Mid Sussex Marlins Ladies water polo team made a bright start to the new national league campaign, returning from the first round of matches at Ponds Forge pool, Sheffield, with 2 wins from 2 games.
The current Marlins squad is the youngest for many years, following the retirement of several senior players at the end of last season including long term captain, Charlotte Bates. 3 girls -Tamsin Sciortino, Cecily(Lily) Turner & Rachel Moore - are making their national league debut this year. Not surprisingly, with so many personnel changes, the team appeared ring rusty to begin with. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see them create hatfuls of chances in both games and with better finishing the scorelines would have been much heavier and better reflected the control Marlins exercised. Coach, Tony Noble, was particularly pleased with the strong all round team performance. This was demonstrated with seven players appearing on the scoresheet and by Marlins’ strong bench which allowed him to rotate players and maintain a high tempo with those players in the water.
The opening match against Tyldsley began as a tense affair as Marlins struggled to find their rhythm. At the half way stage the scores were tied at 4-4. Marlins defence was tight and improved with each passing quarter, leaving opposing teams with little opportunity to manoeuvre around them. When an opposition shot was taken, Amy Styles pulled off some impressive saves in goal. Superior alertness in the water allowed Lara Partridge, Eve Tidy and Lauren Hand to steal the ball from opposing players- no mean achievement at this level.
Marlins dominated the 3rd quarter as their opponents tired, registering 6 goals without reply – including a national league debut goal from a delighted 14 year old Lily Turner. With the game effectively won, Marlins comfortably controlled the game in the final quarter to run out 11-7 winners.
Danica Brazier (dubbed ‘Deadly Danica’ by the British Water Polo League news) was the top scorer for Marlins- scoring 4. Other goal scorers were Isobel Bates, Gemma Deacon, , Grace Walker, Abby Rocky and captain, Lucy Deacon.
Marlins were equally dominant in their second match against Liverpool Liver Birds, although the game followed a different pattern. This time Marlins started with a bang – quickly running up a 5-1 lead in the first quarter. This allowed Tony Noble the luxury of rotating his players to keep them fresh for the remainder of the game, with Marlins eventually winning 9-4. Dani Brazier again top scored with 6 goals with Gemma & Lucy Deacon and Izzy Bates rounding off the scoring.
The all-round strength of Marlins squad with a blend of youth, experience and quality (Dani & Lara are both current members of the GB junior squad), and numerous goal scorers means that their opponents will always have their hands full.
Marlins head off for the second round at Marlborough next weekend leading the early season table. They have 3 fixtures, including tough matches against London Otter and Manchester Comets who are currently placed second and third.
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