CSWPC Girls in National Age Group Championships Excitement
U17’s NAGS –
Cheltenham’s U17’s Girls NAG’s team road to the final continued on March 23rd & 24th at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre. The 8 qualifying teams were put in 2 groups of 4 with the top 2 teams going through to the final. Cheltenham were drawn in Group A with Liverpool, Newton Abbott & Watford. First up, in the hottest pool I’ve ever been to, were Liverpool. Facing full games (4x8mins, stopping clock) this was going to be a challenge for Cheltenham’s 10 players especially faced with a full team and fresh legs on tap. CSWPC certainly weren’t on form, Liverpool took an early lead and dominated most of the match. Final score 11-5 to Liverpool. After a long break Cheltenham returned to face Newton Abbott. In the dim evening glow of the pool some of the most amazing polo emerged. All of the Cheltenham players put 110% into defending and attacking the 7 Newton Abbott players. At half time Cheltenham were in the lead, but we have been there before, no one was taking any chances and relaxing. CSPWC’s lead continued to grow ending in a dominant 21-14 win. The last match was against Watford on the following day. With all to play for the Cheltenham girls could not rest on their laurels. Not necessarily the most elegant of matches again Cheltenham proved their strength in attack and defense winning 16-7. Finishing second in the table beneath Liverpool. CSWPC’s U17’s team place in the final was secured!
The finals were held at Liverpool Aquatics Centre 13th & 14th April. CSWPC were the first match of the weekend facing the giants Sheffield. Coach Rich Middleton had spent a lot of time building the confidence of the girls up. A win here would be historic and would only happen if the girls went out full power and working as a team. CSWPC tattoos and Cheltenham couloured war paint were in order, along with screaming in the local Macdonald’s! It seemed to work with powerful attacks and defense by CSWPC the first quarter ended 2-1 to Cheltenham. In the second quarter Sheffield wrestled back control finishing it 6-4 to Sheffield. Not to be deterred CSWPC continued to push and claw their way back finishing the 3rd period just 3 goals down. The final period saw Sheffield really dominate the tired Cheltenham team. The final score 18-10 to Sheffield. Going through to the bronze medal match CSWPC will face Otter.
U19’s NAGS –
Due to so much congestion in the Water Polo Calendar the U19 girls just had one round before the finals. This was held at Haberdashers School, Watford over the weekend of 30th & 31st of March. CSWPC’s young team faced a tough day on Saturday with 3 important matches. First up was City of Manchester. A nail biting contest of brute strength CSWPC had lots of drives to goal but not the power to finish them off. Luckily some excellent goal keeping kept the return shots from Manchester at bay. Final score an exciting 5-5 draw. Next up were City of Liverpool. The team were hopeful for another good run but they could just not secure down the shear power of Liverpool’s more experienced players. There were times when Cheltenham looked like they were going to even the game out but the final score was 5-11 to Liverpool. The last match of the day was Watford. With some amazing team play for the girls they soon dominated the game ending in a 11-3 win to CSWPC. A late night followed by an early morning the girls were the first match on Mothering Sunday against the emerging new strong team Welsh Wanderers. Defensively CSWPC blocked an awful lot of the attacks on goal as did their Welsh counterparts in return. In fact the first period was just attack followed by counter for the full 5 minutes. In the second half Cheltenham were tiring and cracks started to appear. The final score 6 – 1 to Welsh Wanderers. Finishing 4th in the table CSWPC Secured their place in U19’s Plate Finals on Saturday 13th April.
The U19’s Plate final saw 7 teams fighting it out to secure a place in the final. The 7 teams were split into 2 groups, the top of each group would face each other in the final later that evening. CSWPC were in group C with Tyldesley, Watford & Caledonia. The first game was against Tyldesley who had been identified as potentially the ones to beat. Having already beaten Watford in the qualifiers they should prove to be no problem and Tyldesley had beaten Caledonia convincingly in their qualifiers. So a win against Tyldesley would mean CSWPC should make it to the final. As there were so many games to play the U19’s were only given 2x7mins for their matches. The game was pretty much even stevens throughout. Tyldesley pulled ahead at one point but a excellent penalty by Amy Berry and a good drive by Priya Kennedy meant CSWPC were ahead again, score 5-4. With just over 4 seconds to go in the match Cheltenham hopefully had this in the bag. Time for a full press and the goalkeeper to wait for the shot. Suddenly there was a loud bang and glass showered down from one of the lights. As the pool was evacuated it soon became apparent that the weekend would have to be cancelled and rearranged, upsettingly as there was only 1 goal in it we will have to face a rematch for 4.2 seconds once Swim England has sorted another convenient weekend to hold this all again!
A dramatic ending on all accounts at the NAGS Finals 2019. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for the rearranged weekend.