Hillcrest High School’s Emmerson Houghton will be doing much of her schoolwork poolside and in foreign locations over the next few months.
Emmerson, Year 13, has been selected as one of two schoolgirls along with Bernadette Doyle from Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s College in the senior women’s New Zealand water polo team to play in the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary next month.
Then in September Emmerson, Bernadette and Emmerson’s older sister Brogan are off to Volos, Greece with the New Zealand team for the FINA World Women’s Junior Water Polo Championships.
The Senior New Zealand team flies out in a fortnight, and naturally Emmerson is excited and a little nervous about the trip. “We head overseas to Hungary for four weeks and play in a pre-tournament called the Vodafone Cup,” she said.
Emmerson was selected after a series of trial and training camp weekends and on National League form as well. “I’m just really excited to be going and to train and play alongside all the senior girls who have so much experience to pass on and offer me.”
New Zealand will play 2016 Olympic champions USA, leading side Spain and South Africa in the preliminary round of the senior World Championships from July 16-20.
This will be Emmerson’s first trip to Europe, having played for the New Zealand Youth team that finished 10th of 15 teams at the FINA Youth Championships in Auckland last December and also played for the NZSS team in their tri-series in Auckland against Australia and South Africa in which the New Zealand Schoolgirls beat Australia to claim the Trans-Tasman shield for the third consecutive year.
At the same time, Emmerson’s Hillcrest High School teammate Libby Alsemgeest will also be representing a New Zealand side. Libby, Year 11, is also heading overseas on her first trip overseas with a national team. “I’m heading to Sydney at the start of July with the Born 2000 Girls team and against the NSW state side and the possibility of some international sides as well. I’m the youngest in my team and really looking forward to the trip.”
Like Emmerson, Libby is also the only player from Hamilton/Waikato in her squad.
The trio play for the table-topping Waitakere Blue Diamonds in the National League, which involves regularly making the two-hour commute up to Auckland to train and play.
Its semi-finals and finals weekend this Saturday and Saturday and Waitakere are hoping to take the title off defending champions Marist.
Emmerson is a centre back and driver. She is the competition’s third highest goal scorer leading into this coming weekend’s National League finals series, with 18 goals in nine games to her name. Last December she scored four goals in New Zealand’s 15-6 win over Australia and found the back of the net twice more in their 14-6 win over them.
Libby is a centre forward. “So I am the opposite to Emmerson,” said Libby, “she marks me when we are training so that helps me a lot as well.”
Libby is also the youngest participant in this year’s Women’s National League this year.
The pair and Emmerson’s older sister Brogan, two years out of Hillcrest High School, are flying the flag for their school and for the Waikato, neither of which are hotbeds of New Zealand water polo.
What’s their background in water polo?
Said Emmerson: “I’m from a big family and my older brothers used to play at school and my older brother was in New Zealand teams and we trained together and we’ve always been at the pool and I just kind of carried on.”
Said Libby: “I started playing when I was Year 7 and have just continued on ever since. Emmerson and Brogan have helped me out a lot and we do quite a bit and we have always been part of Hillcrest teams together.”
Emmerson and Brogan are also Libby’s Waikato Girls U16 coaches.
Emmerson and Libby are also in the Waikato-BoP U18 representative team, with Libby playing in the upcoming nationals while Emmerson heads to Hungary with the New Zealand squad.
Both Emmerson and Libby also play netball, but being selected in two New Zealand teams means Emmerson pointed out that she has had to put netball on the backburner this winter, while Libby will be in the Hillcrest team playing in the Upper North Island netball tournament later in the year,” said Libby.
Both the Boys and Girls NZSS Water Polo trophies are winging their way to Auckland this evening after national title wins this afternoon to Sacred Heart College and St Cuthbert’s College respectively.
In contrasting finals, Sacred Hear overwhelmed Bay of Plenty’s Aquinas College 8-2 in the Boys final and St Cuthbert’s edged Auckland rivals Diocesan School for Girls 9-8 in the Girls decider that followed at Wellington’s Kilbirnie Pool.
In winning the national titles, both schools have won triple silverware in recent weeks, the North Island, Auckland and now National Championships.
For St Cuthbert’s, it was double relief on the tournament’s final day, after they had edged out Mount Maunganui College 9-7 in a penalty shootout in their morning’s semi-final. Auckland Dio had defeated Kristin School 3-1 in their semi-final.
In the bronze medal matches, Rangitoto College finished third in the Boys by beating St Kentigern Colege 7-5 and Mount Maunganui College defeated Kristin School to take third in the Girls competition.
