Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships 2023 - U19 Boys Finals
The final match of the competition saw Worthing hold off a late Cheltenham comeback to win the U19s boys’ final at the 2023 Swim England Water Polo National Age Group Championships.
The victory means that the Sussex based club have won two national age group titles in as many years after their U17 boys success in 2022.
In a tense and tight first quarter, Worthing got the early lead thanks to two Henry Broadhurst strikes to put them into a 2-0 lead.
Cheltenham fought back to bring the gap down to just one at half time, with the teams locked in a close battle at 4-3.
Worthing extended their lead to three in the third period before Cheltenham began to claw back the gap.
Goals from Toby Chilcott, Will Thompson and Thomas Webster put Cheltenham on the brink of taking the game to penalties as we entered the final few minutes.
Worthing’s keeper Felix Monaghan then pulled off some excellent saves in the final few minutes of the match that helped see the Sussex side get over the line. His impressive reactions cemented his place as goalkeeper of the tournament.
In a strong defensive display from Worthing it was Broadhurst who was the main man in attack. He added two more to his first quarter to end the game with four on his way to the tournaments MVP award.
“A team effort in and out of the water”
Worthing’s head coach Alastair Roberts was full of praise for his victorious side. He said: “I’m absolutely delighted. We won the U17 event last year and we didn’t think we’d quite be ready to win this one this year.
“So the boys have been unbelievable, they did absolutely brilliantly to qualify and the way they played the two games here has been fantastic. Every credit goes to them and they deserve it they really do.
“It was a nervy game so I’ve had better days but I knew it would be a really tight match. And actually we said before the game that if we kept things tight then we’d have a chance.
“We felt that we could control the defensive side of the game then we might just have enough to get past them because Cheltenham are a great side, well coached and well run. So this is a big achievement for us.”
Also on the scoresheet for Worthing was Ethan Lecuyer (2), Tumay Evcimen Junior and Joey Taylor.
The Cheltenham scorers in full were Chilcott (2), Thompson (3), Webster and Louie McKie.
Roberts wanted to add his thanks to everyone involved in the club for their support. “It’s a six-and-a-half-hour drive back down to Sussex and you’ve seen the number of people that have come here to support us. It just shows the enthusiasm for it from everyone involved at the club. And that involves a lot of people doing their bits and pieces so this isn’t just about the 13 boys involved today it’s a team effort, in and out of the water. This team is the same squad that won the U17 title last year so we’ll back and every single one of them will want to play next time around.”
Sedgefield’s second half surge
A second half surge from Sedgefield saw them come out on top in their bronze medal match with Caledonia. It was the Scottish side who held the early advantage thanks to goals from Ali Shippey and Ethan Aiken in the first quarter.
Sedgefield fought back however to move into a narrow 7-6 lead at half time. Then Sedgefield stepped it up a notch by netting 13 goals in the second half of the game to their opponents six.
That meant they came away as the bronze medallists with a 20-12 victory.
Eight of Sedgefield’s goals were scored by Henry Jackson, including four in the final quarter alone. His strikes won him the top scorer of the competition with 11 goals in total.
Ben Alderson grabbed five with Rohan Henderson getting a hat trick.
Dom Epton (2), Cayden Down and Hamza Tran completed their goal tally.
The goals for Caledonia were scored by Aiken (2), Murray Dickson (3), Cailean Thomson, Alex De Gaetano, Leo Sanders, Nathan Campbell (2) and Shippey (2).