Who will take home the U19s girls national age group title?May 6, 2022
This weekend sees the return of the Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships as the U17s and U19s boys and girls compete for the title at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre.
In the build up to the finals we are taking a closer look at each of the sides competing for the prestigious crown.
Here are the four teams in contention for the U19s girls title.
City of Sheffield
An unbeaten qualifying campaign of three wins and a draw saw Sheffield comfortably book their place in the semi-finals.
They missed out on top spot in Group A on goal difference to the City of Manchester but the team displayed some wonderful performances.
The 7-7 draw with Manchester in the final match of qualification showed the quality of the two teams that will be hoping to take gold this weekend.
Half of the squad are under 18-years-old so they are a team full of great potential and will be confident of making an impact in Liverpool.
Assistant coach, Gabby Williams, said: “This group of girls have played together in various forms for a number of years which helped us to quickly settle down and play to our strengths.
“Our defence was solid, but our grit and determination in attack, even when the scores were close, was the key to securing our place in the finals.”
Squad: Amy Wakefield, Connie Swainson, Rosie Griffiths, Aderyn Lane (Captain), Naomi Littler, Laura-jean Skelton, Madeline Ralston, Isabel Olcer, Severn Annakin, Ruby Taylor, Emily Crossley, Sarah Craig, Alexia West.
Finishing runner-up to Otter in Group B, Cheltenham squeezed through to finals weekend on goal difference after finishing level on points with third-placed Watford.
Three wins, a draw and the defeat to Otter was still an impressive qualification campaign and the Gloucestershire-based side has teams in all four of the competitions at finals weekend, which is a huge credit to the club’s players and staff, who will be hopeful of bringing home some silverware.
Cheltenham will face the City of Manchester in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Otter will be the team to beat heading into finals weekend.
The London-based side will be looking to make it three titles in a row in this age group and their record in qualification backs up their claims to take the crown once again.
They finished with a 100 per cent record in the qualification stage, scoring 59 goals across the five games and winning by an average margin of more than nine goals.
This Otter squad will be desperate to carry on the success of their recent U19 sides and the team should have plenty of depth to challenge for the big prize.
Otter will take on the City of Sheffield in their semi-final match.
City of Manchester
Like their U17s counterparts, Manchester’s U19s girls side had never played together as a full team before the qualifiers, so it is a credit to them that they have made it through to finals weekend.
They got there in impressive style too, topping Group A with three wins and a draw from their four matches and scoring an incredible 51 goals throughout their qualification.
As a newly formed team, you would expect them to grow in confidence for the time spent together and will be hopeful of achieving something special this weekend.
A spokesperson for the club said: “We knew the qualifiers were going to be competitive.
“The girls were ready for the challenge and listened well to the advice given by Izzy [Howe] and Matt [Wright] prior to each match and demonstrated how well they work as a team – with everyone contributing to the goal tally throughout the qualifiers!”
Squad: Alex Rowe, Amelia Brooksbank, Eva Haworth, Abigail Colson, Lucy Blenkinship, Nicole Kelly, Harriet Dickens, Lilly Pryce, Charlotte Pritchard, Holly Toone, Izzy Robb, Ella Carter, Amelia Crompton.