Exeter’s Under 17’s Water Polo Team were written off by larger Clubs competing in the 2013 National Championships at the start of the year, and managed to scrape through the preliminary rounds of the Championships coming fourth in their group and proceeding to the Quarterfinals held in February.
Exeter dominated the first quarter of the deciding match against Croydon with the teams left winger Luke Harris getting two early goals. This was then followed by goals from Sam Alberici and powerful left-hander Kamz Powell, to which Croydon could only respond with one goal. The key player in the match was Exeter’s second choice left hander Rob Squires who surprised the opposition, his own team and coaches in finding the back of the net of 5 occasions to help Exeter take the match 11-6, and qualify for a top 4 spot within the UK.
The Team then travelled to Manchester at the end of April to play Manchester in the Semi-Final, the winner would take on either Lancaster (current Champions) or Birmingham. Manchester have 11 of their 13 players who participate in Great Britain training, Exeter in contrast had only 3 and were considered surprise qualifiers with no chance of beating Manchester who had won all previous matches this year by a margin of at least 10 goals. In true plucky spirit Exeter went ahead 2 goals to nil, and the Manchester Aquatic Centre was silent after the second goal. At half time the teams were even, and goal-keeper Henry Redman had played out of his skin to keep Exeter in contention. Despite a hard fought second half Exeter lost 14-8 – the narrowest margin recorded against the eventual Champions in 2013. In the 3rd / 4th play-off against Lancaster, Exeter’s central defender Matt Potter played the game of his life marking Lancaster’s centre forward out of the game. This led to a 14-12 victory and Exeter getting the bronze medals they truly deserved.
Exeter’s Coach James Baker noted ‘…the result against Manchester was the highlight for me – Manchester had 13 hours of training together in the week before the finals. Constraints on pool time meant that we had 1.5 hours – the lads have responded to the coaching staff and performed admirably…’.