With a debut game arguably being the most important for any side, a win was essential for the Men’s Water Polo 1st team. The opponents came in the form of Lancaster University, a newly promoted side. With three new additions to the squad, Newcastle travelled with high expectations from the game, and despite several shaky moments, the team, led by captain Adam Courtley, slowly dismantled the opposition with a score line which sent a statement to the rest of the league.
The first quarter, questionably Newcastle’s weakest, exposed that the new squad had only played one practice game during pre-season. Several goals were shared by both teams but 2nd year medic Max Tidmarsh stepped up with two outstanding goals late in the period to set the score at 4-2 Newcastle. A quick team talk and rearrangement of positions meant Newcastle were prepared for the next quarter.[pullquote]in one offensive move he avoided the tackles of three opposition players and elegantly placed the ball above the keeper’s head[/pullquote]
Lancaster, who also suffered from a slow start, now appeared much more controlled and confident with the ball, and quickly pulled the game level thanks to two quick counter attack goals. However, Newcastle kept their nerve, and manged to match Lancaster with conversions, which included a 9 meter long shot of pinpoint accuracy from Samuel Morris. As the teams hit the end of the second quarter, the score sat at 8-6; a narrow lead for Newcastle.
The second half began in somewhat controversial circumstances; during Newcastle’s initial offensive play, a player on the opposition bench threw a bottle into the pool in an attempt to block Tidmarsh’s shot. This action saw the aforementioned player red carded and the Lancaster team and coach in a state of shock, Newcastle Coach Matt Little seized on the disturbance to call a timeout and instructed the Newcastle side on how to capitalize on a slightly disgruntled opposition.
Newcastle continued to impress, scoring 6 goals in the third quarter including two apiece from Courtley and new centre forward Ashley Wilkins. 14-8 Newcastle. The final quarter was a remarkable show of a team that is perfecting moving as if it were one being, bought together by significant moments of individual brilliance.
Tidmarsh added another two to his tally during power plays, whilst Lancaster struggled to make any real impact on the game, only converting two somewhat lucky goals. As difficult it is to compliment the man, the final minutes of the game provided Courtley with a fine opportunity to show off his skill; in one offensive move he avoided the tackles of three opposition players and elegantly placed the ball above the keeper’s head. With about one-minute remaining, Courtley retrieved the ball from goalkeeper Owen Herman, and proceeded to deceive the opposite team by hiding it between his legs, until reaching the halfway mark of the pool and firing a shot in the top right corner of the goal from 12m. Final score 20-10 Newcastle.
The team next due to play University of Manchester this Sunday in what will be a rather exiting game, but on the back of such a strong initial performance, Newcastle are intent on securing a home win.