Our under 13's 'mixed team' travelled to the Stretford Leisure Centre to take part in the English Schools Water Polo Championship Semi Final between ourselves, Manchester Grammar School and Ripley St Thomas.
Unfortunately Ripley pulled out of the competition on the day meaning it was a match between us and Manchester GS. The winner progressing through to the English Schools Final.
MGS proved to be just too powerful in the match and seemed to be more experience in particular in front of goal. We actually opened the scoring, which I think shocked everyone and in the first half it was 1 - 1 for about 5 minutes. We created plenty of chances but weren't clinical enough in front of gaol which led to MGS countering and scoring. The first half finished5 - 1.
The second half began and we were always playing catch up but credit to the team, they continued to try and play the right way and we had a few shots at goal but it just didn't seem to be our day. MGS finished 11 - 1 winners.
Due to Ripley St Thomas dropping out. It meant we had extra time in the pool so we played another match.
I told the team to play exactly how they did in the first but to be more ruthless in front of goal.
MGS took the lead and I think the players thought they were in for another heavy defeat. But we took the centre ball and some good composed passing starting from captain Sara Steinberg 8D who linked up well with Emily Taylor 8B and Matthew Sowden 8I to get the ball forward down the left wing, with the final ball played perfectly to Jastin Barrientos 8I who finished the move. The same happened again a minute later down the right with Niamh Dolan-Baines 8E and Amelia Fullerton 8C, which again was finished off by Jastin meaning we were winning 2 - 1.
MGS came back and scored a couple to get back in front. It really was end to end at this point with both teams creating plenty of chances, which I couldn't have been happier with because this is how the game should be played. It was 5 - 2 to MGS and they were on the attack again, with Lydia King 8H and Sara putting a real shift in at the back MGS resorted to a long shot which goal keeper Alexandra Rowe 7F got across well to save and it was our turn to counter and within 3 passes we were in possession in front of the opposition goal, Jastin who was gunning for his hat-trick shot but the keeper saved for the corner. Jastin and Matthew then played a quick one - two giving the defence no time to organise and Jastin finally scored his 3rd goal of the game.
The score was 5 - 3 to MGS but we were really pleased with our improved performance. The second half began and you could now tell the team were more confident in their approach. Amelia, Lydia, Naimh and Jastin linked up really well up front throughout the whole of the second half with Jastin adding 2 more goals to his tally and Amelia getting on the score sheet. MGS only scored 1 goal in the second half with Sara organising the defence well with Emily and Matthew, coupled with some good saves from Abigail Rowe 7G and Alexandra Rowe who shared the goal keeping duties.
The final score ended 6 - 6 which was a massive improvement from the first game.
Although you could argue that MGS may have took the foot off the gas, I also feel it was down to our improved performance up front and an increase in confidence that got us a draw in the end. Something the team should be proud of!
Lastly I'd like to add that the team arrived back to school an hour earlier than expected and instead of going home early at 5pm as they could have done. They all decided they wanted to get in the pool at school and train for an extra hour! Which I couldn't say no to. This shows the level of commitment from this group of players, something I am immensely proud of.
Report by Mr M Wright