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Water polo nationals come to Habs

On Wednesday 13 March, Habs hosted the National Under-15 Water Polo Championships. As one of six teams competing to be national champions, we were hoping to go one better than our team did two years earlier, when winning silver medals in the Under-13 competition. 

The contest began mid-morning once the teams had gathered at the Medburn Sports Centre. With a healthy number of spectators watching on, our students were placed in a group with Whitgift School, Croydon and Manchester Grammar.  

Off to a winning start 
Strong results in these matches would mean qualifying top of the group and being seeded for the semi-final. This is exactly what we got, with Habs beating Whitgift 6-0 and Manchester Grammar 6-3, allowing all thirteen of our Under-15s to play their part. Confidence was understandably high, with Shrey (10M2) proving a formidable rock at the heart of defence and Rishi (10S1) a dominant force, scoring a raft of excellent goals. 

Into the semi-finals 
That left the boys facing Dulwich College in the semi-finals. After watching  Trinity School, Croydon squeeze past Manchester Grammar in the other match, our Under-15s hit their stride from the off. Scoring within 10 seconds, it was an outstanding team effort finished by Theo (9H1), a strong centre forward in our Year 10 team. Dulwich had impressed in the group stages, yet Habs raced into a  5 - 0 lead. The second half was a tighter affair, but ended with a convincing 8 - 3 win. 

Time for a rematch 
This set up a rematch against Trinity School, who had beaten our students in their Under-13 final two years earlier. With the balcony of the Medburn bursting with a passionate crowd, the two best teams did battle in a tight affair. Both goals came under heavy pressure, yet open shots were few and far between.  

Trinity took the lead on the counter-attack in the first half, but Habs responded with a goal scored from a seemingly impossible position. With the score tied going into the second half, Trinity broke from their goalmouth to lead once again. Habs were playing brilliantly but were unable to find the net.  

Finishing 2 – 1, it was silver medals for the second time. The boys were devastated, knowing they had been the strongest side in the contest. Yet after some rest and reflection, they are sure to be excited for the next tournament. 

Please do congratulate the team if you see them around school, it was a tiring, but highly impressive display. The crowd were amazing, while Mr Brkovic has done a superb job with the players, building a visible legacy with water polo players from Years 7 to 9 cheering in the stands. Thanks also to Mrs Hodis, who managed the tournament seamlessly from start to finish. The ESSA officials and visiting schools were delighted with the event.