Newton Abbot Under 17 girls’ Waterpolo team followed up last year’s Under 15s to win the 2018 National title.
Newton Abbot defeated a strong London Otter side 9-6 to take the title in front of a full house at the Manchester Aquatic Centre last weekend. Otter, who beat the Devon side 2 years ago to take the under 15 title could not match the speed, power and superior technique of the Newton side.
The improvement in the Newton Abbot team shocked the opposition throughout this year’s competition. The players and team improved throughout the rounds and although not having lost a game in the qualifying rounds still went into finals weekend as underdogs for the title.
The Newton team sent a strong message to the other semi finalists with a convincing win over Cheltenham in the semi-finals, whilst in the other semi-final round Otter beat a strong Tyldesley team.
The final took place on Sunday with London Otter at full strength with five England players in their starting seven. Newton took an early lead which they held to half time in a very tight first half. In the third quarter Otter came back to lead the game 6-5 for the first time. Going into the final quarter the Newton coaches refocused the team on their defensive structure and the transition in to offence.
This resulted in Newton Abbot scoring four unanswered goals in the last quarter to take the title 9-6.
Coaches Sue Webb and Phil Shears were delighted with the team’s performance and the national title, and joined players in the pool as the final whistle blew.
Phil said: “It is impossible to single out any one individual as all 12 players were outstanding throughout the competition. The support and encouragement they gave each other was incredible and proved invaluable in the early rounds when they ground out hard fought victories against Sheffield, Rotherham and Cheltenham.
“Although South West players had been largely overlooked by the England coaching set-up, following this weekend’s competition all the Newton players have been invited to trial for the England squad in either May or June – only one of the players having been previously selected for the squad.
“As a club, Newton Abbot has been building towards this for four years, and the support of sponsors three years ago allowed the club to invest in the players and enter the competitions. Special thanks must go to Ian Woolley IW dental laboratories, Centrax Gas Turbines and Ian Manley of SafeMark Roadmarking Limited, without whose support we would never have achieved the national titles.”