Defending Champions know last year counts for nothing

Ahead of this weekend’s 2018 OVO Australian Waterpolo League Finals Series, defending premiers Sydney University Lions women and UNSW Wests Magpies, are aiming to defend their 2017 titles.

After finishing fourth in the 2018 regular season, Lions captain and Rio Olympian Keesja Gofers says her team will be taking it one game at a time.

“We are definitely proud of the fact we have won two years in a row and it means we have finals experience.

“But we can’t focus on what has happened before or what might happen in the future, we need to win on Friday first.

The Lions secret weapon may lie within their juniors.

“We have had a few injuries through the season which meant our juniors got a lot of game time this season which is good for this weekend and our long-term development.

“People think we might not be contenders but with our strong juniors and the possibility of three games we can use that depth,” said Gofers.

Which team do Lions most fear?

“The top two teams (Killer Whales and Devils) have been the most consistent and we’ve had close games with both teams so they’re not unbeatable.

“But all the other teams could be a dark horse too and come away with the win because there are quality players everywhere, it is about who is most focused on the day,” she said.

As defending men’s champions, UNSW Wests Magpies finished fifth on the table and will play on day one of the Finals Series against ACU Cronulla Sharks.

Both teams played out a dramatic eleven all draw in round two before the Magpies got a 10-5 win at the Sharks home pool.

Head coach Andrew Yanitsas knows what it takes to win a finals series and has been urging his team to execute fundamental water polo skills.

“At training this week, we have just been working through the basics and tactics for the game.

“We are hoping to play two to three days of finals and we are planning accordingly,” he said.

Yanitsas believes their 2017 title counts for nothing this weekend.

“Defending champions doesn’t mean anything, any team can win if they are in the finals and everybody always shows up when finals come around.

“We have five to six new players that were not involved last year so there is a completely new motivation to win the title this year,” he said.

Be there when Australia’s best water polo players complete at the OVO Australian Waterpolo League Finals Series kick from this Friday at Sydney Olympic Park.

Check out our complete guide to the OVO AWL Finals Series including tickets and OVOPlay live stream details – click here.