Tom Curwen was not to be outdone by the returning Olympic stars when Lancaster started their defence of their British Water Polo League title by ending the weekend as the team’s top scorer on a tally of 16, just one goal ahead of Olympian Alex Parsonage, with both players able to afford the luxury of a missed penalty.
Lancaster finished the weekend with three comprehensive victories, against Invicta 17-8, Bristol 19-9 and London Penguin 24-5.
Whilst Alex and Tom grabbed the scoring headlines another Olympian, Ciaran James, signed off with what will be his only appearance of the season with an outstanding display of water polo.
Ciaran has been head hunted by a top Spanish side after impressing during the Olympic games.
Unlike last season when the team had a particularly poor start, the squad proved far too strong for the weekend’s opposition.
Lancaster’s third Olympian Glen Robinson was solid, a description that could also be given to his younger brother Mark who took over the goalkeeping duties from veteran Dave Bush, who was suffering from a shoulder injury.
With the Olympians back, Lancaster have added some of their own youngsters to the squad in place of the two Greek brothers who helped the team out last year.
Youngsters included this year are Noel Howson, Sam Smith, Scott Sharpe and Ben Walker.
In a squad of mixed levels, old hands Colin Burgess and Chris Hartley are still around and with James Wannop, Decland Ellwood, Michael Brown and Hamish Crichton bridging the gap betwen young and old, Lancaster have a formidable squad.
Also being considered as part of the squad is a local league playing colleague of Curwen’s, James Moffat, so this should mean that unlike last year the team will not be travelling light handed.
CIARAN James scored the first goal of the season inside the first minute and this was a taste of what to come as Invicta were totally overawed by Lancaster’s performance.
By the end of the first quarter Lancaster were already 9-1 ahead.
Lancaster used their dominance to give the weekend’s team a run out.
The seniors continued to play an important and key role for the second and third periods.
Starting the fourth, Lancaster were 14-4 ahead and the opportunity was used to challenge the younger players.
The youngsters battled bravely but still have much to learn as Invicta broke away during the quarter to score four counter attack goals.
The opposition didn’t have it all their own way however, and Ellwood (2) and Parsonage added to Lancaster’s tally.
LANCASTER started this match thinking the points were in the bag after eyeing up a weakened Bristol side missing three key players and they got their just rewards during an even first quarter with the scores being close at 3-4.
A number of chances were wasted as Bristol keeper Crawford threatened to do what he did last year, keeping Lancaster’s goal scoring efforts at bay.
As the game progressed, however, the Lancaster players gradually improved.
Second quarter goals from James, Burgess, Hartley and Parsonage took Lancaster’s tally to eight, whilst Bristol could only manage to get past Mark Robinson once.
With Parsonage and James leading the way with two goals each and one from Tom Curwen, Lancaster tried to put the game to bed in the third period without truly establishing full control.
Bristol continued to mount a challenge and responded with four goals of their own.
It took until the final period for Lancaster to really impose themselves.
Curwen lead the way with four goals as Lancaster out-scored Bristol 6-1 to end the game in style.
LANCASTER’S final game was a very one-sided affair.
Penguin were put to the sword in the first period, with Lancaster 6-1 ahead courtesy of goals from Curwen (3), Parsonage (2) and James.
Penguin to their credit struggled on but James in particular leading by example, popping up everywhere, intercepting passes, counter attacking, feeding the forward players as they massed around the Penguin goal.
Lancaster: M Robinson, C James (12), C Burgess (4), G Robinson (2), C Hartley (1), N Howson, T Curwen (16), H Crichton, A Parsonage (15), D Ellwood (5), M Brown (3), S Sharpe (1), S Smith (1).