Greenwich Aquatics Team Wins Bronze at HaBa WaBa Tournament


From left to right: Katie Byxbee, Sophia Ojjeh, Sofia Wang, Olivia Hopper, Annika Wise, Ashley Hopper, Julia Gustaffson, Norah Mendelsohn (contributed photo)

By Richard Kaufman

Using stout defense with just enough offensive firepower, the Greenwich Aquatics water polo team of the Greenwich YMCA was able to come away with a bronze medal in the annual HaBa WaBa North America tournament in Montreal, Quebec City, Canada last weekend.

The round-robin-style tournament featured programs mostly from the United States and Canada, although there was a team from Taiwan and Serbia. Greenwich was one of the younger teams in the 12U grouping, and the only all-girls team in the entire tournament. They played mostly co-ed programs throughout the four-day event.

Regardless, Greenwich was able to defeat a team from Pittsburgh by a score of 2-1 in the bronze medal match-up. The game was a rematch from earlier in the tournament in which Pittsburgh forfeited due to injuries, but was able to substitute in an older player which Greenwich allowed. The two teams played anyway, and Pittsburgh won that game 4-2.

“It was really nice to be able to come back knowing that even though it was a forfeit and they beat us 4-2, to come back and play them again and beat them 2-1 was really exciting,” said Greenwich head coach, Kim Tierney.

Greenwich relied on its defense en route to a victory, as Ashley Hopper and Sofia Wang provided the only scoring on offense. Because of the rules of the tournament, smaller goals are used which Tierney said made it difficult for her team to get shots off.

Tierney noted that although half the team has experience in tournaments, four girls participated in their first big event.

“For them to come in and really step up and be able to hold a game to 2-1 was exciting,” Tierney said, adding that a 2-1 score is extremely low for a water polo game. “I think we were 1-1 at half, and we were able to keep them from not scoring.”

Because the team is so young, Tierney said, she put extra emphasis on having a strong defense. But Greenwich came to Montreal without a true goalie, so they rotated players through that position before going with Katie Byxbee for the final game.

“She stepped up and played in the final game and made some really nice blocks in order to keep the score down,” Tierney said.

Tierney said that as a female athlete and avid water polo player, she takes pride in working with younger girls who are interested in the sport.

“On the women’s side, there’s not as many girls playing water polo. As a female athlete myself and having played for so long, I really want to be able to see more girls play this sport,” Tierney said.

“There’s so many opportunities for females out there as water polo players, so I want to make sure these girls have a great time and are passionate about the sport.”

It’s safe to say that the Greenwich Aquatics team had a great time in Montreal last weekend.

For more information on the Greenwich Aquatics team, go to greenwichaquatics.com.

About Author: Richard Kaufman

Richard Kaufman, general assignment reporter at the Sentinel, graduated from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., in 2011 with a degree in journalism/communications. Having grown up in nearby Westchester County, Richard is familiar with the area and everything it has to offer. To get in contact with Richard, you can email him at richard@greenwichsentinel.com

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