Today we saw at least 5 players make their debut for the club as part of the U13 game that we played against Exeter. Having only experienced intra-club games and training scrimmage nerves were high and there was uncertainty over how they would fair against Exeter. But they weren't alone out there. Alongside these first-timers were other equally as young but more experienced players. For them the novelty came from no longer being the youngest in the pool. No longer would they fly under the radar of the opposition. But they also handled the pressure excellently.
After a long warm-up they brought a high intensity to the start of the game. In the first few minutes both teams traded goals, the score was 3-3 midway through the first quarter. Bristol players kept their composure and focused on defence, from a few good steals they launched some counter-attacks and took a 5-3 lead at the end of the quarter. At the start of the second quarter Exeter came back strong and tied the game at 5-5. At this point payer inexperience could have costed us. But it didn't. Discipline was outstanding and calm heads prevailed moving the ball well and finding the free player. Bristol pushed on and took a narrow but convincing 9-8 lead at half time.
Bristol needed to focus on taking the space when they had the ball as well as not allowing opposing players a clear drive at goal, they needed to get "goal-side" when defending. Once the second half started the game was tied again... and once again Bristol pushed through and re-took the lead. This time, they never looked back. Constant changes in players keeping the intensity up allowed Bristol to showcase their quick transition game. Exeter started to get tired after having fought really hard up until that point. Bristol started to pull away and had a convincing 16-11 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
In the last quarter of the game Bristol kept the intensity with a strong pressing defence and quick counterattack when possible or occasionally a more structured attack, always finding the free player. The final scoreline was 22-13. This is a reflection of firstly the squad depth new players were able to provide, fitting right in and contributing in a very solid manner. Secondly, it reflects the leadership more experienced players were able to provide, making key interceptions, controlling the game when on the ball or scoring crucial goals when the team needed it the most.
Overall a great waterpolo game by a team that had never played together. Many thanks to Exeter for coming up and providing a tough but fair game which we hope they enjoyed as well! Also many thanks to all the volunteers involved today that made it possible. We look forward to organising another game in the future for these players to continue to progress and have fun.