The England U17 girls’ water polo team celebrated winning the battle for bronze at the EU Nations Cup 2016 in Odense, Denmark.
The group matches
England’s first game of the tournament was on Friday against Malta, where a nervous start to the game saw them fall behind, and despite a strong comeback towards the end, the team eventually slipped to a narrow 13-10 loss.
The England girls bounced back in their second game of the day on Friday, in which they defeated the hosts Denmark in a confident 15-8 performance. England started strongly, winning the first quarter 5-2, with a double from Fleur Kennedy and goals from Emily Watkins, captain Emily Pilkington and Sasha Tinkler-Davies.
In the third quarter, goalkeeper Naya Patel (pictured right with Emily Pilkington) was in sensational form between the posts, while at the other end, England launched attack after attack, for another 5-2 quarter win.
There was no stopping our girls as Pilkington completed her well-deserved hat-trick, Kennedy and Watkins both scored their second of the game and Jordan Parsons also found the net to make it 12-6.
In the final period, Pilkington bagged her fourth of the afternoon, before Tinkler-Davies and Lauren Richardson completed the scoring to seal a memorable 15-8 victory.
The England women faced Wales next in their third and final group game. The game was close throughout, but another strong performance saw England take a 14-9 victory, securing second place in the group and lining them up with a semi-final game against South Africa.
The Semi Final
South Africa proved too strong for the English girls, who fell to a 16-3 (1-4, 1-4, 0-5, 1-3) loss in Odense.
Fleur Kennedy scored twice and Frances Holder also found the net for England, but the South Africans stormed to victory to get through to Sunday’s final against Czech Republic, while England set up a bronze medal game against Malta.
Battling for Bronze
The 13-strong squad finished the competition on a high note with an impressive 11-6 victory over Malta to see England win bronze at the EU Nations Cup 2016.
England bounced back from their semi-final defeat with a strong opening quarter against Malta, who had defeated them in the first game of the tournament.
Pilkington opened the scoring early before adding a second goal and Rebecca Lee saw England end the first quarter with a 3-1 lead.
After winning the second quarter swim-off, Kennedy scored twice to maintain England’s two goal lead going into halftime (6-4).
The team held their lead consistently throughout the third quarter (7-5) before ending on a high with a final goal from Tinkler-Davies sealing an 11-6 final score and the third place on the podium.
Sharp shooter Kennedy added to the team's accomplishments, finishing fifth on the tournament's top goal scorers' list, scoring a whopping 18 goals in the team's five games.