Matt Dell (Sacred Heart) and Bernadette Doyle (St Cuthbert’s) were the tournament MVPs.
The Boys tournament team was: Bronson Larsen (Sacred Heart), Gabe Orchard (Aquinas), Rowan Brown (Rangitoto), Josef Schuler (Aquinas), Hamish Sullivan (Sacred Heart), Ben Fleming (Saint Kent’s).
The Girls tournament team was: Bridget Layburn (Westlake Girls’ High School), Shinae Carrington (Mount Maunganui), Julia Kayes (Mount Maunganui), Morgan McDowall (Auckland Dio), Tai Nimo (St Cuthbert’s) and Caitlin Mary Parker Allen (St Cuthbert’s).
Sacred Heart accounted for Aquinas College in the Boys Final after making a fast start and then creating too much defensive pressure throughout the contest.
Sacred Heart made an early statement, with first quarter goals to Patrick Zatko, Bronsen Larsen and Nick Hermans and they led 3-0 after the opening five minutes.
The long left arm of Hermans almost made it 4-0 on the quarter-time buzzer but his long-range effort was pushed just wide.
Needing to score first in the second quarter, Aquinas did so with Hamish Low passing to Kiahl Horan who was able to send the ball past the clutches of outstanding keeper Dell. However, Sacred Heart hit back immediately with a decisive goal to Larsen, advancing their lead to 4-1 at halftime.
Again, Aquinas scored after the break, Low pouncing on a defensive error in front of the goal and calmly sending a lob shot through to make it 4-2.
The bartender, Josh Retter, served up a goal in reply and Sacred Heart re-established their three-goal buffer at three-quarter time.
Sacred Heart then pulled away in the final five minute period, Louis Ferigo putting in a back hander to make it 6-2 and then defensive pressure leading to two more goals at the end to Nick Paterson and Harry Finnigan.
Meanwhile, the Girls final was a fourth quarter thriller after scores had been locked up at 7-7 at three-quarter time.
St Cuthbert’s started a frantic final quarter with a goal to MVP Bernadette Doyle, following an exclusion to Dio’s Maddy Gault, one of three in the match for Dio that were to ultimately prove costly. But Dio struck back with a goal to Izzy Avis after some nice deception play and it was all square at 8-8.
St Cuthbert’s Caitlin Mary Parker Allen combined with goal scorer Tai Nimo to put the winning shot in the back of the net with time counting down. With 15 seconds to play, animated Dio coach Angela Winstanley-Smith called a last-ditch time-out. It almost worked but Avis’s shot was blocked on fulltime and St Cuthbert’s could start celebrating.
Earlier, Dio had established a two-goal buffer early in the third quarter, Gault providing a good tip on to Morgan McDowall and then great defence by Alice Leonard and Eleanor Spillane creating a turnover and a goal to Avis.
There had been a flurry of scoring early, with both sides sending three goals each into the back of the net in the first quarter, which could have been more if not for a couple of great saves at either end of the pool. Defences tightened up in the second quarter and Dio took a 5-4 into halftime but couldn’t prevent a stronger finish by the team in green.
Sacred Heart College are one win away from completing an Auckland/North Island/National title water polo treble after defeating St. Kentigern College on penalties in the semi-finals at the National Secondary Schools Champions at Kilbirnie Pool in Wellington this afternoon.
Sacred Heart will face Aquinas College from Tauranga in the decider after Aquinas eliminated defending champions Rangitoto College.
For the second time in the last fortnight, Sacred Heart and St. Kent’s caused their supporters heart palpitations as they fought out a typically gripping struggle.
Josh Retter opened the scoring for Sacred Heart when goalie Matt Dell lobbed the ball three-quarters of the pool to locate Retter unmarked.
St. Kent’s however led for much of the match. Ben Fleming converted a holding penalty to make it 1-1 at the first break and Matt Stirling’s reverse shot in congestion gave St. Kent’s a 2-1 advantage midway through the second quarter – a lead they held for almost half the match.
With 37 seconds left Retter jostled a holding penalty and tied the scores, but Ben Simpson had a chance to win it for St. Kent’s, riffling the ball into the post.
All five shooters converted their penalties in the first round of the shootout, but cruelly Fleming sent a missile wide of the target with St. Kent’s sixth shot. That left Retter, aptly nicknamed ‘the bar tender,’ the chance to deliver the winning toast.
