It’s fair to say that the weekend provided plenty of nerve-wracking water polo for the supporters who were in full voice throughout. We might have only gone home with 7th place this year but the 2009 and 2010 lads gained invaluable experience for next year and the 2008s can hold their heads high, showing tremendous determination to come from behind time after time!
Pictured from left to right: Coach Steve Kinloch, Harry Butler (08), Arthur Gething (08), Yaroslav Shemanov (09), Ben Whieldon (08), Jude Eagling (10), Charlie Chadwick (08), Nate Giles (08), Carter McMillan (10), Andrew Stephenson (10), Jonathon Gordon (09), Jack Chadwick (08), Miles Kinloch (08) and Joseph Roxburgh (09).
Our MVP of the tournament went to Joseph Roxburgh who did everything he was asked of and plenty more besides. He had a magnificent tournament, stealing and intercepting balls he had no right getting close to and showing up many more experienced players from across the country.
Our first match was against London. It was clear that after going 3 goals down in the first half, the boys would have to dig deep to salvage a result. They did just that and managed to claw back to 6:6 half way through the second half. As strong end to the half meant a hard earned win with a final score of 10:7.
Next up, Scotland. An evenly matched first half finished 3:4 to Scotland. The second half continued to be extremely competitive at 5:5 with 4 minutes to go, but with a couple of lapses of concentration in defense Scotland managed to get two goals in two minutes and hold on for the win 5:7.
The East Midlands match proved to be great showcase the depth of the talent in the team with great performances and goals from Jude, Carter, Yaro, Nate and Charlie and with Arthur always in control in goal meant a comfortable 10:3 win for the North West.
With Scotland drawing 6:6 with London, our final group match against the West Midlands would be a nail-biter – with us needing a win to top the group and a place in the semi-finals. The first half was incredibly evenly matched ending 0:0. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, a late penalty and subsequent long range shot left us 0:2 down, 3rd in the group and into the play-offs on the Sunday.
Sunday started as Saturday left off, with what proved to be yet another closely contested match, this time against the East. The first quarter ended 0:0, the second 2:2. But, the East fought hard to pull away with a 2:5 lead at the end of the third. It would need something special to come from behind yet again, but with goals from Andrew, Jonathon and Ben and Jack making some great saves it was all-square at 5:5 with 3 minutes remaining! Somehow the East managed to squeeze one past Jack with less than 2 minutes left to play, but we weren’t finished yet, Miles breaking free to draw level yet again. In a last ditch effort we called a time-out and threw everything we hand in the remaining 40 seconds but with Miles hitting the crossbar, it would be down to penalties. Heartbreakingly, despite goals from Ben, Harry and Miles and a save from Jack we just missed out on the play-off for a bronze medal by the narrowest of margins.
Not unsurprisingly, the final play-off proved to be nail-bitingly close. Two from Ben in the first quarter kept us in contention at the end of Q1 with the South West ahead at 2:4. It was the turn of Joseph and Jonathon to do the same in Q2 but going into Q3 4:7 down it was going to be an uphill task to claw this one back. But, with two of our most experienced players linking up beautifully, 2 goals from Harry followed by 4 in a row from Miles and we were finally ahead for once at 10:9 going into the final quarter. The SW drew level early in the final quarter but Harry and then Miles scored to regain the lead with Andrew securing the result with a 13:12 win.
Thanks to Coach Steve and Team managers Catherine and Maria for supporting the boys throughout the weekend and the build-up and to Joanne, Mike and Catie for hosting a wonderful tournament and to all the volunteer referees and officials.
Click here to see all the results.