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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.