Kalijah Terilli sat in the auxiliary gym at South Shore HS after the Fieldston girls basketball team lost a hard-fought game against PSAL Class A power Medgar Evers. The Eagles sophomore forward was not dressed in blue and orange, but wearing a red Manhattan Soccer Club sweatshirt with her name in white down its arm.
Terilli wasn’t even supposed to be at Fieldston’s game at the South Shore Invitational last week, but the winter storm caused her club soccer tournament to be canceled at 7 a.m. that morning. The sophomore drove back home from Irvington, N.Y., and then headed to Brooklyn for the 2:30 p.m. tip.
“Surprisingly she is around more than some other girls and she has a better excuse not to come,” Fieldston senior guard Jacqueline Schoninger said. “Her commitment gives us all a commitment to live up to. I couldn’t even imagine.”
Balancing soccer and basketball is nothing new for the 6-foot Terilli, who has missed just a game and a half this season. She is the Eagles’ star goalkeeper and was a New York Post All-City first team selection. The ultra-athletic Terilli led Fieldston to its first-ever Ivy League title in 2009 and was selected to the New York State Olympic Development team.
“She was never timid or anything,” Fieldston soccer coach Chelsea Volpe said. “She was never one to be scared of the ball. … I can definitely see her playing Division I soccer.”
That’s why Terilli is dedicated to the sport and has aspirations to play at the next level. She started playing between the posts when she was in middle school and has her own goalie coach. Two days a week she goes from basketball practice that ends at 7 p.m. to soccer club practice until 9 p.m. She also manages both practices on Saturday and also has soccer on Sundays. She will stay after basketball practices when she can. Terilli said the schedule was tough to handle as a freshman, but she is doing better this year.
“If you want to play at a high level you need to choose one,” Terilli said. “I am already at a higher level with soccer.”
She only started playing organized basketball last season at Fieldston, which won its first-ever Ivy League crown. Coaches Rock Rosa and Randy Slaughter, who fully support Terilli’s soccer aspirations, saw her play in middle school. When Slaughter first told Rosa about her he described her as the “tall girl who plays soccer.”
“She was just towering over girls, flying all over the place,” Slaughter said.
Something she still does.
Terilli is a bundle of energy on the court for the Eagles (5-3). She is the team’s top post defender and inside scorer. She held her own against Medgar Evers’ athletic frontcourt of girls 6-foot or taller, including 6-foot-5 center Verdine Warner. Rosa gave Terilli high praise by comparing her to Fieldston’s do-it-all forward Chyna Strickland, who graduated last year season.
“She is the glue to our defense,” Rosa said. “She changes shots. She rebounds well. She hits the floor. She blocks shots. She just does everything for us.”
“She has always liked being a goalie,” Volpe said. “She is a good field player too, but I don’t like to tell her that because I need her in goal.”