Lady Broncos, Hawks win the 2018 Alamo Cup

The month of September promises to bring excitement, disappointment, drama, and exhilaration to the Northside Aquatics Center, specifically to the outdoor pool as the Water Polo season unfolds.

This year the water polo season did not disappoint.   A normal water polo season spans over the month of September with three weeks of tournament games for teams to earn their seeding in the coveted Alamo Cup.

Mother Nature created disappointment and drama this 2018 season as tournament officials had to cancel one weekend due to weather. Tournament organizers also built in a 4-hour rain delay creating a new format for the tournament. This included holding the championship games and the third-place games simultaneously.

Although I missed watching the championship games in the full court, the abbreviated format added to the excitement and atmosphere of the venue as four teams battled each other for victory.

If you have not attended a water polo match, I encourage you to make the trip to the Northside Aquatics Center next September. You will not be disappointed. These young athletes must swim around the court, using freestyle or backstroke to position themselves to assist their team with offense or defense.

However, this swimming is normally accomplished while carrying one or more opponents on the swimmer’s back, shoulders, or any location the opponent can grab the swimmer. Spectators watch as swimmers are pushed under the water, shots are blocked, and well-placed throws find their way past the goalkeeper and into the net. The crowds cheer, the crowds react—loud enough to be heard over the bands and sounds of the football game being held in the nearby Farris Stadium. This season may be over, and you may have to wait for next September, but its worth the wait and place this event on your calendar—you will not be disappointed.

In the women’s’ title game Brandeis Lady Broncos and the O’Connor Lady Panthers faced each other. Any time O’Connor and Brandeis play against one another you can expect the game to be intense and provide lasting memories.

The Lady Broncos defeated Harlan 14-4 and Clark 8-7 to reach the final game.

The Lady Panthers defeated Taft 14-3 and Alamo Heights 13-4 to land in the final game.

As billed the match could easily impress the gladiators of the Roman Empire. In the early moments, both teams found the goal. Defense by the Lady Broncos and the Lady Panthers worked hard to keep their opponents from scoring. Each team’s offense weaved around swimmers and to find the goal and both teams scored 5 apiece before the second period ended.

Both coaches spent the halftime planning and encouraging their team for the next two quarters of play.

The intensity increased in the second half as each team dove into the water hoping to win the coveted cup. The third period both teams traded goals, swimmers maneuvered around the pool and their opponents.

As a spectator one could understand how a school of drum might feel when they see a great white on the horizon. Each team’s defense continued to attempt to control the opponent’s movements. The offense passed the ball and set up the score.

In the final minutes of the third period, the Lady Broncos started to pull away from the Lady Panthers and Lady Momentum finally swam to one end of the pool.

Although the Lady Panthers scored and attempted to bring momentum back to their side of the pool; the Lady Broncos continued to play strong defense and defended their goal.

The Lady Broncos continued to take shots at the goal and connected for two goals to increase their lead by four. In the waning minutes of the fourth period, the Lady Panthers were able to score two goals and attempt a comeback. However, tough defense by the Lady Broncos, Lady Momentum, and the clock worked against them as Brandeis protected their lead and won the game 11-9.

In the men’s’ final, newcomer Harlan Hawks surprised veteran team O’Connor Panthers. Harlan Hawks started water polo last year when the doors of Harlan High School opened.

The Hawks reached the final round by defeating the combined team of Jay/Stevens 15-1 and powerhouse Brandeis 11-7.

The Panthers no stranger to the final round of the Alamo Cup reached this year’s final by defeating Brennan 14-4 and Alamo Heights 9-4.

The Hawks opened the final game by scoring quickly. The young Hawk’s team added strong defense to hold off advances by the Panthers. The offense continued to add goals to the scoreboard.

The first half ended with the Hawks owning a four-goal advantage over the Panthers. A lead they would never relinquish as the final game continued.

The Hawks continued to rely on strong offense as they controlled the tempo and momentum of the game. The Hawk defense guarded the goal like a hungry seal watching over a school of tuna.

The Panthers stole a page from the Lady Panther final book as the team mounted a comeback inside the fourth period. However, the Hawk defense refused to give ground and held off the Panther advances to grab the 2018 Alamo Cup championship.

Although the Hawk team may be a relative newcomer to the pool; they played as well as seasoned veterans besting two strong teams—Brandeis and O’Connor.

In additional games, Alamo Heights defeated Clark to win third place in the women’s bracket. In the men’s third-place game, Brandeis defeated Clark.

Water polo season in Northside concluded with the final tick of the men’s championship game for 2018. If you missed the thrilling final games on both sides of the pool, take heart next September will bring in a new season and new adventures.

Images from the 2018 Alamo Cup can be found https://echosportszone.pixieset.com/

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