Otter and Liverpool through to British final
22 February 2014
London Otter and Liverpool Lizards will meet in the final of the British Gas Water Polo Championships after semi final matches that went down to the wire.
Otter opened the scoring in the first of the semi-finals after Alex Higlett converted a penalty inside 20 seconds. Coventry responded with goals from Rhianne Oscroft and Amy Middlemast to finish the first quarter 2-2.
Both teams took advantage of man-up’s, but a powerful shot by Victoria Bowen meant Otter finished the first half a goal down (4-3). Ex-GBR International Vicki Hawkins pulled the score back to 5-4 in the third quarter but a second penalty for Otter gave them the edge at 6-4. Coventry responded but Otter finished the quarter 8-7 (2-2).
With nothing between the two teams the match was always going to go down to the last quarter. Two good saves in quick succession from Coventry keeper Charlotte Noble helped to keep the match tied at 8-8.
Hawkins’ goal with a minute to spare should have given Coventry the win but Sarah Tollefson's goal brought the score to bring back to 9-9. Higlett took advantage of an Otter man-up and scored with just one second left on the clock to ensure the London team’s place in the final with a 10-9 (2-2, 2-1, 4-4, 2-2) win.
Higlett said: “All of our games against Coventry this year have been really tight so we knew it was going to be a hard game.
“The last three minutes were manic but having a win in the Super 5s definitely gave us confidence that we can come out on top in these big games.”
The second semi final was just as tight as Liverpool looked to stop Manchester’s dominance at the last six British Championships.
Liverpool started strongly with two goals from GBR’s Fiona McCann. Manchester responded with a goal from GBR team mate Ella Chadderton. Both teams had chances but Liverpool edged ahead finishing the first quarter 3-2.
Spurred on by a vocal local crowd, Manchester took the lead going into half time with goals from Polly Egan, Siobhan Hoy and a further two goals from Chadderton.
Liverpool’s man-up advantage was blocked but two strong goals from Hayley Price and Sophie Gilbert brought the match back to 7-7.
Despite a number of attempts Manchester was unable to equalize after Gilbert took the visitors ahead in the first minute, setting Liverpool up for a final day match against London Otter with a 8-7 (3-2, 3-4, 1-1, 1-0) victory.
Commenting on the win McCann said: “Every time we play Manchester it’s close and today was no exception. I’m sure tomorrow’s final will be just as good and we’re really looking forward to taking on London Otter.”
The final takes place at 11am on Sunday. Tickets are available to purchase on the door at Manchester Aquatics Centre. For more information click here.
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