It was a day of upsets and true battles as the 2017 National Water Polo League delivered plenty of red hot action for fans at the new venue Pymble Ladies College.

Sydney Uni Lions Women’s finished the season unbeaten, after a penalty shoot out against the Fremantle Marlins delivered a 12-11 win for the defending champions.

From the outset it was looking like the game would come down to the wire, with never more than one goal the difference in it throughout.

Scores were locked 8-8 with a minute and half to go and while both sides were given the opportunity to seal the title, the game went into a penalty shoot out.

Lions Captain Keeja Gofers admitted the nerves started to kick in a bit but they were able to compose the side enough to claim the win.

“It was such a hard fought game and the Marlins came back to us every time. There was some serious nerves coming into penalty shoot out,” said Gofers.

For her co-captain Lea Yanitsas in goals, the pressure was intensified even more, but she admitted that’s where experience kicks in.

“I have a strategy to handle the nerves in a penalty shoot out, and that strategy really helps me.

“The young girls in our team have done everything we asked of them this year they have the pride of Lions, all season they have stepped up.

Led by Olympians Alicia Smith and Debbie Watson, the Lions perfect record throughout the 2017 season is one that Smith admits comes down to culture.

“I put our success over the last few years down to giving the girls a balance between water polo and life and not take it all too serious. The last thing I always say to our players is to have fun!

“The Juniors have been our team this year. The Olympians have done a great job in doing what they do and mentoring the Juniors – it has been a real team effort,” said Smith.

Sydney Uni Lions claim back to back NWPL title. Photo by Paul Seiser/SPA Images

Sydney Uni Lions claim back to back NWPL title.
Photo by Paul Seiser/SPA Images


Full time: LIONS 12 MARLINS 11

Qtr Time scores (LIONS-MARLINS) 3-3, 4-3, 6-5, 8-8

Penalty Shoot Out (LIONS-MARLINS) 4-3


LIONS Goal Keeper: Lea Yanitsas


MARLINS Goal Keeper: Lilian Hedges

Bronze Medal Game

The bronze medal game delivered a Queensland grudge match, with the Queensland Breakers taking on Brisbane Barracudas.

The Breakers delivered a remarkable 2017 season, after finishing 10th in 2016 they rounded out the season second on the ladder.  Despite a great season, thanks to the return of Coach/Captain Bron Knox (triple Olympian), the young side weren’t able to execute come Finals, finishing fourth.

But it was Barracudas that once again finished on the podium, this time with the bronze medal after winning the penalty shoot out against the Breakers, 10-9.

NWPL Awards

Peter Kerr Cup – Club Champion – Sydney University Lions

Southern Cross Trophy – Minor Premiers – Sydney University Lions

Debbie Watson Medal MVP Season – Rowena Webster, ACU Cronulla Sharks

Pat Jones Medal MVP Finals – Madeline Quinn, Fremantle Marlins

All Star Team*:

Goal keeper: Tyler Baillie (Queensland Breakers)

Field Players:

Rowena Webster (ACU Cronulla Sharks)

Mata Reenio (UTS Balmain Tigers)

Anni Espar (Sydney University Lions)

Bree Appel (Drummoyne Devils)

Zoe Arancini (Fremantle Marlins)

Bronte Cotenso (Brisbane Barracudas)

* as voted on by the delegates after every match during the season.