NEWPORT BEACH — Prior to the second sudden-death overtime, the last voice that could be heard before the sprint was that of Newport Harbor High junior Elissia Schilling.
“Hey, let’s pick it up right here,” Schilling said, before turning to goalie Cleo Harrington. “Fire up, Clee!”
The frantic game had already gone nine extra minutes. Both teams had to be tired.
Schilling’s words provided inspiration to her teammates. Just more than two minutes later, her shot ended the game.
Schilling scored a backhand goal from set with 43 seconds left in the second sudden-death overtime, giving Newport Harbor a wild 11-10 nonleague victory over Laguna Beach on Friday at Newport Harbor High.
It was her third big moment in the last two weeks. Schilling also scored the winner in overtime against the same Breakers in a Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions quarterfinal Jan. 13. Five days later, she scored the last two goals in a 9-7 victory over Los Alamitos for first place in the Sunset League.
The word on the tongues of many people on the Newport Harbor pool deck was “clutch.”
“‘Schil’ is totally clutch,” junior Carly Christian said. “She’s our savior, for sure, the past couple weeks. I’m so proud of her.”
Christian wasn’t so bad herself. After she scored a counterattack goal midway through the third quarter, she started cramping up. Yet, she was back in there at the start of the fourth, ready to win yet another sprint. Christian, who had a goal and two steals, won all eight sprints in the game.
“It just totally ‘spazzed’ out on me, my calf,” said Christian after noticeably limping out of the locker room. “I didn’t let it slow me down, though.”
The Sailors (15-4), ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches’ poll, were still slowed down in the second half against No. 6 Laguna Beach (15-5). They could not hold a 6-2 halftime lead.
Harvard-bound senior Yoshi Andersen, who led all scorers with five goals, tied it at 7-7 on a penalty shot midway through the fourth quarter. Newport Harbor took the lead again, as Presley Pender scored off a pass from Maddy McLaren on the power play with 1:48 left. But Laguna also earned a kickout, and Andersen scored again bar-in with a minute left, sending the game into overtime.
Senior Sophie Leveque (two goals) had fouled out for the Sailors. Three other starters — McLaren, Schilling and Pender — all had been excluded twice.
“We’ve been really working on two-meter ‘D’ in practice,” Pender said. “Personally, I was like, ‘I have two, I cannot get another.’ We just had to step up defensively.”
Harrington stepped up defensively, making a career-high 18 saves in the game. So did the Sailors as a unit; no one else would foul out in the four overtime periods. Instead, Pender and Schilling scored in the first overtime period for the Sailors. Lexie Del Toro kept her team close, scoring from about six meters for Laguna Beach.
“That’s why you need to press more!” Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett yelled to his players.
Breakers freshman Makenzie Fischer scored a six-on-five goal in the second overtime period, tying the score at 10 and sending the game to sudden death.
In the first sudden-death overtime, the Sailors failed to convert two six-on-five chances. The second one came near the end of the period, as McLaren countered and Andersen fouled out trying to stop her. But a shot at the quarter buzzer went off the bar.
Newport Harbor missed another six-on-five midway through the second sudden-death period, and Laguna goalie Jenna Knott made a nice save on a hard skip shot from McLaren with a minute to go.
But Newport Harbor got the ball back. Pender knew what to do with it. She threw it into two meters to Schilling, who also knew what to do with it. She scored it on one of her specialty moves, the backhand, ending more than 39 minutes of game action.
“Whenever she’s in set, it’s like, ‘Just get it to Schill,’” Pender said. “She’ll take care of it. We have a lot of confidence in her.”
Pender scored three goals for Newport Harbor and McLaren also scored a goal. Avery Peterson had a team-high three steals for Newport Harbor, which converted just two of eight power-play opportunities. Laguna Beach was four of eight with the extra player, but Andersen also netted three penalty shots.
Knott played strong in the overtime periods and finished with 10 saves for the Breakers, who have lost games by a single goal to Newport Harbor (twice), Foothill and Santa Barbara.
“Obviously, we can’t go down 6-2 to a team like Newport, but I think we’ve shown a ton of heart,” Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato said. “We haven’t given up in any game ever. That’s our fourth one-goal loss, and I really feel that we’re a mistake or two away from winning. If we can clean up those mistakes in the next three weeks, then we’ll be in good shape.”
The last big in-season tournament of the regular season, the Irvine SoCal Championships, begins Thursday. Newport Harbor is seeded second.
With all of the top teams in Division I so competitive, the Sailors can’t rest on their laurels. Still, Friday’s win over Laguna Beach was a big one.
“We had so many chances,” Christian said. “We just kept on fighting. We knew that this game counted a lot for CIF rankings, and we just didn’t let down. We knew they were going to come back strong like that, so we just came back stronger I guess.”