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City of Manchester go one better this year to clinch U17 Female title

City of Manchester returned to the top as they clinched the U17 Female title at the GoCardless Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships 2024 (U17/U19).

After settling for silver in 2023, the club from the North West regained the title they held back in 2022 with a victory over West London Penguin in the final.

Most of the hard work was done in the opening quarter as City of Manchester opened up a 6-2 lead – Amelia Crompton completing an early hat-trick to provide half of those goals.

Despite being outscored in the final quarter, with two doubles from Penguin’s Jaspreet Gill and Alba Dittli, Manchester held on to take a 10-8 win in the gold medal match.

They collected the Edith and Tom Lythe Memorial Trophy and Lucy Blenkinship was awarded the Most Valuable Player award.

Awards for the top goalscorer and top goalkeeper were presented to Cheltenham’s Jessica Day and Penguin’s Kaila Saltman respectively.

City of Manchester head coach, Sebastian Long, explained that his side suffered a setback in the build up to the National Age Group Championships but he was proud of their determination.

He said: “I’m super proud, we’ve worked hard coming into this tournament and we’ve put a lot of hours in.

“I’m very, very happy and proud of the players, they came with determination. Unfortunately, we had a sickness – one of our key players got sick on Friday so we felt a bit dicey coming into it, but all the younger girls really stepped up and showed that they have the quality so I’m really proud of them.

“The performances throughout the prelims and this weekend have been fantastic. As Manchester we have a few superstars in our team, but you can’t just win with one or two players, you need the supporting players to fit around them and work together so coming into this tournament we really worked on that.”

On winning his second trophy as a coach, following on from his team’s success in the U15s event in 2023, he said: “This is my second trophy and you’re always hoping and striving for more.

“Next year we’ll come again and try to win the U17s. I think it will be a bit more difficult but we’ll work hard and obviously going into the U15s NAGs later this year we’ll work hard for that as well.”

Another Cheltenham comeback

Last year’s champions, Cheltenham, came out on top in the bronze medal match against Worthing.

With a young squad at this year’s championships, the team performed well to secure the final medal spot with a 10-9 win.

Worthing, who brought their female team to a National Age Group Championship finals for the first time, gave a great account of themselves and were ahead in the match for three of the four quarters.

However, in similar fashion to their title-winning performance in 2023, Cheltenham produced a wonderful final quarter comeback which was almost single-handedly inspired by Jessica Day.

The number four scored all five of her side’s goals to steal the victory as well as earn the top goalscorer honours.

You can keep up with all the scores by visiting the live scoreboard and see all the reports from the Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships here.

Images – Will Johnston Photography