The countdown to the 2015 ASA National Age Group Water Polo Championships Finals weekend (25 – 26 April) is on after the draw for the semi finals was revealed this week.
There is no love lost between North West rivals City of Manchester and City of Liverpool and the two will face off in the first of the Girls’ U19 semi finals on Saturday.
The two teams are the only ones to have lifted the title since its inception in 2004 and will play out a repeat of last year’s final in which City of Liverpool claimed their fourth victory with a 10-9 win.
There was little to choose between the two sides when they met in the qualification stage of this year’s tournament, with Manchester overturning a four-goal deficit at half-time to draw 12-12.
Otter and Crawley will take each other on in the second semi in a repeat of last year’s bronze medal match in which Otter prevailed 15-10.
Former champions set to clash in Boys’ U19 semis
There are only two former champions in the Boys’ U19 semi-finals and – just as in the Girls’ event – they will be playing each other for a place in the final.
Lancaster have won the title an impressive eight times, most recently over three consecutive years between 2010 and 2012.
After performing relatively modestly in the Prelims, they won their qualification group in fine style, defeating last year’s champions Solihull 11-6 in the process.
Lancaster will take on three-time champions City of Manchester, who won the title just two years ago and went unbeaten through their qualification group, finishing level on points with group winners Croydon Amphibians.
Croydon are the only team unbeaten through both Prelims and Qualifiers and will take on Exeter in the other semi final, the South West outfit having put paid to Solihull’s hopes of defending their title with a 16-12 defeat in their final match of the Qualifiers.
Exeter looking for third title in Boys’ U17 Champs
Exeter also field teams in both the Girls’ U17 and Boys’ U17 semi finals, the latter being the only ASA National Age Group Water Polo title the club has lifted with back-to-back victories in 1999 and 2000.
A mouth-watering clash with two-time champions Sedgefield awaits them in the Boys’ semis with Sedgefield boasting a wealth of talent from last season’s gold-medal winning U15 squad.
Last year’s runners-up Invicta take on 2013 champions City of Manchester in the other Boys’ U17 semi.
Exeter’s Girls’ U17 side will face six-time champions City of Manchester in their semi-final, Manchester having topped the qualification group in impressive style with victories over all three of their fellow semi-finalists.
Otter became just the fourth team to win the Girls’ U17 title 12 months ago and they will face City of Liverpool in the second semi in a repeat of last year’s final.