by Dasha Kuprienko
Wintec Journalism student
Aquinas College defended their title and are waterpolo champions once again at the NZCT AIMS Games water polo.
The Tauranga-based team, competing alongside 8000 other athletes at the annual intermediate-aged tournament, avenged a pool-play defeat by toppling Auckland’s St Kentigerns 8-7 in an absorbing final.
Aquinas captain Theo Bos expected a tough final game and so it proved.
“I’m really happy that we came through, because originally we lost to them.”
Aquinas targeted St Kentigern’s captain Will Bason, one of the stars of the tournament, and coach Brendon said the strategy paid off.
“I wanted him tired,” Horan said. “I said to the boys we are swimming him up and down the pool.”
St Kentigerns led 5-3 at halftime but a huge third-quarter saw Aquinas put five goals past their opponents.
Leading 8-6 in the last quarter, they withstood a late surge from St Kentigerns to take the title.
Meanwhile, Diocesan School girls are the NZCT AIMS Games waterpolo champions after a 3-2 win over Mount Maunganui.
Diocesan School’s coach Angie Winstanley-Smith said the players were very nervous all morning before the finals but relaxed a bit more at the game.
“My girls were really resilient and they trained really hard – although they thins a bit later then my heart would have enjoyed.,” she said. “Hats off to the Mount girls because they are such competitors and really tough.”
Captain Matilda Foley said it was one of the hardest games she has played.
“It was really difficult – they shoot from anywhere and you always have to be ready,” she said. “It was quite rough.”
Foley admits gold medal was their goal for this year’s Games.
The gold-medalists indicated they will be coming next year to defend their title.
Mount Maunganui coach Shinae Carrington said: “We knew it was going to be a tough game, because four of our girls are injured.”
Although some of their main players were injured, they still managed to push their rivals hard in the final.
Anchor Open Division Water Polo Tournament Team: Connor Farrell (Aquinas College), Zane MacKay (Aquinas College), Theo Bos (Aquinas College), Jacob Stubbing (John Paul College), Dennis Yang (Kristin School), Lucia Doak (Kristin School), Lucy Mano (Mount Maunganui Intermediate), Ra-Eez Warley (Murray’s Bay Intermediate), Joshua Whittaker (Northcross Intermediate), Teague De Jager (Saint Kentigern Boys’ School), Will Bason / MVP (Saint Kentigern Boys’ School)
Anchor Girls Division Water Polo Tournament Team: Prudence Fowler (Baradene College), Claudia Avis( Diocesan School for Girls), Matilda Foley( Diocesan School for Girls), Ashleigh Keach ( Mount Maunganui Intermediate), Maddi Culpan (Mount Maunganui Intermediate), Maddie Gault/ MVP (Diocesan School for Girls)