It was a great showing by Bahamian junior water polo player Kaitlyn Williams, who scored 29 goals at the Southwest Zone National Junior Qualifiers in Pearland, Texas, held June 8-9.
Williams played for Houston-based Viper Pigeons’ 14U girls team, her first time playing on an all-girls team, and admitted that it was a great experience.
The team made it to the finals on Sunday but fell 15-5 to the Thunder Black, with Williams scoring four of her team’s five goals.
The Viper Pigeons still qualified for the National Junior Olympics, set for July 25 -28, at the William J. Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, California. It is the largest age group water polo tournament in the nation.
The Bahamian came away with 29 overall goals in games to average an eye-popping 5.8 goals per game.
Williams did not have a set position with her team, but rather rotated positions based on where her coach placed her. She loved playing hole guard, however, the main defensive position.
In their opening game, the Viper Pigeons fell 15-5 to the Thunder Black, with Williams scoring two goals in that game.
It was a better showing by Williams and her Viper Pigeons after their offense went up a couple of notches to take down Southside 22-14. Williams poured in seven goals.
In the final game on Saturday, June 8, Williams’ team scored over 20 goals again to defeat Thunder Silver 23-14. She scored eight goals in the win.
To this point, the Windsor High School student admitted, “I started to feel more comfortable with my new team and got more aggressive.”
That win over the Thunder Silver sent the Viper Pigeons through to the semi-finals.
In the semi-final game on Sunday, the 14-year-old scored eight goals to lead her team to a 17-11 win to advance to the final.
In the final later that day, Williams and her team had a rematch against Thunder Black. They lost with the same score line as the first game, 15-5, this time with Williams scoring four goals as she tried to help her team offensively.
By the time the Junior Olympics rolls around, Williams hopes to get faster, stronger and play her best.
“I am really excited for the experience and opportunity to play against new teams,” she said.
Williams was the sole member on The Bahamas 14U coed team that won the silver medal at the 2019 CARIFTA Water Polo Championships held in Wildey, Barbados back in April. In addition to the silver medal, she was named the best defender in that division.
This weekend, six water polo players from the junior boys will have their chance to qualify for the Water Polo Junior Olympics. Alexander Gomez will play for the Houston Storm’s 18U team.
Gabriel Sastre, Aidan Johnson, Alexander Turnquest, Nicholas Wallace-Whitfield and Oliver Roberts will play for the Storm’s 16U boys team.
That competition begins tomorrow and wraps up on Sunday, June 16, at the Cypress-Fairbanks International School District Pridgeon Natatoruim in Houston, Texas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism