SBSJ U18s 10 v 9 St Bede’s Old Boys
Friday 21st September 2018 saw the St Bede's and St Joseph's Catholic College U18 Boys Water Polo team take on the St Bede's Catholic Grammar School 'Old Boys'. The match took place late in the evening at Tong High School. The build up to match was highly anticipated from both teams, as you can imagine neither team wanted to lose.
The SBSJ team have been working hard all preseason, with most of the players coming in during the six week holidays to be ready for opening game. We knew it was going to be tough match against some very talented and experienced players that have left over the last few years, with the 'Old Boys' boasting players such Danny Colehan, Dominic Walker and Jack Sheehan all of which had trials with Great Britain and were part of the team that won the U18 Yorkshire Championship last year. Adding to their ranks was Matthew McLoughlin who has played a bit of Water Polo whilst at Oxford University. Cameron Fairbairn, Lewis Lunn, Simon McDermott, Jordan Towers, Luke Habergham were also part of the team, all who have played in Plate National Finals and Championship Semi Finals representing school. Bartek Cwikla and Patryk Korczack also made the squad who were part of the cohort from Yorkshire Martyrs but attended sixth form when YMCC closed down. Finally the Captain and Great Britain trainee Rokas Tautavicius who is one of the main reasons why Water Polo is so big now here at SBSJ, he was also part of the cohort that came from YMCC. When he came over to St Bede's C.G.S. in year 10, he made sure all the players carried on with Water Polo and helped recruit some new players which was difficult as Water Polo was brand new to St Bede's. However, leading by example he inspired his team mates and the younger year groups that followed.
The 'Old Boys' thought their experience and size difference would ensure a comfortable victory however it was the SBSJ team that took the lead with a well worked goal finished off by Thomas Cokewright. This gave the 'Old Boys' the kick they needed and even though the SBSJ team were attacking well, the opposition used their experience to counter-attack fast each time often leaving the defence and goal keeper outnumbered. Thomas Doyle managed to pull off some good saves and kept the score line down and going into the final moments of the quarter the SBSJ team were awarded a penalty which Tom C. converted.
The score was 4 - 2 to the 'Old Boys' and we spoke how we just had to keep the score line tight, as we were confident the longer the game went on our fitness would play a key part in the outcome of the match. This proved to be the case in the second quarter as the 'Old Boys' weren't as fast to counter-attack as well as strong and resilient defending from Darwin King, Theo Cokewright and Harvey Weston-Beyer. Adam Zdolyny was in goal for the second and pulled off some good saves but the opposition still managed to get a goal. However it was the SBSJ team who won the quarter with a goal from Darwin and another from Tom C. and going into half time the score was now 5 - 4 to the 'Old Boys'.
We knew going into the third this was going to be the toughest quarter of them all. We were attacking the shallow end which is always tough and you could sense the frustration and determination to kill the game off from the 'Old Boys'. Our defence was solid to begin with and Konstantinos Odiomume and Stefan Giangregorio helped freshen things up but a bit of inexperience throughout the whole team led to the 'Old Boys' adding a couple to their tally as we overcommitted in attack. We did manage to get a couple ourselves through Jastin Barrientos and Tom C. however we made the same mistake of having too many push forward and we lost the ball too easily in the middle and the 'Old Boys' broke. Tom D. managed to pull off a triple save however with not enough players back the opposition put the ball in the back of the net and score going into the last quarter was 8 - 6 to the 'Old Boys'.
The team talk was fairly easy. 'Dig deep and put everything you have into this last quarter'. We knew the opposition were tired and now we were attacking the deep which was to our advantage and it was our centre forward in Sam Chewins and right winger in Jastin Barrientos who really turned the game for us. Sam had the unfortunate task of battling with their centre backs all game who they kept rotating. However all of them were tired, which led to a lot of major fouls and the SBSJ were clinical in their passing and it was Jastin who finished off the moves and scored 3 goals. In between that time the opposition had pulled one back and the score was now 9 - 9.
With less than a minute left on the clock the SBSJ defence gave a penalty away. With so little time to go we pushed half the team up into the opposition half in anticipation of a miss or save. All the 'Old Boys' had to do was convert the penalty and victory would have been theirs. The whistle went and shot sailed over the bar! We then launched ball high up the pool and with a few quick passes to move the keeper side to side left a gap which Tom C. exploited with a powerful finish. The final whistle went to and the entire team celebrated and rightly so as the 'Old Boys' were confident they would win comfortably.
Both teams came together at the end to show the respect for each other after what was a fiercely fought game of Water Polo.
Thank you to all the spectators who came and supported both sets of players.
Well done to both teams and in particular our young U18 SBSJ team. It was a true team performance with both Adam and Tom D. making key saves in the game. Darwin, Harvey and joint-captain Theo were at the heart of the defence and helped in the build up to our attacks. Stefan and Ninos played well in defence in the spells that they were in the pool. Finally Sam and Jastin really came alive in the third and fourth quarters to help turn the game around. Finally joint-captain Tom C. showed his class in attack throughout the match and deservedly picked up the player of the match award.
It is going to be a very tough season for us as we will be one of the youngest U18 teams this year in the ESSA Championships. However, Friday night proved that not only do we possess the talent but more importantly, we have the mental strength to keep going and never give in!
Report by Coach Matthew Wright