Aquinas College reversed an early deficit to defeat Rangitoto College 8-6. Rangitoto surged ahead 4-1 with Sam Groom scoring two impressive goals, but Aquinas pegged it back to 5-5 at halftime, before leaping ahead by three. Gabe Orchard scored two goals for Aquinas.
The girls semi-finals are tomorrow morning at Huia Pool in Lower Hutt and will also see three Auckland schools and a Bay of Plenty contender vying for a place in the afternoon’s final at Kilbirnie Pool.
This afternoon’s quarter-finals saw Pool A winner Saint Cuthbert’s College defeat Rangitoto College 5-4 and Pool B winner Auckland Diocesan beat Baradene College 5-2.
The other two quarter-finals resulted in Kristin School beating Westlake Girls’ High School 5-1 and Mount Maunganui College overcome Carmel College 4-2.
Tomorrow morning’s top four games will see Saint Cuthbert’s and Mount Maunganui College clash at 9.20am and Dio and Kristin School clash at 10.15am.
Sacred Heart College boast the most successful boys’ water polo program in New Zealand. The Senior A team has won the National title three times in the last seven years and are the defending Auckland Champions.
The winning attitude is contagious according to Matthew Dell who pays tribute to the water polo academy at the college.
“We have sports institutes for select codes and water polo is one of them. I trialled in year six and was lucky enough to get in. We train three times a week and really stress the competitive and preparation side of sport. The boys have been together for a long time now and that has helped us build a strong, winning culture,” he acclaims.
Dell concedes he isn’t “the best swimmer,” so was an obvious choice for goal keeper. Specific training has helped Dell became an elite in his position at age-group level.
“I am a pretty slow swimmer so while the other boys do laps I stay in goal and do reflex exercises and leg strengthening to improve my flexibility and shot stopping,” Dell explains.
Dell was a member of the Marist club team who won the Under-14 Nationals and has toured Australia and Hawaii at school earning a national call up – following in the footsteps of two former Sacred Heart goal keepers.
“We have a reputation for producing good goal keepers so that has forced me to work hard. I became a starter in Year 12 and my highlight so far has been winning the Auckland title last year. We beat King’s in the final at Diocesan School. They have a grandstand by the pool and it was packed by nearly the whole school. To win in front of so many people was pretty surreal.” Dell says.
Sacred Heart leads the Auckland competition in 2017. They have won all seven games and have scored the most goals (74) and conceded the least (25). The next month will define their season. The North Island Championships are followed by the Auckland finals and the Nationals in Wellington in April. Sacred Heart have some unfinished business from 2016.
“We lost to St. Kent’s in the semi-finals at Nationals last year. That was the most disappointing sporting moment of my life. It was a low scoring game and we panicked a bit. It was sad for the Year 13’s too leave on such a low note.” Dell laments.
Dell expects St. Kent’s to be fierce rivals again along with defending National Champions Rangitoto College and a small school in Tauranga.
“Aquinas College have a real strong side. We don’t know a lot about them, but their results have been exceptional. There is always a school in Wellington who contents, but apart from Aquinas I don’t think there are many schools who will compete with the Auckland sides.” Dell believes.
Waterpolo Key Dates
March 29 to April 2: North Island Championships, Auckland
April 9: Auckland Senior A Final
April 18-21: National Championships, Wellington
New Zealand’s leading secondary school water polo players are in action over the next fortnight in the FINA World Women’s Youth (U18) Water Polo Championships and the Tri-Nations School Series (boys and girls) and Trans-Tasman Schoolboys Tournament.
The action starts tomorrow at the National Aquatic Centre at the AUT Millennium with the third FINA World Women’s Youth (U18) Water Polo Championships, with 11 of the 13 strong New Zealand squad having been at school this year.
World Women’s Youth (U18) Water Polo Championships
New Zealand squad (2016 schools in brackets):
Bernadette Doyle (St Cuthbert’s College)*
Emmerson Houghton (Hillcrest High School)*
Malia Josephson (St Cuthbert’s College)
Jessica Marsden (Kristin School)
Morgan McDowall (Westlake Girls’ High School)*
Emily Nicholson (Westlake Girls’ High School)
Caitlin Mary Parker Allen (St Cuthbert’s College)*
Nadia Pavlovich (Westlake Girls’ High School)
Emily Sanderson (Rangitoto College)
Alisha Winstanley (Westlake Girls’ High School)
Antonia Young St Cuthbert’s College)
*At school in 2017
What: World Women’s Youth (U18) Water Polo Championships
Where: National Aquatic Centre at the AUT Millennium, North Shore, Auckland
Teams: Fifteen teams, from Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. USA the defending champions
Format: Teams split into four groups for pool play, followed by crossover matches and then the final scheduled for 4.00pm on Sunday 18 December.
