Watford Water Polo’s U17′s have made it through to this year’s ASA National Age Group Championships after finishing top of their group with two wins from two games.
Watford were drawn in group A along with reigning champions City of Manchester and City of Sheffield.
The team needed to win one of their two matches to progress to the finals weekend in late April but two wins would mean they avoided the winners from Group B in the semi-finals.
Watford opened the weekend with a game against City of Sheffield and raced into a five-goal lead as Hamish Hudson scored a hat-trick and Paul Botje bagged a brace.
In the second period Watford’s defence were superb and they scored a further five goals for a 10-0 half-time lead.
Hudson added another two goals to his tally and goals from Cami Baker, Adam Kohler and Jonny Walker rounded off a superb first half.
Watford continued to dominate in the second half and added another eight goals from Hudson (2), Sam Carling (2), Norcliffe, Botje and Shah.
Sheffield hit two late goals but it was too little too late and Watford had the vital win needed to make the finals weekend.
Watford’s second game was early on Sunday morning against City of Manchester, where victory for either side would mean they topped the group.
The game began with Botje opening the scoring for Watford after only 43 seconds but Manchester hit back to level 90 seconds later.
Watford soon regained the lead thanks to a lovely back shot from Hudson, and Botje scored his second of the quarter to give his side a 3-1 lead.
Three Manchester goals either side of the interval turned the game on its head but Watford weren’t going to lie down and another strike from Botje levelled the scores at 4-4 at half-time.
In the third period Manchester managed to open up a two-goal lead at 6-4 but Carling scored to reduce the deficit to 6-5.
With three minutes of the third period remaining further Watford pressure caused panic in the Manchester defence and three quick goals from Hudson (2) and Botje gave their side the lead at 8-6.
The final period opened with both sides trading goals in the opening three minutes as Hudson and Carling struck for Watford.
Manchester pulled a goal back but some solid defending meant Watford held out for a victory which will see them play Croydon in the first semi-final later this month.
Watford head coach Edi Brokovic said: “It was a great weekend for the club and the players.
“With this opening day win we were already in the final four but we wanted to beat Manchester.
“In a very tense game we showed again how good our defensive play is and we won against the champions.
“Now we are aiming to fight for top spot in finals which will be biggest success in Watford WP history.
“We are among a handful of clubs who solely relay on players and don’t draft in better players from others clubs to bolster their teams for this national competition.”
Anyone interested in trying out water polo can do so on a free one-month trail period at Watford. Visit www.watfordwaterpolo.co.uk for details.