The Manta Rays under-12 water polo team had a perfect weekend in Pompano Beach, Florida, USA, as they won all four of their games of the U12 Annual Winter Cup at the Pompano Beach Swimming Pool, walking away with the overall title.
Matthew Thompson was the leading scorer of the tournament, scoring 26 goals, an average of 6.5 goals per game. The young player said Coach Laszlo “Lotty” Borbely introduced the game of water polo to him and he fell in love with the sport, switching over from swimming.
On Saturday, the team hit the water at 9:30 a.m. They took on the South Florida water polo team. It was an easy win for the Bahamian squad, winning 18-7.
The scorers for the Bahamian team were Thompson (nine goals), Tonny Simon (four goals), Mateo Manning (three goals), and Victor Laslop and Jayden Smith scored one goal apiece.
Borbely said the team has been training together since last year September.
In their second game of the tournament, the Bahamian team went up against YMCA, of Central Florida. They won in convincing fashion, 14-7.
The leading scorer in this game for the Bahamian team was Munnings, with four goals. Thompson and Simon had three goals each. Alex Miller had two goals. Rounding out the scoring for the Manta Rays with one goal were Laslop and Skylar Fernander.
Borbely said he has been recruiting players from different schools who are talented or show some potential in the sport. Most of his players have also been swimming with him with the Manta Rays club for years.
The team was back in action on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. It was a rematch with the YMCA team. The outcome was the same, with The Bahamas winning 17-11.
Munnings and Thompson had six goals apiece to lead the Manta Rays. They had help from Simon (three goals), Miller (one goal) and Chelsea Smith (one goal).
The championship game was at noon on Sunday. The Manta Rays had no problem defeating the South Florida water polo team, winning easily with 16-10.
Thompson scored eight goals. Miller had three; Munnings and Simon scored two goals each and Laslop had one.
Thompson attributes his high volume scoring to his teammates.
“I was able to score all those goals from my teammates passing to me and working together allowing me to get goals,” Thompson said.
The Queen’s College student said this tournament was not as challenging as others, but he did say they had to put in the same effort and hard work as with the other tournaments.
The young team was very focused with the task at hand, said Borbely.
“Focusing is usually a problem with young players. I always emphasize at the tactical meeting, and every time the game stops, and when I have the chance to talk to them between two quarters or periods – keep focusing on the game; don’t let anything distract your attention and play until the last whistle, because that is where you know you win the game,” Borbely said.
He added: “This team was special in many ways. One was very obvious from the first moment – our fitness level was very good. The second one was the team was very well put together in the sense that everyone on the team had a friendly relationship with each other; no one was selfish, everyone passed to everyone and they helped everyone. They are a team and they have the team spirit and everyone was focused.”
Thompson said he was tired after the game, but if he had to play another game, he would have been ready to go back in the pool. He hopes to continue to progress in the sport of water polo.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism