LANCASTER 7-8 YORK
An epic Saturday night clash saw York’s men’s water polo team cap a successful night in the pool for the White Rose, edging a captivating encounter 8-7.
In a match that saw the momentum shift drastically between the two teams, York dug deep in one of the most hard-fought fixtures of the weekend to ensure UYSWC took home maximum points in water polo.
Despite having just seen their women’s team well beaten beforehand, the home crowd were in fine voice throughout and no doubt played a huge part in lifting the spirits of a Lancaster side who came in as underdogs.
Club president Joe Marshall admitted afterwards that York had expected to “walk all over” their opposition, and given the way York started it was easy to see why.
After a cagey opening spell, York demonstrated the merits of their patient, probing possession as Wen Zhe Lin found space to fire the visitors into the lead.
He should have doubled his tally shortly after, but was unable to beat the Lancaster keeper from close range.
Gabriel Cramer’s side did finish the first quarter with a 2-0 lead, courtesy of a thunderous effort from Matyas Molnar.
White Rose keeper Young Gawthorpe was being made to work at the other end, but a couple of fine saves were sufficient to keep Lancaster at bay, before Wen picked out Joe Ramage for a simple finish that handed York a commanding 3-0 lead.
That, however, was the cue for the match to really burst into life. A penalty handed Lancaster a way back into the game, and they followed that up with a blistering counter attack goal.
Knowing they could do with re-opening a two-goal cushion before half-time, York pressed forward and struck with 15 seconds left on the clock through Filippo Cocozza.
But a stunning quickfire response from the home side immediately cancelled that out, leaving the game finely balanced – 4-3 in York’s favour at the break.
Buoyed on by the raucous crowd that had created an intoxicating atmosphere, Lancaster continued to up their game and 4-3 quickly became 4-5 midway through the third quarter.
The Black and Gold were determined to wrestle back the momentum, and Marshall stepped up to provide an instant leveller and stem the relentless red tide.
With things perfectly set up for a blockbuster final eight minutes, York came out for the final quarter with another statement of defiance.
Boosted by a superb stop by Gawthorpe at one end, Cocozza put York back in front before Marshall grabbed his second to make it 7-5, spinning the goalkeeper and slotting calmly into the corner.
Having suffered through long spells of frantic end-to-end play, York set about restoring the patience that had served them so well early on.
Molnar was denied three times as they sought to seal the points, but Cocozza added the crucial eight goal that should have allowed York to relax in the final three minutes.
But the hosts were not about to go down without a fight, and with two seconds left to play they managed to bring themselves back to within one goal.
It was too little, too late though and the Black and Gold collected all eight points from an enthralling night of water polo.
Having seen his club complete a water polo double for the second year running, Marshall told Nouse, “I’ll be honest – we came in a little bit too cocky and expected to walk all over them, so they deserve a lot of credit for coming out of it pretty well.
“This season’s been a big step up from what we’ve traditionally been used to – we’ve played the tough games and tonight was another one of those. We had two people sent out so were down to one sub, but the final result just shows the composure we have.
“A lot of work has gone into today, it was a bit tense but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
York: Gawthorpe, Hayward, Ramage, Marshall, Cramer (C), Wen, Cocozza, Ball, Molnar, Edwards.