The first round of the women’s water polo Euro League took place over the weekend, with four group tournaments held across Europe. London club Otter were competing in Porto, Portugal, whilst British left-hander Ciara Gibson-Byrne headed to Lille, France.
Ciara to the Quarters
British Olympic superstar Ciara, currently living and studying in Barcelona, was playing for her Spanish club, CN Mataro in Group D. They fell to local rivals CN Sabadell, but then went on to win 12-7 against the home team Lille Université Club Natation and bagged a second victory in a close-fought 10-6 thriller against Italian team Messina in which Ciara scored a hat-trick, earning the team a coveted spot in the Euro League quarter finals.
“The team is ecstatic after this achievement. We were in such a tough group, with the league leaders from Spain, Italy and France, so had to be at our best in every game.”
Following the realisation that the team had made it to the top eight in Europe, an overjoyed Ciara commented, “The team is ecstatic after this achievement. We were in such a tough group, with the league leaders from Spain, Italy and France, so had to be at our best in every game.”
It’s an historic result for the team, who will now face a huge challenge after being drawn to face UVSE Budapest both at home in Barcelona on 17 February and away in Hungary on 27 February.
Otter’s tough test
London Otter faced stiff competition in Group C, dubbed ‘the group of death’. The team faced Greek powerhouses Olympicaos and Vouliagmeni, last year’s champions and runners-up in the competition, as well as Italian team Padova and the hosts, Clube Fluvial Portuense.
Despite some strong performances and goals against the top teams, Otter came away from the tough group without a win, so will now focus on aiming for two victories on the final weekend of the domestic Super 5s competition on 13 and 14 February.