Coverage: The official tournament website is www.YWCAuckland16.com (all matches livestreamed).
New Zealand’s pool matches: NZ v South Africa 8.20pm Monday; NZ v Spain 8.00pm Tuesday; NZ v Russia 8.20pm Wednesday
Profile with New Zealand player Caitlin Mary Parker Allen (Source Stuff.co.nz):
There's nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to motivate a young athlete's sporting career.
That is how junior national water polo player Caitlin Mary Parker Allen began her sporting career in the pool three years ago.
At 16 years old she is one of the youngest members of the New Zealand team that will play in the World Women's Youth Water Polo Championship next week in Auckland. The year 11 St Cuthbert's College student won the U16 Outstanding Player award for two years running in the club nationals competition.
Next week, Allen hopes she can prove herself against her older teammates.
New Zealand is pooled with South Africa, Russia and Spain.
New Zealand take on South Africa in their first pool game on Monday.
Read the rest of the Stuff article about Caitlin here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/87387126/caitlin-allen-ready-to-prove-herself-in-the-pool
Tri-Nations Schools and Trans-Tasman Schoolboys series
Nine of the New Zealand U18 girls squad above, and others – Chantelle Conroy (St Mary's College), Elizabeth Gault (Diocesan School for Girls), Gabriella MacDonald (Saint Kentigern College) and Evie Mills (Wellington East Girls' College) - will also be in the New Zealand Schoolgirls team who playing in the Tri-Nations series against their Australian and South African counterparts next week.
First this week, the New Zealand Schoolboys and Schoolboys A teams play a Trans-Tasman Schoolboys Tournament at Sacred Heart College, ahead of the Tri-Nations tournament that is being played at the AUT Millennium.
The New Zealand Schoolboys and New Zealand Schoolboys A teams for the 2016 Tri-Nations Schools Series was announced in October.
The players are:
New Zealand Schoolboys
Jake Blundell (Sacred Heart College)
Sam Cameron (Auckland Grammar School)
Sam Casey (Sacred Heart College)
Ben Fleming (Saint Kentigern College)
Bae Fountain (Mount Maunganui College)
Calum de Jager (Auckland Grammar School)
Jake Lockwood (Rangitoto College)
Matt Morris (Rangitoto College)
Nick Paterson (Sacred Heart College)
Justin Pickering (VC, Mount Maunganui College)
Dominic Rankin-Chitar (Saint Kentigern College)
Josh de Reeper (Saint Patrick's College – Wellington)
Nick Stankovich (C, Auckland Grammar School)
New Zealand Schoolboys A
Connor Bougen (Mount Albert Grammar School)
Matt Dell (Sacred Heart College)
Ryan McEwen (Saint Kentigern College)
Ben Goodwin (King's College)
Nick Hermans (Sacred Heart College)
James Martin (Mount Albert Grammar School)
Adam Milne (Avondale College)
Jake Parker Allen (King's College)
Kane Smith (Mount Albert Grammar School)
Luke Smith (Burnside High School)
Ben Sterritt (Saint Kentigern College)
Matt Stirling (Saint Kentigern College)
Hamish Sullivan (Sacred Heart College)
Hamish Waddell (Auckland Grammar School)
Congratulations to the students selected in the Water Polo NZ Schoolboys squads for the upcoming series against Australia in December.
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New Zealand Schoolboys 2016
Jake Blundell - Sacred Heart College
Sam Cameron - Auckland Grammar School
Sam Casey - Sacred Heart College
Ben Fleming - Saint Kentigern College
Bae Fountain (GK) - Mount Maunganui College
Calum de Jager - Auckland Grammar School
Jake Lockwood - Rangitoto College
Matt Morris - Rangitoto College
Nick Paterson - Sacred Heart College
Justin Pickering (VC) - Mount Maunganui College
Dominic Rankin-Chitar - Saint Kentigern College
Josh de Reeper (GK) - Saint Patrick's College - Wellington
Nick Stankovich (C) - Auckland Grammar School
New Zealand Schoolboys A 2016
Connor Bougen - Mount Albert Grammar School
Matt Dell (GK) - Sacred Heart College
Ryan McEwen - Saint Kentigern
Ben Goodwin (GK) - King's College
Nick Hermans - Sacred Heart College
James Martin (GK) - Mount Albert Grammar School
Adam Milne - Avondale College
Jake Parker Allen - King's College
Kane Smith - Mount Albert Grammar School
Luke Smith - Burnside High School
Ben Sterritt - Saint Kentigern
Matt Stirling - Saint Kentigern
Hamish Sullivan - Sacred Heart College
Hamish Waddell - Auckland Grammar School
St. Cuthbert's College beat Westlake Girls' High School twice in the Auckland Water polo championships. Despite St. Cuthbert's previous successes it was Westlake who prevailed in yesterdays National Secondary Schools' decider in Wellington.
