On the weekend of the 7 and 8 May, the University of Nottingham Canoe Polo club competed in the BUCS Canoe Polo Championship. The championships were hosted at the nearby National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, and the club entered a men's, women's and B team in the relevant competitions. Our men's team came into the championships as the reigning champions having claimed the title last year with a 3-1 win against Swansea.
The opening day of competition began with our women's teams first group game against Southampton with the team putting up a strong fight, but ultimately losing by a scoreline of 4-1. However, the group bounced back from that initial disappointment by winning their following three group matches, ending Saturday in second place in the initial group phase and qualifying for the quarter-finals. The University of Nottingham men's team also reached the next stage of the competition, cruising through the group stages on Saturday by beating Birmingham and Leeds to set themselves up brilliantly for the knockout stages, whilst our B team were narrowly defeated by Cardiff in their first game of the day but bounced back with dominating victories against Bath and Sheffield Hallam to also qualify, and finish second in their group.
Moving into Sunday, all three #GreenandGold teams started their day with their respective quarter-finals. Up first was the women's team who faced a gruelling match against Bath, and unfortunately lost 3-1. Another close run contest saw our B team record a narrow 2-1 victory against Oxford to reach the semi finals, whilst the men's team cruised through their quarter final as they dominated Cardiff with an 8-2 victory. In an effort to reach their final, the B team were facing a familiar foe in Cardiff and were hoping to reverse their loss from the group. Unfortunately the stars did not align on the day for the team, and despite a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Nathan Hart, Cardiff finished on top scoring the golden goal - once again edging the University of Nottingham by a solitary strike. In the Men's semi-final it would be one of the teams long standing rivals in Southampton who stood between them and the final. The team from the south coast proved to be no match for the #GreenandGold who cemented their place in consecutive BUCS finals with a comprehensive 5-2 win.
Before the showpiece final, Nottingham's women's team defeated Swansea 3-1 to reach the playoff for fifth position which they unfortunately lost 4-0 against Sheffield, finishing the weekend in a very respectable sixth place. The B team then had their chance to take home the bronze in their playoff game against Swansea B, and a brilliant performance from the squad resulted in a 6-0 victory, and a handful of bronze medals for our athletes. All of the women's team will be returning to the club next year, providing great positivity for what they can go on and achieve from this success.
In the culmination of the club's weekend, the championships finished with the men's team final in which the University of Nottingham would face a Swansea team in a re-match of the 2021 championship final. Two early goals from the University of Nottingham gave the team a 2-0 lead, allowing us to take early control of the game against a tough team. Alternate goals from each side kept the contest on a knife edge with both teams on their toes, but it would be the University of Nottingham who would eventually come out victorious, winning the closely fought final 5-4 and becoming back-to-back BUCS Champions!
Following the culmination of the event and the University of Nottingham's success, coach Jess Harding had the following to say:
"I am immensely proud of the canoe polo club as a whole. Winning gold and the BUCS championship for the second year running is a huge achievement and the players should be proud of all the hard work they have put in over the last year. The women’s team is relatively new and I had aimed for them to come top ten, so for them to place sixth was a fantastic result. The men's B team also medalling again shows us that they are hot on the heels of the A team, but the highlight of the weekend was definitely the men's final. The team were very professional and controlled, elevating their tactics to such a high standard which enabled them to come out on top. A truly fantastic performance from all of our squads."
This was added to by club president Jonathan Lowe;
"The weekend saw great spirit within our University of Nottingham team. Winning the open league is credit to the dedication from our Coach Jess and the team as whole. The ladies had a strong weekend with only 5 players, but they know where they need to improve and will be back next year with a fighting spirit. The B team should be very proud of their performances, and there was a strong club community on both days which lead to a very enjoyable weekend!"
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Posted on Friday 13th May 2022