Newport Harbor High senior water polo player Carly Christian is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / January 3, 2013)

Christian said the players don't really have to worry about outside expectations. Last year, they didn't end up mattering.

"We have confidence in our team, and 'Coach B' has confidence in us," she said. "That's all we really need. I wouldn't be here today without Coach B or [assistant coach Brian] Melstrom, and what they have done with this program and with us. I wouldn't be going to UC Santa Barbara if it wasn't for them. Everything that I know about water polo is because of them, too, and I couldn't be more grateful."

But college is still down the road. Right now, Christian is leading her team as it looks to defend its CIF hardware.

"To do it again our senior year, I don't even know how I'd feel," she said. "I still think about that game every single day. I literally think about it every single day. Just the feeling of coming back and winning, I can't even describe it.

"If we won it again," she added with a big smile, "I would be the happiest person in the world."

Carly Christian

Born: July 16, 1995

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-5

Sport: Water polo

Coach: Bill Barnett

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite movie: "The Hangover"

Favorite athletic moment: Helping Newport Harbor win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title last year.

Week in review: Christian scored seven goals in the four-game Holiday Cup tournament Dec. 28-29. She helped Newport Harbor place third.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo