Four goals by Nora Benko helped our third team, Penguin Rockhoppers, defeat Invicta 8-7 in the end-of-season play-off at Walsall on Sunday 30 January, securing promotion to the Third Division.
Invicta, seventh in Division Three this season, were level at 3-3 after two quarters but Penguin grabbed control in the third, taking a 7-4 lead. Towards the end, Invicta rallied again but missed a couple of chances and will drop to the fourth tier next season. Laura Hues (2) and Liz Norcroft (2) were the other Penguin scorers.
Also enjoying success in Walsall, our second team, Penguin Kings, will remain in Division Two next season after narrowly surviving a challenge from Division Three runners-up Carlisle.
In a physical match we led from the start with goals from El Thompson forcing Carlisle to play a drop defence whilst our own defence was in top form. We eased into a 5-2 lead after two quarters and were looking comfortable. But in the second half many of our shots went frantically astray and our determined opposition fought back to cut the lead to a single goal early in the final period. The match went to a nail-biting finish when Carlisle levelled with less than two minutes remaining. However our defence held firm, even during a tense man-down, and the final score of 5-5 was enough to hold our place in the division.
This weekend also saw our first team (Penguin Emperors) playing their final matches of the League season against Manchester and Liverpool. With most of the team either ill or still recovering from a virus picked up during our visit to Hungary last weekend for the LEN Trophy, we only managed to scrape together 8 players. And we were facing the two best teams in the League so we knew we were up against it.
We lost both games but we had great team work throughout, and with only one sub we did well to stay the duration.
This means Penguin will enter next year’s British Water Polo League season with teams in the first, second and thrid divisions. Well done girls!
Penguin Emperors’ next weekend away will be the British Championships on the 19-20 February in Manchester.