All set for the 2019 National Finals in Calgary
Water Polo Canada – (May 22, 2019) – After 882 games and six months of intense competition, the 2019 National Championship League (NCL) season will come to an end this weekend with the playing of the 2019 National Finals. The flagship event of Canadian domestic water polo calendar will see 18 teams head to Calgary to battle it out for the titles of 16U and 19U National Champions.
The National Finals bring together the top teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences of the NCL, who had to earn their way to the Finals by virtue of an intense qualification process. At the beginning of the season, 56 teams had dreams of a National Title, and now that number stands at just 18. The 1st and 2nd place boys and girls teams from their conference championships will compete for the 16 and under division crown. In the 19U category, the 1st and 2nd place men’s and women’s teams from the conference championships are joined by the Interconference Champion to create a five-team competition for the title. The action will begin Thursday, May 23, 2019, at 11:00 am (Local time) with the preliminary rounds.
Calgary has a long and proud history of hosting world-class sporting events that promote active lifestyles, contribute to the economy and elevate Calgary’s reputation as the Ultimate Host City,” says Carson Ackroyd, senior vice president of sales, Tourism Calgary. “Calgarians are ultimate hosts who bring great energy to any sporting event, and we’re pleased to welcome the 215 athletes along with their coaches, trainers, friends, and family to our city for the 2019 National Finals; the fifth national water polo event to be hosted in Calgary this year.
“The National Finals are the highlight of the season for water polo teams across Canada, and Water Polo Canada is pleased to welcome them to Calgary in 2019! This great event would not be possible without the help of our valuable partners, especially those in Calgary who have supported the National Championship League from its inception in 2014. The 2019 National Finals will be action-packed from start to finish, with more games than ever before. We hope to see everyone out at the Repsol Sport Centre to witness and appreciate the tremendous talent that exists in Canadian water polo.” commented Martin Goulet, Water Polo Canada’s Executive Director.
National Finals – Preview
The first games will begin Thursday morning at 11 am MST in the 19U category. The 19U competition format has changed since last year as it now adds preliminary games before the knock-out stages. Each team will play two games in a preliminary round to determine the playoff bracket for the Championship. Teams will then be reseeded first through fifth after the
preliminary round based on their records. After teams are ranked, fourth place will play fifth place in the Quarter-Final for the right to play 1st place in the Semi-Final. The second semi-final will be between third place and second place.
From the East, CAMO’s 19U women’s team enters its fifth straight National Finals after going undefeated again during the regular season and then winning their conference championship. Having won three of the last four National Championships, they will no doubt be a tough out.
Dollard’s 19U Women’s team will be looking to build off their impressive conference finals showing as they were able to qualify for the Finals by knocking off CAMO in the 1 vs 2 game. Dollard has plenty of Nationals Finals experience as eight of their players were on the 16U Dollard team that won the Championship last year.
Moving to the West, the Calgary Renegades 19U squad will be playing as the only team from the host city. They are the number one seed from the West as they ran the table as the fifth seed in the conference championships to win the title.
The Edmonton Tsunami 19U women enter the tournament as the second team from the West. They finished first in the regular season from the western conference and have shown that they can beat anybody. They will be looking to their goalie Julia Zebak as she has one of the top GAA in the 19U category and made All-Star Team honours as well.
The final 19U women’s team is defending National Champion Saskatchewan. Sask qualified for the Finals by winning the 19U Crossover but had a bit of a disappointing run at the conference championships, finishing in 3rd place. Sask will go into the Finals knowing they have what it takes to win; however, as they are the only competing team to have beaten every other team attending the Finals.
On the 19U Men’s side, the two-time defending National Champions from CAMO did not qualify, so there will be a guaranteed new champion. The Golden Titans enter the event as the top seed from the East. They entered the conference championship as the 3rd seed but were able to upset Dollard Black and Mavericks to qualify as a one seed. Diego Gonzalez (43 goals) and Bogdan Djerkovic (41 goals) both finished in the top ten in scoring and will be dangerous during the finals.
The Mavericks 19U team enters as the second team out of the East. They were undefeated during the regular season and suffered a tough loss to the Golden Titans in the conference finals. This Mavericks team has seen lots of success a the Nationals Finals, as many of its members were a part of the Mavericks squads that won the previous two 16U Boys National Championships.
On the West side, Saskatchewan comes in as the top 19U men’s seed. They have been dominant this year as they won the Crossover and their Conference Championship.
Pacific Storm is the next seed from the West as they were able to upset the second-ranked Fraser Valley in the conference championship semi-finals. They will be hoping to claim a few more upsets in order to earn a 2nd NCL National Championship to go along with the one Storm captured in 2016.
The last 19U men’s team from the West is Fraser Valley. Despite being the third seed, Fraser Valley can build off the fact that they are the only team this year to defeat Saskatchewan.
The 16U competition will start on Thursday night but will get fully underway on Friday at the Repsol Sport Centre. The four teams in each of the girls’ and boys’ competitions (the top two teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences) will play a three-game round robin to open the tournament. The top two teams at the end of the round robin will play for gold, with third and fourth playing for bronze.
At the 16U boys level, the Mavericks will be looking to win their third straight National Championship. They also enter Nationals as the top team from the Eastern Conference, riding an unbeaten streak that has lasted over three years now. They will be tough to beat as no team has come within 5 goals of them all season. Karim Abodaoud has led the way offensively, scoring an NCL high 93 goals.
The second team coming from the East is Montreal Machine. This is the third straight year that they have qualified for Nationals, and they will be looking to improve on the two bronze medals that they won the last two years.
On the West side, the West Coast Warriors enter as the number one seed from the West. Many of the players on the squad were on the Spartans team that qualified last year, so this won’t be their first taste of the Finals. Warriors won the Western Championships by defeating previously unbeaten Fraser Valley and will look to ride that momentum to more success at the National Finals.
The second team coming out of the West is Fraser Valley. Fraser Valley won 18 straight games this year before going down to Warriors in the conference championships. Valley will be hoping to use that set back to achieve bigger and better things this week in Calgary.
In the girl’s division, CAMO enters the event as the number one seed from the East. They finished 17-1-0 during the regular season and have heaps of scoring talent on their team. Alica Petkov (82 goals), Nahla El Mahboubi (68 goals) and Jessica Beauchemin (67 goals) who are one, two, three in scoring in the Eastern Conference. CAMO will be looking to win their first ever 16U girls NCL National Championship this weekend in Calgary, after some very close calls in years past.
Dollard’s 16U girls team enters the tournament as the second seed from the East, but they are the defending National Champions as well. Dollard is one of the best defensive teams in the country and can really put the clamps on their opposition when they are firing on all cylinders.
In the West, Pacific Storm comes in as a number one seed after winning their conference championship. They are back at Nationals for a second straight year and will be looking to improve on their bronze finish from last year. This team has also benefited from their 14U Program as many of these girls come from the squads that won three straight 14U National Championships for Storm.
The final 16U girls’ team from the West is Fraser Valley who will be looking to win their third 16U girls championship in five years. They will have a tough road ahead, but they have the mettle to win as they qualified for National finals after coming back from a 7-1 deficit in the conference championships semi-finals.
The 2019 NCL Finals will take place at Repsol Sport Centre from May 23-25. Attendance is free to all. For more information on the event schedule and live streaming, please visit www.waterpolo.ca.
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Water Polo Canada Communications
(613) 748-5682 x 325