Report Author: Lottie Ratledge

Game: Southampton Women vs Plymouth

Location: Plymouth Life Centre

Score: 4-14

Date: 26/02/23

Here at last! Southampton’s women’s final water polo match of the season (unbeknownst to them at the time) against Plymouth University in the National Trophy quarter-final! Tired from a match the day before but excited the upcoming game, the girls met on campus to being the long 3 hour drive down to Plymouth. The girl’s getaway was however delayed due to a hard night of partying the night before causing Katie to show up half an hour late. Silly fresher. Once away, the girls enjoyed a scenic tour along the coast before finally arriving at the pool, in plenty of time to scout out the other team and have a prep talk with Captain Katie Magill. After some admiring of the diving boards, a nail check and a quick warm up in a very chilly pool, the starting seven lined up on the wall awaiting the refs whistle.

Away we go! Despite Jess’ best effort Plymouth won the swim off and began displaying their speed as they zoomed towards the goal. They were, however, no match for Antonia – regardless of the massive goals, she effortlessly managed to save the shot. Now on the counter, Southampton took a shot of their own, which missed the goal and so the ball returned to Plymouth. After a bit more swimming up and down the pool, Plymouth decided they’d had enough and scored the first goal of the match. Undeterred, Southampton once again began the attack but a cheeky lob from Captain Katie was unfortunately saved by the goalie who took advantage of Plymouths speed and quickly passed the ball down the pool to score a second goal. After some quick subbing to get some fresh faces in the pool, the game resumed. However, two more goals were scored in quick succession by the home team before Katie had had enough and got one of the them a major to allow us with a chance to set up the well-practiced man-up. Several drownings later, Plymouth had scored two more goals due to our Captain being sent out for a reason no one could see. Plymouth scored their last goal of the quarter leaving the game 7-0. A quick talk from Katie quickly determined this would be a defensive game to stop the goal difference going any higher. Instructions were clear: full defence and no shots except from Katie and Rhia, despite these girl’s claiming the shots they’d taken had been awful.

The second quarter began with Soton losing the swim off but a some beautiful ball handing by Katie meant we once again had the chance to set up a man-up. Whilst not scoring here, Soton later got themselves on the score sheet with a lovely shot from Katie. An attack from Plymouth was quickly stopped by a lovely save from Antonia who managed to hang onto the ball despite being tackled by several Plymouth players. It was at this point we discovered that Plymouth’s plan was to quote “drown the two pit players (Katie and Rhia) and the goalie (Antonia)” as they were the only decent players. Rude. This was pointedly ignored by the ref who seemed rather happy to watch the drama unfold. An attack from Soton and a counter by Plymouth that end with Lucia getting sent out, leading to the second and last goal of the quater. With 3 minutes remaining, fresher Tilly earns herself a major, but forever reliable Antonia saves the man-down with ease. In the final 20s of the match, the Ref finally notices our downing pit players and gives Soton the man-up but unfortunately there was too little time as Katie makes a half pool shot just as the buzzer sounds, ending 8-1.

Much happier with the team than the first quarter but much more frustrated at the game, Captain Katie gives a rousing speech to Soton’s tired girls, who are not used to playing without a full 13. And with that the third quarter is underway. Plymouth once again gain possession but are stopped by Natalia who earns herself a foul in the process. This man-down end wells for Soton as Jasmine makes a lovely intercept, gifting the ball back to our goalie. The two Soton girls clearly trying to take the spotlight in their last game! Not a fan of this, Plymouth manage to sneak in the first goal of the quarter. Southampton girls were clearly spurred on by their Captains speech as the next 5 minutes of the match are taken up by some skilful defence and some stellar saves from Antonia. Still focused on defence, Soton’s attacks were limited, even more so by the ref deciding to give Katie her second major despite being on the attacking team! Someone needs to join our committee on their reffing course! Without their pillar, Soton let in the second goal of the quarter. The long journey and limited subs was clearly taking the toll on Southampton’s freshers as Iris earns two majors. One for swimming over her player, and another for not exiting the pool when the ref held up the wrong number. Counting to 5 can be very challenging so we understand the confusion. Even so, Soton blocks all incoming balls and the quater ends 10-1.

At this point, frustration towards the ref was really starting to show and so our captain subbed out for the first time – she had earned two majors for literally nothing, but surely she couldn’t earn a third from the bench. Although, we wouldn’t put it past this ref. Rhia and Antonia stepped up for a quick team talk, asking the girls to go full defence and avoid pit passes since our pit players were drowned and attacked with no consequences. The final quarter began. Plymouth quickly set the pace with a goal straight from the swim-off. Straight after, Lottie is sent out for her first major which results in Plymouth scoring a second goal and swiftly securing a third. It becomes evident that the ref won’t be calling any fouls in Soton’s favour, resulting in a deliberate elbow to Rhia’s head. Despite her dizziness, crying, and confusion – the ref decides to continue the match and makes Rhia swim an entire length of the pool to exit in the correct place. Her requests for an ice pack lead to the lifeguards filling a plastic glove with ice cubes instead, but she is swiftly taken to the medic’s room. Seemingly, Rhia had been the bad luck charm for this match as without her in the pool, Katie manages to send out a Plymouth player and score an expertly places penalty. This newfound confidence allows her to secure another goal immediately after. In retaliation for hurting our Vice-Pres, Soton get another Plymouth player sent out and the match finally ends 14-4. However, the drama does not end there! The ref proceeds to go and shout at Rhia whilst she is being checked for concussion, stating that the entire team pointing at her whilst she cries is not an adequate signal of her injury and therefore she is not allowed to say he didn’t do anything to help…

Congratulations to Southampton’s best ladies for a fabulous season, securing a place in the quarter finals of the National Trophy – one of the top 8 teams in the country, led by the ever reliable Captain Katie! This is an amazing result with all matches having included at least two freshers. The team has made such progress since semester one and are more than capable of winning the league next year! (Even though we will miss our leavers: Natalia, Jasmine and temporarily Georgia!)

Man of the Match: Natalia Tsouka and Jasmine Brown. Both girls secured a spot on the first team in their first year with the club and have since become reliable, consistent, and important members of the team. We really will miss them!

Dick of the Day:  The referee. We don’t normally like to criticise our refs this much, but making someone with a head injury swim a length and then yelling at them whilst they’re receiving medical attention is a step too far.

Names – Goals/Majors

Antonia Neild – 0/0

Tilly Phillips – 0/1

Katie Smith – 0/0

Jasmine Brown – 0/0

Rhia Perks – 0/0

Katie Magill – 4/2

Lucia Ciardo – 0/1

Lottie Ratledge – 0/1

Iris Bugnar – 0/2

Jess Grace – 0/0

Natalia Tsouka – 0/1


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