Drummoyne Devils defeated Sydney University Lions 11-10 in a gripping gold medal end to the 2024 Australian Waterpolo League season at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre on Sunday.

The result was in the balance until the final seconds, with the Lions pressuring for an equaliser. The game was tied at 2-all after the first quarter, while the Devils edged ahead 6-5 at the main break and clung to an 8-7 lead at three-quarter time. The final quarter was a nail-biter with each side finding the net three times and the Devils maintaining their one goal advantage.

Tyler Martin and Lazar Pasuljevic each scored three for the winners, with other goals coming from Keenan Marsden (2), Tristan Glanznig, Guillem Urzainqui and Aidan Roach, while Chaz Poot bagged four the the Lions, with William Miller (2), Zac Izzard, Matt Small and Nick Hallam also finding the net. Bae Fountain, a New Zealand representative keeper now with the Lions, made 12 saves while his counterpart Laurence Barker made 10.

Having finished silver medallists five times, it was Drummoyne’s first Australian title. The Devils won 19 of 20 games through the season proper to claim the minor premiership. They then defeated UTS Balmain Tigers 13-8 in their semi-final to earn grand final berth. Sydney University Lions finished third on the ladder with 16 wins, with two of their losses coming in the last round road trip to Melbourne. They defeated UWA Torpedoes 13-8 in the elimination-final, backed that up with a 14-11 win over the ACU Cronulla Sharks in the quarter-final, and earned a grand final berth with an 11-7 result over UTS Balmain Tigers in their semi-final.

Drummoyne Devils and Aussie Sharks captain Blake Edwards was impressed by the maturity his team showed in the dying seconds of the game. “To the guys credit, they held their calm and I thought (goalie) Laurence Barker was just phenomenal in the maturity he showed in that moment and how calm he was, it was just huge,” he told Water Polo Australia.

“It’s a phenomenal achievement, and for the club it means so much. We’ve had some tough years coming really close in a similar situation, and to finally achieve that milestone it just means the world. It really is a community effort, from the last volunteer to the last man on the roster, everyone contributed in some way to achieve this and I’m overwhelmed with joy that we managed to do it,” he said.

In the women’s gold medal match, Griffith University Queensland Thunder continued their winning run to take out their third Australian Waterpolo League title. With a star studded line-up including seven members of the Aussie Stingers Olympic squad, they accounted for Fremantle Marlins 13-9 in the gold medal decider.

Defending premiers, Sydney University Lions made it to the the elimination final where they were defeated 11-8 by UWA Torpedoes. They then lost 15-14 to Fremantle Marlins in their quarter-final in a disappointing end to the season.

On the good news front, SUWPC members performed well at the recent NSW Junior Championships, claiming gold in the M18 and bronze in the M16 finals and silver in the W16 and bronze in the W18 finals.