Sydney University finished the 2014 National Water Polo League with bronze medals in the men’s and women’s competitions.
And the star players in each University side, Jonno Cotterill and Keesja Gofers, were rewarded for their performances with selection in the respective men’s and women’s All Star teams, named after the finals at the Valley Pool in Brisbane last weekend. Cotterill also won the Tom Hoad Medal as the Most Valuable Player for the season.
UNSW-West Magpies won their first men’s NWPL title with a tight 7-5 win over the Victorian Seals, who fell just short of glory in the first season in the NWPL. UNSW-Wests also collected the minor premiership on their way to the title.
Sydney University won the bronze medal with a 7-5 win over UWA Torpedoes. With semi-final losses behind both sides, the focus turned to winning the bronze medal.
Sydney University were chasing their first NWPL medal since their bronze in 2011, while UEA were coming off a silver medal in 2013.
The first quarter was an arm wrestle in defence, with both sides unable to convert during extra man opportunities. A late Jeremy Davie goal for Sydney University gave them a 1-0 lead at the first break.
Sydney University’s defence continued to dictate the terms of the game during the start of the second period as the Torpedoes attempted to find a way to score their opening goal of the game. It was Andrew Ford who finally broke through for UWA with two minutes remaining on the clock to level the game at 1-1 at half time.
Brandon Johnson backed that up with another goal 50 seconds into the third quarter and UWA skipper Brett McGihie edged the score the 3-1 with a goal in his 250th NWPL game.
Sydney University levelled the scores with a pair of goals from skipper Cotterill, but Johnson pushed UWA ahead again with his second goal. But goals to Sam Avallone and Scott Nicholson saw Sydney University end the third quarter 5-4 up.
The Lions stretched their lead to three early in the final quarter with goals to Jonno and Reed Cotterill and as the clock wore down Mitch Emery brought UWA to 7-5 with a minute remaining.
“It’s always positive to improve on last season’s results,” Sydney University skipper Cotterill said. “We thought we had put in the work and had the team to go a little bit higher but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We fought right to the end, and we showed today with all our fighting that this team has great character now.”
Sydney University Lions: Anthony Hrysanthos, Nathan Cargill, Trent Franklin, Scott Nicholson, Adam Polivka, Luke Northcott, Reed Cotterill, Samuele Avallone, Tom Kearns, Jeremy Davie, Paulo Salemi, Jonno Cotterill and Greg Enloe.
Fremantle Marlins claimed the women’s NWPL title for 2014 with a nail-biting 6-5 win over Brisbane Barracudas.
Sydney University won the bronze medal with a 6-4 win over UTS-Balmain Tigers in a battle of attrition.
Scoring opportunities were minimal in the first quarter of the bronze medal game, with Isobel Bishop edging the Lions ahead late in the piece.
Balmain replied in the second quarter with goals to Taryn Woods and Pascalle Casey to give them a 2-1 half-time lead. Bre Appel made in 3-1 early in the business quarter, but Bishop kept Sydney University in the hunt with her second goal and 17-year-old Kristy Donkin levelled proceedings late in the term.
Gofers opened the scoring in the third stanza to give the Lions an early lead before Appel levelled with her second. With under a minute left in the quarter Bronte Halligan goaled for the Lions, giving them a 5-4 lead at the last break.
Gofers led by example in the final term, with her second goal sealing the bronze medal for Sydney University.
Lions keeper and former NWPL Finals Series MVP, Alicia McCormack, said the team responded well after the disappointment of just missing out on a finals berth with their 7-5 semi-final loss to the Brisbane Barracudas.
“I think the girls worked on producing a real team effort when we visited Brisbane two weeks ago,” she said.
“Yesterday (semi-final) was disappointing, but to get so close to the Barras was good.”
Sydney University Lions: Alicia McCormack, Emily Scott, Gabby Wikman, Emma Lewis, Hannah Buckling, Georgia Clarke, Keesja Gofers, Isobel Bishop, Tahlia Bogg, Sarah Harris, Kristy Donkin, Bronte Halligan, Georgia Rossettin
All Star teams
Men: Jonno Cotterill (Sydney University Lions), Aaron Younger (Fremantle Mariners), Anthony Martin (KFC Queensland Breakers), Milos Vukicevic (Cronulla Sharks), Rhys Howden (Brisbane Barracudas), Blake Edwards (Victorian Seals) and Luke Quinlivan (GK, UWA Torpedoes).
Women: Rowie Webster (Victorian Seals), Glencora McGhie (Fremantle Marlins), Ashleigh Southern (Brisbane Barracudas), Keesja Gofers (Sydney University Lions), Kate Gynther (Brisbane Barracudas), Maddi Schmid (Cronulla Sharks) and Elena Gigli (GK, Hunter Hurricanes).