Thursday 7th March 2019 saw the U18 boys Water Polo team take part in the English Schools National Plate Final held at Northampton School for Boys. The team have worked hard all year to reach the final and even more so on the day. Going into the tournament we knew there were a few factors going against us, nothing more so than our team having an average age of just 15! However we were still confident we could get some positive results and challenge all the teams taking part.
In the end we finished 3rd, meaning the team all received a bronze medal, which is also the third best finish from any of our U18 teams here at SBSJ, something we can all be proud of! We were really close to making the grand final but a slow start in our play-off game against Torquay GS meant it was too little too late for when we finally did try to mount a comeback. What made our 3rd place finish even more of a feat was the fact that our vice-captain, Theo Cokewright was injured in the first minute of our first game against London Oratory and was ruled out for the whole tournament.
Our play at times was fantastic to watch and we can be happy with the performances throughout the tournament. Out of the pool, I received plenty of positive comments from the hotel staff, members of public and in particular from the bus driver we had with us. To which he said "This is the best group of lads I've driven in all the years I've been doing this job." A most befitting comment to end what was a great experience.
We still have the Yorkshire Schools Championships to look forward to and with the team being so young we can only get stronger for next years competitions.
Well done to all involved! Coach Mr M Wright
U18 Boys Water Polo team
Tom Cokewright - Captain and Player of the Tournament
1st - London Oratory
2nd - Torquay Grammar School
3rd - St Bede's and St Joseph's Catholic College
4th - King Edwards
5th - Queen Elizabeth
6th - Charterhouse
London Oratory 6 - 2 SBSJ
Having watched LO already play we knew this was going to be a tough game and we had to be at our best to come away with anything. LO started the stronger getting an early goal. The early goal wasn't the only setback, as not long after Theo Cokewright had to get out the pool injured and was ruled out of the rest of tournament. Naturally this disrupted our initial game plan and LO capitalised on that to get another couple of goals. Tom Doyle who started in goal, managed to keep the score line down with a couple of decent saves and with not long left in the first half he played a big ball down the left wing to Harvey Weston-Beyer, who managed to pull one back to 3-1.
At half time we spoke how we needed to try and be braver going forward. Losing Theo seemed to hold us back in the first half and I asked for more drives forward to support Sam Chewins, who was isolated a lot of the times. The break is just what we needed as seemed to dominate in the early stages, however the opposition goalkeeper managed to keep two good efforts from Darwin King, one which led to a counter attack and we couldn't cope with the speed of the opposition and they went 4-1 up. Sam also came close with a 5m shot with cannoned off the crossbar and once again we found ourselves another goal down. With the game out of reach we decided to give some of our senior players a rest with the next game in mind. The boys did well and Jastin Barrientos calmly finished off our man-up which was won by Sam. Shortly after LO scored again. The final score ended 6-2 to LO.
Charterhouse 3 - 6 SBSJ
Even though we had suffered a defeat in the first match we were confident of getting a win, which we needed to go through to the playoffs. Harvey and Darwin got an early goal each. Charterhouse were determined to get back into the game and Adam Zdolyny reacted well to keep them at bay but they eventually found the back of the net. It was then captain Tom Cokewright who finished off a man-up which was once again gained through Sam's smart play. The opposition did manage to get a goal just before half time, bringing the score to 3-2 to SBSJ.
At half time everyone knew we had the beating of Charterhouse if we pressed quicker in defence and continued to attack in the same way. An early goal from Jastin calmed the nerves and we went from strength to strength. The opposition to their credit didn't give in and it took some strong, smart defending from Stefan Giangregorio to keep their main player quiet. Tom Doyle, who was now in goal, had to be on top form as Charterhouse were shooting from all angles now, desperate to get back into the game. Tom D managed to collect one of their shots which led to a brilliant counter attack with Sam, Jastin, Harvey and Darwin breaking fast and moved the ball really well and was neatly finished off by Darwin. With the score line 5-1 to SBSJ it meant we could make some changes and give our younger players in Jake Benson, Dane Simora and Miguel Arevalo some game time. Naturally it disrupted the team for a short period and the opposition capitalised scoring what was only another consolation goal. With not long remaining we went for one last attack that all 3 youngsters were all involved and manage to move the ball forward and find Sam, who fired the ball in the back of the net. The score finished 6-2 to SBSJ.
