Tamworth High’s under 15 girls survived a late scare to claim the school’s first state water polo knockout medal for a number of years at Raymond Terrace on Tuesday.
The Sean Hofman-coached side pipped Port Hacking 3-2 in a nail-biting third/fourth play-off to annex a bronze medal.
After going down to Lambton 8-4, they then beat Alstonville (6-1) and East Hills (11-1) to finish second in their pool and secure a spot in the semi-finals.
Pitted against eventual champions McKellar, the Tamworth girls held their own for the first three-quarters, the score blowing out in the final quarter to 11-4.
Hofman conceded he wasn’t sure how much fuel the girls would have left after that game for the play-off.
“It was a physical game and every girl in the pool worked hard,” he said.
Fortunately they had enough, with the game going down to the wire.
Mikalya Gross converted a 5m after a strong inside drive from Lucy Hofman had drawn the penalty, to put THS ahead 3-2.
There were some nervous times as they tried to hold onto that. They looked like they might have done enough when with 10 seconds to go and Port Hacking attacking they got a steal. But in attempting to get the ball out of their half they found Port Hacking’s best player.
With 1.4secs on the clock she launched from half-way, but much to the relief of the THS players and supporters it “sailed just past the post”.
Hofman said it was a great effort from the girls.
“We had a range of skills levels in the side.
“We had girls that hadn’t played much before and some junior girls that were quite strong,” he said.
But they melded together well and were well led by (Lucy) Hofman and Gross.
Their positive attitude really helped the junior girls have a lot more confidence in what they did, he said.
Playing in her last campaign with the under 15s, Hofman had a fantastic tournament. Prominent in attack, she was also strong in defence and notably against McKellar outplayed a much bigger, stronger player.
But “they all did very well”, (Sean) Hofman said.