20 Apr 2020
U18 Water Polo Plate Bronze Success

Captain's view- Matt Dixon

After winning the ESSA Bowl Tournament last year, the team were confident going into our second year of the ESSA National Schools tournament. We started our season with two friendly fixtures against KES and Warwick School which we won 14- 9 and 14-7 respectively, this filled the team with confidence going into the preliminary round which decided the band of the tournament we would qualify for.

The first round took place at Walsall Gala baths which would prove difficult for our team as it was an all deep pool. We would face KES Birmingham and Warwick once again as well as Manchester Grammar School, whom we knew would be a well-drilled side. The first match was against Warwick which we won comfortably 17-3 however, none of us were prepared for the KES match that would follow directly afterwards. Despite a hard battle with KES, due to fatigue from the previous fixture we were unable to claim another win, leaving the final score at 6-4. Our final match was against Manchester Grammar School, as we suspected they were a very polished side and resulted in an 11-5 loss. Despite losing two fixtures we qualified for the plate; a level above the bowl which the boys were happy with considering they were keen for a challenge!

The second round would be hosted by Camp Hill in our very shallow and cold pool. With one school dropping out, Warwick and St. Peter’s York were the schools that stood between us and the Plate finals. Having beaten Warwick at the previous tournament we were confident we could beat them at our home pool, which we did with some great goalkeeping from Sam Hope and goals from our goalkeeper turned striker Simon Halstead. St. Peter’s York was now the only thing that stood between us and the finals, we got off to a great start, but after a slight lapse in concentration in defence, the score at halftime was 4-4. With Dr Taylor, Mr Bruten and Mr O’Malley as witness the boys came out of the gates with a new fire under them with goals from Matt Dixon, Krishan Kaushal and Lorcan Halstead leaving the score at 8-4. Meaning we had finished first and qualified for the finals in March alongside St. Peter’s York.

After three weeks of intense training, the finals had arrived. The boys left school bright and early ready to return home with the gold or so we thought. On arrival we learned that we would be facing four schools, Queen Elizabeth London, St. Peter’s York and St. Paul’s London whom we had faced before last year as well as Dulwich College London. First up was a thrilling 5-4 victory over Queen Elizabeth followed by a superb 13-4 win over St. Peter’s however, the toughest two matches remained. After watching Dulwich College play against other sides we knew they would be a formidable side. Once again we got off to a rough start with many of our key players being kept out the game, despite our best efforts we were unable to convert many opportunities into goals, resulting in a 6-1 loss. With two wins and a loss, second place was up for grabs. Whilst both teams were evenly matched in the beginning some late goals from St. Paul’s left the final score at 8-5. Even though we had finished in third, the team were thrilled to not only be going home with a medal but also with the knowledge we were 9th in the country. Special mentions go to Krishan Kaushal, Matt Dixon and Lorcan Halstead for their efforts in attack and Ross Evans, Michael James- Thomas and Sai Potluri for their defence. Player of the season was Krishan Kaushal for his outstanding performance across all fixtures.

In addition, it’s been a pleasure to coach the team with Jason Yeo making sure there’s never a dull moment at training, also congratulations to Rufus Hall who is now playing Water Polo outside of school at Warley Water Polo club. Moreover, I hope Water Polo not only continues in school but becomes a more integral part of the house and colours system. Many thanks to the whole team especially Simon Halstead, Michael James- Thomas, Jason Yeo, Krishan Kaushal, Sai Potluri, Leon Zhang, Sam Hope, Mr O’Malley, Mr Watkins, Mr Burgess and Mrs Halstead for their commitment to the team over the last two years and Warley for providing us with balls and caps to train with. Finally, I wish Lorcan Halstead and Joe Day the best of luck as they take on the role of captains of the team over the next two years.