SBSJ 3 - 4 Torquay GS
In my opinion, this was the game of the tournament. This was to determine who would make the grand final and with confidence high from our previous victory, we felt we could get a positive result. Unfortunately it was TGS who started the stronger and before we knew it we were 1-0 down. It was our turn to attack and we moved the ball well, starting with Stefan and Tom C at the back and we managed to get into a dangerous position and the ball was played to Darwin who made a brilliant drive and gained a man-up, however we failed to score from it and TGS were quicker to counter than ourselves and before we knew it we were 2-0 down. TGS for a short period kept coming at us but Tom D kept the scoreline down. Just moments before half time we gained another man-up but this time we moved the ball a lot quicker and Tom C found himself in plenty of space and calmly walked the ball in and fired the ball into the top corner making sure the keeper had no chance. The half time score was 2-1 to TGS.
We spoke at half time that we had to take our chances if we wanted to progress. That's exactly what happened just moments into the second half. The ball was played out from Tom D in goal to Stefan, who saw Tom C make a drive down the left wing. Harvey was next to receive the ball who turned his man and played it into centre forward Sam who had a number of players ready to drop. Seeing the oncoming players he popped the ball out to the right to Jastin who spun his man and won a foul. Time was ticking and Darwin, seeing the shot clock running down, drove towards Jastin screaming for the ball in the process. Now, with ball in front of goal, there was only one winner and the score was now 2-2.
It was all SBSJ and Tom C was so close to getting us in front with his effort just bouncing off the water onto the crossbar. The opposition regained possession and broke quickly and unfortunately we conceded a penalty. Tom D went the right way to his credit but just couldn't get enough on it to keep the ball out. 3-2 to TGS. Harvey was next to test the keeper and again we hit the bar and once again the Torquay broke on the counter and we just couldn't seem to get back quick enough and the score was now 4-2 to TGS. With one minute remaining the lads didn't give in and from the restart the ball was played back to Tom C who waited for the right moment to play the ball to Darwin who planted himself on the left wing about 8m out and drew the foul from the opponent and tried and audacious lob shot to the far corner. As the ball was in the air I could hear the other teams in the spectators area shouting 'no way' and the ball dipped at the crucial moment into the top corner and the score was now 4-3 to TGS. There was only 20 seconds remaining, which wasn't enough to regain possession and try get the draw.
A well fought game from both sides and on another day it would have been ourselves progressing to the grand final. However we took pride in our performance and was determined to finish at least 3rd so we could come away with a medal.
King Edwards 2 - 7 SBSJ
With already playing King Edwards in the semi final back in February we were confident of coming away with a win. Adam Zdolyny who was in goal distributed the ball really well throughout the match. Harvey opened up the scoring, quickly followed by Tom C who also made a drive in from the left. With the opposition sensing the danger who down that side it left more space on the right and this time it was Jastin to score our 3rd. KES did manage to score just before half time.
With the score now 3-1, we spoke at half time that the game was far from over. We knew exploiting the wings was the way to see the game out. Darwin and Stefan made sure we were always protected at the back which gave our forward line the freedom to push on. It was Harvey to score our 4th which was from about the halfway line. Seeing the keeper off his line and with scoring a similar goal last year in the Championship Semi Final he obviously fancied his chances. With confidence high and with Tom C, Darwin and Stefan not letting anything past them in defence, we caught them on the break with the ball going out to Jastin on the right. Sam who had been occupying their centre back all game got the ball fed into him but selflessly played the ball to the oncoming Harvey from the left who was now one on one with the keeper to complete his hat-trick.
The scoreline was 5-1 and confident we would see the game it meant we could make some changes. Jake, Dane and Miguel all raring to go now made up our forward line. Keen to impress they pressed really well and we won the back immediately and broke. There was some good build up play and they managed to find Jastin who also joined in on the attack and calmly finished the move off to bring the score to 6-1. KES to their credit kept coming at us and did manage to get was only a consolation goal. With only minute left on the clock Jake, Dane and Miguel were quick to push on again. The ball was played forward by Sam into the path of Jake who was on the right. Miguel had taken up the centre forward position and Dane and Jastin was driving in from the right. Jake played the ball across to Jastin who drew the defender close to free up Dane who faked one way giving the keeper no chance. A brilliant move to finish off the game. The score finished 7-2.