Sheffield shootout delight as Bridgefield, Manchester and Cheltenham make finals

Penalty drama stole the show as the City of Sheffield booked their place in the U19s girls final on the opening day of the Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships 2022.

After an 11-11 draw at full-time against defending champions Otter, the South Yorkshire side held their nerve to come through 4-1 on penalties.

Joining them in the final will be the City of Manchester, whilst in the U19s boy’s final will see Bridgefield take on Cheltenham.

In the bronze medal matches, Otter will take on Cheltenham in the U19s girls whilst the U19s boys bronze medal match sees West London Penguin take on Caledonia.

Sheffield’s penalty victory

After a tight encounter, a late Sarah Craig goal 30 seconds from time for Sheffield forced the first of the U19s girl’s semi-finals to penalties against Otter.

An impressive six goals from Emily Crossley, combined with a hat-trick from Craig and a goal for each of Rosie Griffiths and Laura Skelton, helped take the tie to a shootout where all four of the girls scored their penalty shots to book Sheffield’s spot in the final.

Four goals from Pippa Danielson, a hat-trick from Sarah Ellis-Keeler and goals from Natasha Gerhardstein (2), Lucy Bullock (1) and Lucy-Mai Helliwell (1) were all in vain for Otter, who fought valiantly as they relinquished their crown.

Sheffield head coach, Chris Motley, praised his sides performance. He said: “I think the girls played outstanding water polo and when push came to shove, the goals we scored to get back from two down to draw level and take it to penalties were excellent.

“Our goalkeeper deserves a special mention, Amy Wakefield, who made an outstanding save to put us on the front foot and all our girls put their penalties away.

“I’ve been in that position and it’s so nerve jangling. That is pressure, with everybody watching you and if you miss everybody knows you’ve missed and it could be that you don’t go through to the final.

“I’m just very, very proud of all of the girls. We’ve got a very young side as well. We’ve only got about five players who are actually 04’s, so it looks good for the future too.”

Bridgefield edge out West London Penguin

The first of the U19s boy’s semi-finals saw Bridgefield run out 11-8 winners over West London Penguin.

In a tight match that was level at 5-5 at the end of the second period, it was the Liverpool-based side who defended excellently to deny their opponents scoring in the third period and held on to progress to the final.

A joyous Bridgefield head coach, Ant McGuinness, was proud of his sides accomplishments, saying: “For a little club like Bridgefield, not that many members, just a water polo club not a swimming club, it’s amazing.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever entered the U19s so to get to the final, it’s a massive achievement.

“They’re a great bunch of lads. They’ve been together since mini polo and they’ve come all the way through so I’m really, really happy for them.”

Bridgefield shared out the goals with a hat-trick from Tom Davis, two from Marcus Woods and goals from Kian Kniveton, Seth Dewfield, Jack Moss, Louis Stowell, Micheal Dixon and Frankie Docking-Smith on route to victory.

On the scoresheet for Penguin was Panos Verroiotis, Emanuele Bardella, Theo Pliner, and a hat-trick from Max Hubrich.

City of Manchester secure third finals place

After the success of both of their U17s sides earlier in the day, City of Manchester reached their third final for the weekend after a 14-8 victory in the U19s girls semi-final over Cheltenham.

It was an exceptional performance from Harriet Dickens they had to thank for their progression, after she scored more than 50 per cent of her sides goals, scoring eight times.

Impressive doubles from Holly Toone and Lilly Pryce as well as goals from Lucy Blenkinship and Charlotte Pritchard completed the scoring for the Manchester side.

Scoring for Cheltenham was Charlotte Martin, Katie Cooper and Michela Totolici (all 2) alongside a goal for each of Mara Totolici and Freya Webster.

Manchester head coach, Izzy Howe, said: “It’s been a stressful but successful day.

“I think as a club we can be really proud going into the finals day with three teams in finals, I think that’s a great achievement.”

Two finals for Cheltenham as U19s boys defeat Caledonia

Cheltenham’s U19s boys put on an impressive display after a 12-5 victory over Caledonia.

It secured a second final spot for Cheltenham on Sunday after their U17s girls side made the final earlier on in the day.

Cheltenham’s George Glover led the way with 5 goals with a hat-trick from Will Thompson plus goals from Aaron Downer, Thomas Webster, Sam Handley and Louie Mckie fired Cheltenham to victory.

James Miller, Euan Walker, Luke Hunter and Murray Dickson (2) all got on the scoresheet for the Scottish side.

Stuart Mckie, Cheltenham head coach, was pleased with his sides performance. He said: “That’s the result we wanted however, a bit of a shady start.

“Going 3-0 down in the first quarter isn’t great, but we can put that down to being round a hot pool all day.

“I’ve just had the team chat and I’ve told all the boys that today, they all did something brilliantly. For me, they all did something which got us through to the end of the game as winners.”