Westlake started strongly, scoring first through Nadia Pavlovich. Tate Renata responded in St. Cuthbert's next attack to equalise, but Morgan McDowall and Emily Nicholson put themselves on the scoresheet to make it 3-1 to Westlake.
Another Nicholson goal in the second quarter saw Westlake head three goals up. Seven exclusions and two timeouts in the quarter led to no goals, to see the score at 4-1 at the halftime break.
Westlake made their mark at the beginning of the third quarter to create a four-goal buffer, but a goal from St. Cuthbert's College's Kelsey Snelgar reduced the deficit to three. Rosa Clark made the margin just two for St. Cuth's to set the tone for the final quarter.
Nicholson scored her third for the match early in the final quarter for a 6-3 Westlake lead, but 21 seconds later Hibbert was excluded to let Malia Josephson find the back of the net for St. Cuthbert's for 6-4. A St. Cuth's comeback appeared to be on the way when left-hander Bernadette Doyle made the margin just one with 3:15 left on the clock. After an exclusion and a timeout for each team inside the final three minutes, the score remained at 6-5 for the last whistle.
This is the tenth time Westlake has won the Premier Girls title. Their previous successes were in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2007, 2014, 2015.
Most Valuable Player
Emily Nicholson - Westlake Girls High School
Most Outstanding Players
Nadia Pavlovich - Westlake Girls High School
Alisha Winstanley (GK) - Westlake Girls High School
Antonia Young (GK) - St. Cuthbert's College
Malia Josephson - St. Cuthbert's College
Hannah Ngare - Diocesan School for Girls
Rangitoto College have won their fourth New Zealand Secondary Schools Boys Water Polo title, after defeating St. Kentigern College 7-6 in a thrilling National final at the Wellington Regional Aquatics Centre on Tuesday. The top four was made up exclusively of Auckland schools and they didn't fail to entertain the capital crowd.
North Island Champions Auckland Grammar School were down 5-2 after three quarters, but rallied to force penalties against Rangitoto College.
In the final quarter Nick Stankoick commenced the comeback when he gently lobbed the ball over an-out-of-position Rangitoto goal-keeper.
Fraser Brodie burst three-quarters of the pool to set-up Hamish Waddell to make it 5-4 and when Calum de Jager pulled the trigger violently to level the scores the game was extended into a penalty shootout.
Rangitoto gained an early 4-2 advantage when Christopher Downie, the North Island Secondary Schools MVP, was dramatically denied. Grammar rallied to tie the scores when Hamish Waddell blasted a fierce shoot past the startled Rangitoto keeper, but the North Shore school kept their cool and eventually prevailed 7-6. Jack Brotherton was a pivotal figure for Rangitoto. He scored two goals and shot his penalty.
Defending National Champions Sacred Heart College appeared on course for the final in the second-quarter when Nick Paterson scored three goals in two minutes to reverse a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead.
However St. Kent's were well organised defensively and often forced Sacred Heart to shoot from wide on the wings. Paterson's impressive ability to out-manoeuvre defenders was restricted and Sacred Heart was hassled into uncharacteristic turnovers. St. Kent's showed superior composure and scored four unanswered goals to surge ahead 6-4. Ryan McEwen was a dominant figure scoring two goals and helping create another. Despite a late Sacred Heart rally, St. Kent's held their nerve to reach the final, a best ever result at Nationals for them.
With a second left in the third quarter, tournament MVP Dominic Chitar rifled the ball three-quarters of the pool past the Rangitoto keeper to make it 6-4. At this point the final appeared over as Chitar celebrated a second goal.
However Rangitoto tightened their defence in the last quarter and when the prolific Jack Brotherton scored his third goal with 82 seconds left the scores were tied at six each.
The penalty shootout was tic for tac, but when Jake Lockwood scored to make it 7-6 Rangitoto finally subdued a stubborn St. Kent's.
Rangitoto College NZSS Water Polo Nationals Results
Photo Credit to Mike Lewis
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