Posted: 12:00 p.m. Friday, June 6, 2014

Sarah Shilling, Oxbridge, Post girls lacrosse player of the year


Sarah Shilling - Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year photo
Madeline Gray
Sarah Shilling of Oxbridge Academy is the All-Area Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)

By Alyssa Barbieri

Special to The Post

When Sarah Shilling started as a sophomore at Oxbridge Academy, the school was brand new. There was no established lacrosse program. There were literally just a few people to play. But that’s what has made Schilling’s three-year run at Oxbridge all the more memorable.

Fast-forward three years later, where Shilling closed out her senior season as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 168 goals and with a district title, the program’s first. This season she scored 119 goals with 37 ground balls and 56 draw controls.

“This year we won the district championship, which was our team goal for the year,” she said. “Then I set the goal for myself to score at least 100 goals, and I did it in the same season. It’ll always be a special season for me.”

But the success didn’t come without its challenges, the biggest of which took form in the youth and inexperience of the team, which is something the program has struggled with since its inception in 2011.

“When you’re playing against teams that have been together a long time and have played competitive it’s challenging,” Shilling said.

But overcoming that helped make the district championship all the sweeter. Shilling led the Thunderwolves with six goals in the 11-9 victory over Cardinal Newman, which gave Oxbridge its first state tournament berth. The Thunderwolves lost in the first round to Benjamin 17-3.

A three-year captain, Shilling played an integral part in helping mold the younger players. But she also found a family that brought her closer in both her lacrosse life and her personal life.

“Our whole school is like a family, with our team being even more of a family,” said Shilling, who is still mulling her sports and academic college options. “Everyone got along, we’d have team dinners and team bonding. That makes it so much more fun on the field. Obviously we didn’t win every game because we went up against some good competition, but win or lose we’d always have a good time. We got closer lacrosse-wise and personally.”

Growing up, Shilling played many sports, including softball, soccer, tennis, golf and swimming. But it was an injury in softball that ultimately guided her to lacrosse. In seventh grade, Shilling had elbow surgery and didn’t return to the sport. Instead, she found herself drawn to lacrosse, like many of her friends. She soon fell in love and never looked back.

“I really wanted to try lacrosse because some of my friends were playing it,” she said. “They were like, ‘It’s so fun. You need to come play.’ So I talked my parents into it. I finally played at my Midfielderdle school, and then I joined JTAA (Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association) team and I just loved it so much and kept getting better and better.”


Jillian Conforti, Cardinal Newman, So., Midfielder: Scored 31 goals; added seven assists, 27 draw controls and 37 ground balls for Crusaders.

Riley Johnston, Benjamin, So., Midfielder: Averaged 3.1 points per game for Bucs; scored 24 goals and added seven assists

Brianna McCaffrey, Pope John Paul, Jr., Midfielder: Scored 48 goals, and added 30 assists and 50 caused turnovers for Eagles this season.

Hayley Ciklin, Benjamin, Sr., Attack: Led Bucs in goals (27), assists (22) and points. Had 29 draw controls.

Maria Dattolo, Benjamin, Jr., Midfielder: Scored 15 goals and added 11 assists, 20 ground balls and six draw controls

Hannah Zweibel, St. Andrew’s, Sr. Defender: Had 24 caused turnovers and 21 ground balls for Scots.

Natalie Kelly, Wellington, Sr. Midfielder: Wolverines captain had 24 goals, 41 ground balls and 45 draw controls.

Phoebe Stirm, Oxbridge, So. Midfielder: Recorded 31 goals, nine ground balls and 14 draw controls for Thunderwolves.

Liza Diamond, Spanish River, So., Goalie: Recorded 174 saves for Sharks this season.

Hannah Warrnier, Cardinal Newman, Sr., Attack: Had 29 goals, 34 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.

Erin Gildea, Pope John Paul, Sr., Midfielder: Finished the season with 105 draw controls, 48 goals and 58 assists for Eagles.


Sarah Burlingame, Benjamin: Led Bucs to a district championship this season and a berth in the third round of the state playoffs.


Benjamin: Reagan Jahn, Autumn Ryan; Cardinal Newman: Elizabeth Acosta, Mickie Agnello; John I. Leonard: Paula Grisales, Amanda Colas; Oxbridge Academy: Sarah Dunkel, Madi McDole; Pope John Paul: Madison Levine, Emily Kowalik; Spanish River: Kyla Rakoczy, Molly Kaplan; St. Andrew’s: Kendall Greenberg, Adrian Rius; Wellington: Kathleen Gerrits, Gabriella Klyotskin.


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