Sydney University Lions Women’s Water Polo team showed their true fighting qualities with a nail-biting 12-11 win on penalties over Fremantle Marlins in the NWPL grand final at PLC Pymble Aquatic Centre on Saturday.

The female Lions added the National Water Polo League title to the Southern Cross Trophy they had earlier collected as minor premiers for the 2016-17 season.

They also had one hand on the Peter Kerr Trophy for the for the best combined men’s and women’s club in the NWPL. (Sydney University’s men’s team also finished minor premiers but lost the grand final 6-5 to the UNSW-Wests Magpies.)

Sydney University’s female Lions kicked out to a 2-0 lead but let that slip to trail 3-2 before managing to level 3-3 at quarter time.

The mood on both sides was nervous and the play showed that with the Lions managing only three shots in the first period, converting all of them.

An Anni Espar penalty was the only score of a tight second period and the Marlins muscled-up to keep the third quarter at 2-2.

The tension was evident in the last quarter with Fremantle levelling with a late strike from outside. It was 8-8 after regulation time penalties ensued.

Each team converted their first three shots before Lions goalkeeper Lea Yanitsas made a welcome save. The Lions missed the potential match-winner, but the final Fremantle shooter missed, giving Sydney University the title.

Dual Spanish Olympian Anni Espar was named as Lions representative in the NWPL All-Star team.

Sydney University is also well represented in the new-look Australian Stingers squad, with Yanitsas, Keesja Gofers, Isobel Bishop, Hannah Buckling and rookies Brooke Dickie and Tilly Kearns named in the squad.

In what would end up being a cruel way to finish the day the Sydney University men’s side were narrowly defeated in their championship match against UNSW-Wests Magpies.

The day was meant to be history making with the Lions men’s team chasing an unprecedented men’s-women’s double but they fell at the final hurdle losing 6-5 to Wests after falling into foul trouble early in a gripping final.

The Lions did win the Southern Cross Trophy for men’s minor premiers for the third straight year. It’s the first time in NWPL history the men’s and women’s minor premiership trophies have been won by the same club.

Olympian Johnno Cotterill was named in the men’s NWPL All Star team.

Sydney University Water Polo Club Operations Manager Ian Trent said it has been a season to remember in the NWPL and on the international front.

He said there are plenty of people to thank, including Women’s Head Coach Alicia Smith, Men’s Head Coach Dusan Krstic, Women’s Club President Simon Lewis and Men’s Club President Antony Green.


National Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Leagues – Grand Finals

Women: Sydney Uni Lions 12 (Keesja Gofers 3, Anni Espar 2, Isobel Bishop 2, Danielle Morrissey, Sophie Hodgson, Madeline Rosenthal goals) defeated Fremantle Marlins 11 (Glencora McGhie 4, Madeline Quinn 3, Zoe Arancini 2, Pia Rodgers, Lauren Martin goals) in a shoot-out, at Pymble Ladies College Aquatic Centre on Saturday.

Men: UNSW-Wests Magpies 6 (Richard Campbell 4, Jarrod Gilchrist 2) defeated Sydney University Lions 5 (Jeremy Davie 2, Tom Kearns, Michael Rosenthal, Chris Dyson goals) at Pymble Ladies College Aquatic Centre on Saturday.