Prep Athlete of the Week: Sam Elling

      EUGENE, Ore. - Sam Elling anchors a stingy South Eugene soccer defense that has only allowed 9 goals this season.

      "He's a captain, he's a leader, he's probably one of the most athletic players on our team," coach Jurgen Ruckaberle said. "He has been stellar in defense, is a great student, so it's like every coach's dream to have a player like that."

      Elling enjoys hearing the crowd get into a game.

      "The reward does come when I make a good player and the crowd goes crazy, so that's a reward itself," he said.

      Elling got rewarded Monday night when he found the back of the net just 3 minutes into the Emerald Derby.

      "That was really big," he said. "That was probably my first goal in like three years so that was big. And I've been talking all season about getting a goal for my last year and especially during an important game like that was great."

      Elling's rise to the captaincy of the Axemen began as a sophomore on the varsity squad, and his experience makes him almost like a second coach on the field.

      "He has that experience, he knows what it means to get the guys fired up and get them ready," his coach said. "That's really a dimension as a coach you're not out there, you're just on the sideline, and he brings that to our team."

      His leadership role is something Elling doesn't take for granted.

      "It means a lot. I like how the teammates voted for me and I'm glad that they think I'm worthy of wearing the captain band and I hope to lead them to hopefully a championship," he said.

      Watch KMTR NewsSource 16 Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and 11 for Prep Athlete of the Week.