The Sydney University Lions water polo teams are poised to create history by both claiming the Southern Cross Trophy for winning the minor premiership in the National Water Polo League.
With two games to play the women’s team are likely to secure the Trophy with a record of 19-1. It’s the first time in club history the female Lions would take top spot into the NWPL Finals series. Last year SU won bronze, the best ever performance in club history.
Coach Alicia Smith is well aware it’s what happens during the Finals Series that matters the most, “This year’s Finals series format is very cut-throat whereby all games are basically knockout. Whilst it’s great to finish in top spot, it’s a whole new ballgame now.”
In the last week, the Lions have beaten fierce Sydney rivals Cronulla (6-5) and UNSW-Wests (12-5) despite being without a couple of their star players due to illness. This week they play two tough games against the Drummoyne Devils who are vying for a Finals birth. SU will be without its five-strong contingent in the National team – captain Keesja Gofers, goalkeeper Lea Yanitsas, centre back Hannah Buckling, left-hander Iso Bishop and young driver Bronte Halligan. The Australian Stingers are in New Zealand for World League preliminaries.
The Lions men’s side beat Cronulla 16-7 and had a great 10-2 victory over the highly rated UNSW-Wests. They now have a record of 17-3 with two games to play. If the Johnno Cotterill led Lions can beat Drummoyne twice this week, they will also take the Southern Cross Trophy.
Cotterill said, “The win over Wests was outstanding but it will mean nothing if we don’t maintain our form for the Drummoyne games and then the Finals.”
Both teams winning the prestigious Southern Cross Trophy would be unprecedented.