City of Manchester regain U15 Open National Age Group title in tense finale

City of Manchester regained the GoCardless Swim England Water Polo U15 Open National Age Group Championship crown after defeating Watford 5-4 in a nervous finale at the Alan Higgs Centre in Coventry.

Manchester had to hold off a late fightback after Watford scored three of their four goals in the final period to heap the pressure on the North West side.

The club who lost out to West London Penguin in a similar style last year fought on until the end to ensure they got their hands back on the trophy. 

In the end, it was Andrew Stephenson’s fourth period goal that got them over the line to regain the title they last won two years ago.

After an equal opening period, C McMillan gave Manchester a 2-1 lead into half-time before two unanswered strikes from Shemanov and Roxburgh looked to have put Manchester into a comfortable position.

However, Watford weren’t done there as tournament MVP Rishi Patel added two goals in the final period to complete his hat trick and Ilijas Crompton put another to their tally in what was a nervy final few minutes. 

Patel’s third came just 28 seconds from time but Manchester just had enough in the tank to add to their success in the U19 Female event back in April.


‘A great moment’

Reflecting on the match-up City of Manchester’s head coach Meritxell Escoda-Manzano said: “It’s such a nice feeling, we’ve been working very hard for the whole season and now we’ve achieved all the goals we had so it’s a great moment for us all.

“This is the first year that I’ve coached Manchester so it’s a special achievement to win and get the gold back for the club.

“We still need to work mentally and how to be work better under pressure but this is part of growing and we were very good defensively and have been all tournament so I think that was the key to our victory.

There was more to celebrate for City of Manchester as their goalkeeper, Jamie Collins, was awarded the top goalkeeper award after a string of fantastic saves throughout the weekend.

And Meritxell was quick to comment on the impact he has on the side saying: “He’s improved so much and is such a big part of this team, I’m very proud to have him and coach him.” 

City of Birmingham came away with the bronze medal after a scintillating display which saw them defeat Worthing 16-5.

The Midlands side showed their class in the second and third period after an even start to the match-up.

Six goals before half time and five in the third period saw them move into a 13-3 lead giving them a deserved spot on the podium.

Worthing battled on with two late strikes but Birmingham were too strong in the end as they came away with bronze.

Seven goals from Filippos Psychogios and five from Erik Buhaescu put Birmingham into a commanding lead with Ethan Chu, Matthew Walton, and Erikson Yip also getting on the scoresheet.

Potent Patras takes top scorer award

The remaining playoff matches saw teams play head-to-head matches to decide their final placings. This morning’s action opened up with Hucknall impressing in a 19-3 win against Barnet for 13th place.

Hucknall took control from the off, asserting themselves into a comfortable 5-0 lead in the opening period. They managed the game well from there on out with Frank Lamb top scoring for the team with five goals throughout the match-up.

Sutton & Cheam secured 11th place after a 12-1 win against Grantham. They scored three goals per period in a consistent display where both Ben Pearce and Max Drazic netted a hat trick.

Six goals from Charlie White saw Cheltenham earn ninth place thanks to a victory against Sedgefield. His performance helped his side to an 18-6 win to round out their trip to Coventry with a win.

Thomas Forests’ four goals gave Sedgefield some hope but they ultimately had to settle for tenth position.

Exeter came out on top in the battle for fifth as they edged past Beckenham with an 11-6 scoreline.

Joseph Davies’ seven-goal salvo fired the South West side to victory with Gethin Williams (2) and Samuel Mudd completing the clubs scorers.  Oliver Goode scored all six of Beckenham’s goals in response but didn’t quite do enough to take his side to victory. 

Konstantinos Patras put on an attacking masterclass as West London Penguin bounced back to secure seventh spot.

Patras scored fourteen times in the club’s final match against City of Sheffield as the defending champions ended their campaign on a high with a 23-3 win.

It sealed Patras’ place as the competition’s top scorer as he netted an incredible 36 times in five matches across the weekend.

Check out all the scores from the day here and find all the event photography courtesy of Will Johnston Photography here.