Individual accolades for Pat Hofman and Lachlan Nihell punctuated a great showing from the North West side at last week’s State CHS Boys Championships at Woy Woy.
Both were recognised for their strong performances with Nihill awarded the goalkeeper encouragement award and Hofman picking up the prestigious Bob Greenwood award for best allrounder of the carnival.
For both it was their last state carnival, as it was Isaac Moxon, Will Clinch, Hugh Maxey and Alex Taggart.
Taking on the side this year, manager Casey Kelly was very extremely proud of how they performed.
After a tough first day losing to the three sides that finished first, second and third, they defeated South Coast 7-4, Sydney South West 11-5, Sydney West 10-2 and Riverina 4-3 to earn a place in the semi-finals, where they came up against eventual champions Hunter.
Beaten 14-2, they then went down to Sydney East 15-2 in the bronze play-off.
Still finishing fourth was a huge achievement.
For a few of the side it was their first major water polo tournament. They also had the disadvantage of limited time together.
“Because we’ve only had a pool open for four weeks they only had three competition games before we went away,” Kelly said.
“It’s a massive deal for North West that we don’t have year round facilities.”
They also did it tough with only three on the bench, the likes of Hofman, Moxon and Ned Hoath not spending much time out of the water.
“Pat and Isaac were the team captains and led the team really well,” she said.
Both have been a part of the side since they were in Year 7 and had great tournaments.
Not that anyone didn’t, Kelly remarking that everyone did their job in the pool.
“They all worked together and the communication improved as the tournament went on,” she said.
Their ability to transition from defence to attack and vice versa was a strong aspect of their game as was their defence and their ability to get up and down the pool .
Fitness had a lot to do with that and Kelly noted the work Sean Hofman and Ron Surtees did with the side.
“They definitely assisted with their fitness and skills and drills,” she said.
One of the things she was most proud about was that they didn’t give up.
Hoath personified that and was adjudged by his peers as their most valuable player for the carnival.
“He just swam all day,” Kelly said.
“He’s only in Year 9 and for a smaller kid he gave it to them. He was in centre back and stole the ball a couple of times.”