St Andrews 1-5 Edinburgh (Women); St Andrews 4-9 Edinburgh (Men)
EUSWPC’s Water Polo first team travelled up to St. Andrews on Wednesday 16 November for a return match against their northern rivals, with victories for both the women and men at the end of two attritional matches.
The results see the men’s firsts maintaining their dominance over St. Andrews, whilst the women’s effort was vital in keeping Edinburgh at the top of the SSS League. The women had been frustrated by the close defeat of 10-8 earlier in the season and were out for revenge; the men were in a stronger position after their decisive 16-10 victory last time.
The girls were up first, and the game got off to a tense start with the two sides battling to make headway down the pool. The strength exerted by the St. Andrews side proved a formidable barrier for Edinburgh, but the girls were prepared for this and would not relent. The end of the first quarter saw only one goal apiece as both teams held their own. Edinburgh had the edge in the second quarter but going into the third quarter, at 2-1 to Edinburgh, it was still an uncomfortably close match with everything to play for.
St. Andrews had the advantage of being familiar with the small, narrow and shallow pool, which meant Edinburgh had to work even harder to make space and break St. Andrew’s defence. However by working together and dropping on the pit Edinburgh were able to claim the ball back with a number of effective steals. In the third quarter Edinburgh thus took control of the game; by using the full length of the pool the girls were able to create space and work their way through St. Andrews.
Going into the 4th quarter at 5-1 to Edinburgh, the girls had the score they needed to claim victory over St. Andrews and recover the goal difference from the previous match. Edinburgh showed superb defensive capability as the game came to a close, denying St. Andrews any last attempts on goal.
Edinburgh Coach Derek Docherty commented that the game was the lowest-scoring he has ever coached: showing not only how tough the game was, but revealing the extent of Edinburgh’s endurance. Moreover the goals that were scored showed the finesse that Edinburgh could exhibit even in the most difficult of matches. Captain Marlies Nicholls proved that accuracy overrides power, with two perfectly executed lobs, stunning St. Andrew’s goalkeeper.
The men’s game also proved to be a tough one. The clash between the two sides manifested itself in a number of one-on-one struggles between players, one of which resulted in Edinburgh’s Craig Meek getting wrapped for three majors. However Edinburgh’s strength and stamina ensured that St. Andrews would struggle to get past.
By dropping on the opposition, Edinburgh prevented St. Andrews from taking any close shots. However, lack of communication at times allowed St. Andrews to make a number of breaks throughout the match, which put immense pressure on Edinburgh’s goalkeeper; Bojan Donevski, had to show exceptional skill in answering these one-on-one shots.
Overall the team coped well under the conditions, playing unfamiliar formations due to the pool size in order to prevent the pit from being too crowded. A solid defence on the whole, and three goals a-piece from Nuno Oliveira, Rob Tate and captain Ed Grundy, took the final score to 9-4. As in the girls match, it was the 3rd quarter that proved decisive.