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Meet the four teams bidding to be crowned U17s girls national age group champions

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Sixteen teams will be bidding to be win the Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championship as the U17s and U19s boys and girls finals are staged at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre.

In the build-up to finals weekend on 13-14 April, we focus on the sides who will be battling it out for the prestigious title.

Here are the four U17s girls teams who are in the running to become national age group champions.

Cheltenham

With a team spread between the ages of 14 and 16, Cheltenham will hope their mix of youth and experience combines perfectly in Liverpool.

The club’s U17s team finished in fourth place at last year’s finals, but the current group hope to have found form at the right time as they look to upset some of the more fancied sides.

Cheltenham booked their place in the semi-finals with dominant back-to-back wins over Newton Abbot and Watford, having lost to City of Liverpool in their opening game of the qualifiers.

They will need a big change in fortune when they take on City of Sheffield in the first semi-final.

Sheffield won 9-0 when the two sides met in the preliminaries earlier in the year.

Squad list

Alice Tubby, Charlie Rye, Charlotte Martin (Vice Captain), Evie Handley, Freya Webster, Gigi Boskett-Williams, Katy Daley, Mara Totolici, Mary Bradley, Michela Totolici, Matilda Dugdale (Captain), Priya Kennedy, Sofia Fountain, Tisa Maunder-Bushell. Coach: Rich Middleton.

City of Liverpool

Liverpool also have a relatively young team, with only three players at the top of the age group.

They take on Otter in the second semi-final and will be confident of building on a successful qualifying campaign.

Liverpool beat Cheltenham 11-5 and Watford 19-7, before a 14-14 draw with Newton Abbot guaranteed they finished top of Group A.

Chief coach Gordon Dacre said: “Getting through to the finals without losing a game is a major achievement.”

Squad list

Amelie Cornell, Charlotte Bett, Darcey Lawrenson, Emily Atkinson, Eva Howarth, Hannah Pyper, Holly Rooney, Holly Toone, Isobelle Robb, Kelsy Evans, Lucy White, Matilda Connolly, Rachel Tibke, Roisin O’Connor.

City of Sheffield

City of Sheffield went unbeaten through prelims and qualifiers on their way to the semi-finals.
Sheffield’s progression to the National Age Group Championships finals has been described as ‘scintillating’.

With three wins from three in the prelims – including a gritty 7-6 win over defending U17 girls champions Newton Abbot – they progressed as winners of their league.

Sheffield maintained their winning streak through the qualifiers, scoring 34 goals across their three games to reach the semi-finals.

The squad thrives on their strong team ethic and experience, with nine players in the National Water Polo Academy and 11 having played BWPL senior water polo this season.

Eight players have made the quick step up after winning the U15 National Age Group Championships title last October, while the core of this team won silver at U15 level in 2017.

Coach Chris Motley said: “This group of girls have played a lot of water polo together in different teams over the past couple of years.

“There is a good balance of speed and strength throughout the squad, enabling us to hopefully be dangerous on the counter, but also from set plays around the pit.

“No team can be successful without a strong defence and the team bases its play on giving as little away as possible at the back.

“Two of the girls have already represented England above their own age group.”

Squad list

Aderyn Lane, Anna Motley, Asia Law, Emily Crossley, Emma Jackson, Grace Kaye, Hannah Cashman, Kiah Dyas, Laura Skelton, Lydia Ralston, Maddie Harrison, Poppy Stephenson, Sarah Craig. Coach: Chris Motley.

Otter

Defence was the key to Otter booking their place in the semi-finals.

With one win, one draw and one loss from their qualifying games, they were level on three points with Kirkintilloch.

But their goal difference of minus one proved enough to seal second spot in Group B – a four-goal loss to City of Sheffield and the 11 goals scored in a win over Worthing ultimately aiding their charge to the National Age Group Championships finals.

Otter had to settle for silver at last year’s U17 finals, losing 9-6 to Newton Abbot in the final.

Squad list

Abbie Tinkler-Davies, Alexandra Bridge, Faye Poole, Grace Turner, Hanna Sherwood-Rogers, Lucy Bullock, Lucy-Mai Helliwell, Margaret O’Malia, Sarah Ellis-Keeler, Sarah Mdaoukhi.

The schedule

  • Semi-final 1: City of Sheffield v Cheltenham, 10.40am on 13 April
  • Semi-final 2: City of Liverpool v Otter, 11.50am on 13 April
  • Bronze medal match: 9am on 14 April
  • U17s Girls Final: 10.10am on 14 April

Plate competition

Nova Centurion, Iceni and Otter Futura will all be competing to win the U17s girls plate competition.

All the games will take place on Saturday 13 April.

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