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Christian's drive key for Sailors

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior, who is bound for UC Santa Barbara, has emerged as Newport Harbor's top scorer and helps in a multitude of ways.

January 03, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High senior water polo player Carly Christian is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Newport Harbor High senior water polo player Carly Christian… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Carly Christian got to experience winning a CIF Southern Section Division 1 title a year early.

Like many prep water polo players, Christian thought that her senior year would be her best shot at the title. But she helped the upstart Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team win CIF last February as a junior, coming from behind for a thrilling 8-7 victory over rival Corona del Mar.

The trip through the season was thrilling for Newport Harbor, which had lost three of four previous meetings to CdM and had started the year ranked just No. 5 in Division 1.

"Last year we weren't expecting to win," Christian said. "Me and Elissia [Schilling] were expecting to win it our senior year, so last year kind of surprised us. But we know how it feels now to win, and we want to take that and keep it for this year. We need to keep the confidence up. That feeling of winning last year, we don't want to lose that this year."

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Christian and Schilling, who have grown up playing water polo together, are now senior co-captains for the Sailors (7-3). They are doing everything in their power to help the Sailors go back-to-back.

Christian, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, has stepped up as Newport Harbor's leading scorer. She has 28 goals. Her speed has been a constant for the Sailors in her three years on varsity, but her shot has improved enough to where she typically now takes penalty shots for the team.

Christian scored seven goals last weekend as Newport Harbor, ranked No. 3 in Division 1, finished third in the Holiday Cup. The Sailors bounced back from a 7-6 loss to Santa Barbara in the semifinals to beat CdM, 7-4, in the third-place match. Christian then added three more goals Wednesday as Newport Harbor beat Edison, 11-5, to open Sunset League play.

The quickness factor is big for Christian, who is just 5-foot-5. She's been a varsity swimmer since her freshman year. She wins the majority of quarter-opening sprints for the Sailors and is deadly on the counterattack.

The speed — and opponents' tendency to grab her to stop her drives — also makes Christian one of the team leaders in exclusions drawn.

"Because of her speed, people latch onto her," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said. "She's just very quick, very fast. She's a really good swimmer and a really good shooter. She helps a lot on defense too. Because of her quickness and speed, she can crash a lot on two meters. She makes a lot of steals that way."

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