Lancaster City lost out 12-8 to Invicta in the latest round of the British Water Polo Championships at Salt Ayre on Sunday.
The hosts, without top scorer and captain Tom Curwen, faced a side who have raced to the top of the sport since introduction to the national leagues in 2001.
The visitors, from Kent, were on the front foot from the off and scored on their first attack.
Lancaster struggled to get out of the blocks on home soil and found themselves four goals down after just four minutes.
The city side finally found their scoring touch with London 2012 Olympian Glen Robinson getting them on the scoreboard.
Lancaster couldn’t build on the success however and found themselves 5-1 down at the end of the first quarter.
The hosts, nine-time British Champions, were playing slow, predictable polo and Invicta increased their lead to six goals with ease leaving Lancaster with a real uphill battle.
Alex Parsonage scored to give the home side some hope only for Invicta to restore their six-goal advantage.
Olympian Parsonage scored again before half-time as Lancaster turned around 8-3 down.
Coach Zak Sly knew his side needed to score quickly after the break and Parsonage did just that as Lancaster surged forwards.
The sustained pressure didn’t bring much-needed goals however with Invicta scoring on a quick counter attack to dent the Lancaster comeback.
Robinson was then at the double from centre forward to reduce the arrears to 9-6 as the city side mounted attack after attack but struggled to turn their dominance into goals.
Invicta were penalised for a player exclusion but Lancaster’s set up play was poor as the visitors regained possession and again scored on a counter attack.
Brett Perkins did however reduce the deficit to a manageable three goals by the end of the third quarter for the hosts.
Lancaster were now in touching distance and were awarded a penalty for a foul on Robinson.
City failed to score but did force the ball into the net a minute later.
Lancaster then gained another extra man advantage but were unable to score with Invicta again striking on the counter.
The hosts, still sensing a positive result, pressed forward late on but failed to score as Invicta scored a final goal in the dying seconds of the game.
Lancaster: Marc Robinson, Graham Harrington, Glen Robinson, Lewis Peach, Ryan Pinington, David Teasdale, Alex Parsonage, Decland Ellwood, Roger Kennedy, Neil Bowers, Brett Perkins
Salt Ayre next hosts British Championships Water Polo action when reigning champions Cheltenham take on Lancaster City on April 12.
The action starts at 12.30pm with entry £2.50 for adults and £1 for children.