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ASA East Region Academy Boys Inter-Regional Championship

East Region Boys achieved an excellent result in Division II of this year’s Academy Inter-Regional Championship at Liverpool on 26-27 January.  The team narrowly missed 2nd place in the group stage, then won a nail-biting penalty shoot-out to clinch 3rd behind the mighty London and North-West Ravens.  Tim Whitwham’s full report is below.

Congratulations to the team and coaches Tim Whitwham & Mike Chadwick, and many thanks to all the parents who supported them through training and at the Championship.  Many thanks also to the players and parents from across the Region who supported the squad coaching sessions and whose clubs will reap the benefit.

ASA East Region Academy Boys Inter-Regional Championship – Liverpool Jan 26/27th 2013 – Full Report

Training for this year’s competition, for players born in 1998 and later, started way back in July in an attempt to build on last year’s successes. Overall over 40 boys came to sessions from across the Region. As in life, only the strong survive with the final 13 being selected in Luton in December. As a barometer the training proved that there are plenty of young men playing the game and, with an average of 30 players per session, fantastic parental interest and support.

Our competition was made up of Wales, Scotland, North West Ravens and London. We opened against Scotland and were clearly the better side though our nerves created handling errors and poor shot selection which always allowed the scots to stay close. Having reached a 9-5 lead in the middle of the 3rd quarter we allowed Scotland to get within two by the start of the last period which turned out to be a tense goalless stalemate: East 9 Scotland 7.

Against North West Ravens we were two goals down before we started to play. From then on there was never more than one it with East gaining the lead only once at the start of the 4th quarter which the North West answered with two of their own: East 6 North West 7

Wales proved to be the turning point with the boys finally settling down and we played some excellent counter attacking polo although our finishing did not match up. At half time we led comfortably 6-0. Wales got their act together in the second half but not enough to affect the final result: East 10 Wales 5

Our last game of the first day was against the mighty London side who had been destroying their opposition. We continued our good play and matched them in the first quarter before superior swimming speed and size coupled with relentless pressure resulted in our worst defeat, though not necessarily our worst performance: East 3 London 20

Placed 3rd in the League meant that on Sunday East had two games to look forward to against our Celtic neighbours. Wales played much better from the off and we found it hard to get flowing. However, the boys showed resilience and better shooting to win comfortably: East 9 Wales 3

Scotland then beat Wales which made our last game the 3rd/4th play-off. Understandably everyone wanted to finish on a high. However, this was the 6th games in 24 hours and bodies quickly tired on both teams. East took a 4 goal lead at half time 6-2 which ought to have been enough but the Scots were not going to lie down so easily and as they crawled back we buckled a little though we were still winning by a goal as the bell went for the last 60 seconds. Exclusion! We were man down which we defended well though the shot from 6 metres skipped in by the post: East 6 Scotland 6

It should have been enough on goal difference but FINA demands a shoot-out so penalties it was. Fortunately we had no “Pyschos” in the team. The players, some clearly nervous, we asked to volunteer and 5 good men stepped forward.

Shot 1: East 1 Scotland (missed) 0
Shot 2: East 2 Scotland (shot saved) 0
Shot 3: East 3 Scotland (missed) 0

Game over and a very deserved and creditable 3rd making the East 98 boys the 8th best team in the country. James Warman was voted MVP for the East and was our top scorer. Cameron Baker deserves mention for his calm and determined captaincy of the side. Well done boys!

Team: Cameron Baker (Capt), Jake Gilbey, Michael Miller (GK) Alex Norcliffe, Jarryd Myburgh – Watford; James Warman, Peter Underwood Alec Humphries – Basildon; Sam Mackinder, Luca Del-Guidice – Colchester; Joseph Clark – Chelmsford; James Poole – Ipswich; Jake Rees-Bidder – Bedford Modern School.

Many thanks to Mike Chadwick (Basildon) for assisting with the training and being lead coach at the tournament.

Last, and perhaps at this age group most importantly, a huge thanks to all the parents who having travelled the Region to make training were there in Liverpool to support the team.

Tim Whitwham Jan 2013.