind of skeptical about the whole thing."

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