Sailors do it in overtime

CORONA DEL MAR — Do not ask Newport Harbor High Coach Bill Barnett what his record is in the Battle of the Bay in girls' water polo. He has been a part of so many against Corona del Mar that it is hard to keep track of the wins and losses.

The longtime coach is sure of one thing every time the Sailors and Sea Kings meet in the pool.

"[It's] always a one-goal game," Barnett said with a grin.

Barnett could smile on Friday night because he was on the winning side of another nail-biter with the Sea Kings.

On a rainy night at CdM, the Sailors squeaked out a 6-5 victory in overtime, keeping them undefeated four games into the season. Newport Harbor can thank Elissia Schilling, who recorded the game-winner 59 seconds into the first of two three-minute overtime periods.

Schilling got her first taste of the intense rivalry on the varsity level. She made a big splash at the start and at the end for the Sailors, ranked No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll.

The sophomore recorded Newport Harbor's first and last goals. The initial one sparked a comeback and the final one lifted the Sailors to a thrilling win.

Schilling was not even supposed to take the shot. With the 30-second shot clock expiring, and five meters away from the goal, Schilling unleashed an uncharacteristic shot.

"I'm a backhand girl," said Schilling, referring to her lethal backhanded shot, which she decided against trying because she figured No. 5-ranked CdM expected it.

Schilling went to a shot the Sailors work on in practice, one she rarely takes in games. The sweep shot worked to perfection for Schilling as it hit off the post and went in for a goal.

The Sailors were 3 minutes, 59 seconds away from defeating CdM for the second straight season. They had goalie Sarah Wilkey, who made big save after big save to keep the Sailors ahead.

The Sea Kings could not get anything past Wilkey in the final six minutes of overtime, and they dropped to 1-3 on the season. The other two CdM losses have come against elite teams in Division I, Dos Pueblos of Goleta and Santa Barbara, programs ranked No. 1 and No. 4, respectively.

Dos Pueblos saw the Battle of the Bay as it was waiting to play Los Alamitos right after the CdM-Newport Harbor game.

The way the Sea Kings jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period, they looked unstoppable. Then they managed just two goals in the final 27 minutes of action.

Sam Bailey, in his first season as CdM's head coach, credited Newport Harbor's defense for slowing down the Sea Kings' attack, especially on power-play situations after the first period. CdM was one of eight with the extra-player advantage after the first.

Bailey warned his players about the Sailors after CdM's Diana Murphy and Lauren Marks each converted power-play goals and Pippa Saunders recorded a five-meter penalty shot in the first seven minutes.

"We knew that we were executing well," said Bailey, who watched CdM go two for three with in power-play situations in the first period. "But we also knew that Newport Harbor is a very, very talented team. I don't think the girls let down any. Newport Harbor came back strong."

Schilling led the charge for the Sailors.

A power-play opportunity 27 seconds into the second period was the best way for Newport Harbor to start a rally down, 3-0.

The Sailors capitalized. Schilling put away the Sailors' first goal after Mary Rose Wright fed her a pass down low.

Newport Harbor's second goal came two minutes later. This time, it was Schilling assisting on the goal.

Schilling and Carly Christian executed a give-and-go after Christian stole the ball. Christian found the back of the net and the Sailors pulled within one.

Newport Harbor evened the game with 89 seconds left in the period. Catherine Carpenter, near the far post, tapped in a goal off a pass from Presley Pender. The Sailors in the second period matched CdM's first-period goal production.

The momentum stayed with Newport Harbor in the third period.

After Wilkey stopped CdM's six-on-five advantage twice in the first 21/2 minutes in the third, Christian's second goal gave Newport Harbor its first lead with 4:10 to go in the period. Less than a minute later, the advantage increased to two when Pender scored a power-play goal.

CdM's Cassidy Papa cut the deficit to one with a skip shot. Heading into the fourth, Newport Harbor was without Pender. She picked up three exclusions.

One minute into the fourth period, the Sailors lost Carpenter after receiving her third exclusions. With the Sailors playing without two strong players, Saunders took advantage late for CdM.

Saunders tied it at 5-5 with 68 seconds remaining in the fourth period. Schilling took responsibility for allowing Saunders to score her second goal that forced overtime.

"I messed up big-time at the end [of regulation]," Schilling said of her defensive assignment. "Coach Barnett tells us when it comes down to the end of the game Pippa is going to be one to shoot it [for CdM]. I let it go [once we entered overtime]. I needed to dig deep down to come up and end the game strong."

Schilling delivered. There was no stronger way for her to cap a Battle of the Bay debut on varsity than with a game-winner.

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