8 March 2023
After managing to get through to the Water Polo National Plate Final for the first time in our club’s history, we knew that the teams in the final would be very difficult as they were in the top 10 in the country. We got put in the more difficult group with King’s School Grantham and Colfe’s School who were both top tier teams. Our first game was against King’s School Grantham, who managed to make it to the National Cup Final last year, showing that they are a very well-seasoned team and competitive in water polo. This was clearly seen when we played them with the end score being 11-4 to a very strong side who would end up going on to win our group, being the best team at the tournament.
After getting rid of the rust from the long bus journey after our first game, we were set to match up against Colfe’s School after a long rest. Going into this match we knew that we had to win the game in order to proceed into the top 4 pool and have a chance of getting into the top 3. We started off very strong having some great opportunities, but not able to capitalise upon these chances. Just before half time, Colfe’s was able to bury a beautiful goal past us putting them up 1-0 at half time. Aaron (coach) gave an inspiring speech at the half which led to us firing 2 outstanding goals past their keeper, putting us up 2-1. However, Colfe’s replied by putting 2 more goals past us, changing the scoreline again. We replied once more from Will d’Arcy who got on the counter-attack and managed to even the scoreline. After we gave away two late penalties, which Colfe’s capitalised on, the end scoreline was 5-3 to Colfe’s putting us into the 5th/6th playoff. This matchup was against St Ambrose. This would be the final water polo match for the majority of the core players in the team from the Upper Sixth. After a speech from the Captain, Chris Skelton, telling the team to enjoy our last game, we finally did the infamous 2,3 DONS chant beforehand.
We started off very strong once again managing to put a goal past them early on, but St Ambrose replied by putting 3 of their own goals past us before the half. Going into the second half we had a strong determination to win the match, which led to us putting 3 more impressive goals past St Ambrose from Henry, Will and Can. After some very impressive saves from the keeper, Jacob Lamsdale, in crunch time we were feeling good. However, in the second half they were to get a few break away goals which put them up 6-4 at the final whistle. At the end of the tournament we placed 6th in the National Plate Final placing us in the top 12 teams in the country out of a large cohort of teams who have been playing for a lot longer than the Abingdon team has been.
This season has been very impressive and successful and has led to lots of victories and developments in how we play as a squad seen by the top 12 placing in the country. The top scorer of the season was Can Tugcetin who over the last two years has put an impressive 44 goals in only 26 games, with Jacob Lamsdale being a very solid and strong keeper throughout the span of the 2 years, making some incredible saves along the way. Sadly we have to say goodbye to our upper sixth water polo players, Henry Dearden (vice-captain), Will d’Arcy, Johnny James, Chris Skelton (Captain), Joe Watkiss, Jacob Lamsdale and Alex Cooper Marcos, who have all played integral roles in the development of this squad and the success that we have achieved since the start of the club. Many thanks go out to our coaches Mr Mason and Aaron, who have both played fundamental roles in this squad’s growth and without them we would not be in the National Finals.