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West London Penguin back on top after winning the U17 boys title

A dominant display from West London Penguin saw them regain their U17 boys title at the 2023 Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships.

Penguin defeated City of Manchester 13-4 in the final as they returned to the top of the pyramid in this age group after their last success in 2019.

It was a strong defensive display that caught the eye from the Penguin team as they conceded just four times to a Manchester side that was packed full of talent.

They were potent in front of goal too, scoring nine inside the first half to give them an impressive 9-1 lead by half-time.

Bailey Sapsed led the scoring for Penguin with five goals in the final as he won the U17 boys MVP award.

Also on the scoresheet for the West London side was Jack Benson, Matteo Antonelli, Sidney Gruber, Shai Saltman and a hat trick from Maximos Karagiannis.

Their assistant coach Ruben Kurtev was full of praise for his side after their victory.

He said: “I think the boys played really well. And most importantly they played together, that is why they have won the trophy.

“Individually, Manchester have so many good players but they kept going and fought together for the whole game.

“This group never gives up on anything. They work really hard for this moment, they sacrifice so many things to play so it’s a really good payoff for them for all the effort they have put in.

“And as coaches we’re really happy because they all deserve this.

“They worked so hard together to learn the setup and the tactics because I think if you look at the two matches we’ve had, it showed how confident they are with the system.

“You can see that by the results, we haven’t conceded more than six goals in either game so they’ve played some quality polo in my opinion.

“Those guys showed today and yesterday that with the way they are playing they can continue for a while and can have so much more success in the future.”

Manchester fought on right until the final whistle with keeper Tobias Khawar standing out as he took home the top goalkeeper award.

Their goals were scored by Miles Kinloch, Max Spragg and a double from Oliver Salimbeni.

Penguin’s Water Polo Manager, Ian Grimwood, wanted to thank everyone at the club for supporting the team.

He added: Thank you very much to Swim England for putting on such a fantastic event. Especially people like Mike Hesketh who help with the organisation and running of the competition.

“Thanks to everyone at Penguin for all the support they put in for the kids, the parents for all of their constant support and the coaches Claudio Palumbo and Ruben Kurtev for all they’ve done to give the opportunity for the boys to be here.”

Worthing win the bronze

Another club that will be heading back down south with medals to their name is Worthing after they defeated Exeter 14-9 in the bronze medal match.

Worthing’s strong defensive display in the opening quarter put them in a strong position after they surged into a 4-1 lead after the first eight minutes.

From then on they managed the game well against a spirited Exeter side who played their hearts out as they looked to get back into the match-up.

But it was defending champions Worthing who ran out the victors to claim the bronze.

Amongst the goals for the Sussex side was Tumay Evcimen Junior. He got six in the match as he became the joint top scorer for the U17 boys alongside Penguin’s Maximos Karagiannis with a total of nine across the two matches.

Also scoring for Worthing was Cassius Humphrey, Dom Bullen, Olly Phillips (2), and Joey Taylor (4).

On the scoresheet for Exeter was Stanley McCormick (2), Ali-James Demir (4), Harry Colman, James Rostron and Kia Tik Woody Wong.

You can follow all our reports from the Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships U17/U19 here.

Photos: Will Johnston Photography.