Tuesday 30th April 2019 saw the U13 Girls Water Polo team take part in the Championship National Final held at Northampton School for Boys.
This is the 3rd year in a row our U13 girls teams have reached the national final and this particular group of players have had a fantastic journey getting there. The girls were unbeaten in our preliminary rounds of the competition back in February and in the semi-finals in March and we managed to carry that form and confidence into the finals.
SBSJ 5 - 0 Notting Hill & Ealing High School
Player of the Match - Amelia Brooksbank
SBSJ 3 - 2 Bedford Modern School
Player of the Match - Holly Smith
Semi Final Play-off
SBSJ 3 – 3 Kings High School, Warwick
SBSJ won the penalty shootout 1 - 0
Player of the Match - Lilly Pryce
SBSJ 3 - 4 Bolton School
Player of the Match - Sienna Harrop
The SBSJ U13 Girls Water Polo team are ranked the 2nd best team in the country for 2018/2019
Player of the Tournament - Holly Smith
1st - Bolton School
2nd - St Bede's and St Joseph's Catholic College
3rd - Bedford Modern School
4th - Kings High School, Warwick
5th - Alleyn's School
6th - Notting Hill & Ealing High School
As you can see from the results above, the girls played a fantastic tournament on the day. The improvements the girls have made as individuals and as a team have been great to see throughout the year and I couldn't be prouder as their coach. It's a brilliant achievement to reach the final in the first place. To then reach the Grand Final for the first time ever is an even bigger one and it could have quite easily gone either way! However being ranked the 2nd best team in the country is something we are all really proud of and is the highest we have ever finish in the English Schools Championships.
All the girls were a huge credit to the school from start to finish and we had plenty of compliments, from the hotel staff to spectators at the tournament itself. Their enthusiasm, commitment and desire is second to none. Which was reinforced during the Easter holidays when all the girls came in to prepare for the finals. It was really pleasing to see the things we worked on at our training camp come to fruition. Many of the coaches came up to me during the tournament to congratulate the team on how we were playing, as we were arguably playing the best Water Polo out of all 6 teams.
As I say the performances were of the highest standard and I can confidently say the best I've seen from any of our girls teams across all the age groups. Scoring 14 goals in a National Final is no easy feat and credit to the players for the way they attacked all 4 teams and showed a good understanding of how we want to play. Every single player pressed really well all over the pool to try and steal the ball earlier and if they couldn't they made sure they tracked their markers, so we didn't give away cheap goals! Most of our goals came from making good steals/blocks and the way we counter attacked was brilliant to see. Gabrielle Parker, Amber Parrington, Jessica Fullerton, Bhumi Mistry and Emily Burton occupied the wings really well during the 4 games and got themselves into really good positions, which was key for all our counter attacks. Emily managed to score 2 goals driving in off the wing and Gabrielle and Amber were so close to scoring themselves. Bhumi recorded an assist which came from a steal high up the pool. Jess sacrificed more of her attacking play to be a more defensive winger and in one game completely marked the opposition’s best player out of the game. Severn Annakin played in the centre forward position for every single game and bullied pretty much every defender she came up against. Severn scored 1 and assisted 3 in open play but it was her converted penalty in the shootout that stood out for me as she was naturally very nervous and took some convincing to take the penalty. No danger. Equally in defence we were solid in all 4 games which gave us that platform to attack. Ava Chambers and Julia Szadkowska were rocks in the heart of defence, often up against players twice their size. Their understanding of the role meant they could read the situations to help steal the ball early, making the size difference irrelevant. Lilly Pryce and Amelia Brooksbank, who are key when we are in transition, pressed really well to win the ball back and made some really good drives forward. Amelia probably made more steals than any other player in the whole tournament and also managed to score 4 goals overall. Lilly also got herself on the score sheet but it was her short stint in goal for the penalty shootout that really stood out. Making two fantastic saves to send us through to the Grand Final. I now come onto our most influential player in Sienna Harrop who has been key in all our games this year and more so at the finals itself. Once again she came up with the goods, scoring some sensational goals. One of the goals is one of the best I've ever seen from an U13 player. Sienna showed great intelligence throughout the tournament and scored 7 goals overall to bring her total to 41 goals for the U13 girls team. It's probably double that if you include all the other teams she played for this year. Lastly we finish with our 'player of the tournament' in Holly Smith. Unfortunately in this particular team we do not have a 'set' goal keeper, but Holly made the sacrifice for the good of the team and the performances she put in are one of the main reasons we got all the way to the Grand Final. Holly made some really good saves in all 4 matches, but the key thing was how calm she was on the ball, which helped her achieve a 100% completed pass rate.
A big thank you to staff and parents for all the support shown throughout the year. A huge thank you to Mrs Foster, who is our girls’ team manager and is key for when we go away for finals. In particularly this year!
Well done to all the girls. You were brilliant on the day and will always be champions in my eyes!
Coach Matthew Wright
U13 Girls Water Polo team - 2nd best team in the country!
Lilly Pryce (C)
On behalf of the school I would also like to thank Mr Wright for his dedication and commitment to coaching, not only the U13 Girls team, but all our fantastic water polo teams.“
Mr Bentley Head Teacher