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March 22, 2022

Sports Highlights – March 2022

Please see below for a roundup of recent sporting activity across rowing, football, swimming, waterpolo, fencing, squash and cross country.

Rowing

This was an exciting Tideway head season for SPS and particularly for the J15 squad. Two J15 eights finished first and third at Quintin Head in January and repeated the feat at Hammersmith Head in February before going on to win both the J15 Championship Eights and J15 Second Eights events at the Schools’ Head of the River Race. The J16A crew also secured a win in their age category at Quintin Head, while the 1st VIII won the Open Senior Eights event. There were also top-three finishes at the Schools’ Head for the 2nd VIII and the J16B crews, while the J15Cs managed to beat three first eights from other schools. St Paul’s fielded eight crews (72 pupils) for this national race, which is more than we have ever done before. In the same week, four J14 octuples (45 pupils) went to their first proper regatta at the Junior Sculling Head, with the top crew finishing 9th overall despite having been rowing for only two months. Off the water, 5th former Alp Karadogan broke the 13-14 age-group world record for 2,000 m on the ergometer, lowering the previous score by 3.4 seconds.

Cross Country

On Saturday 19 March, Cameron McConnon and Benjy Street represented Middlesex in the Year 11 English Schools Cross Country Championships.

Approximately 350 runners took part in the race held at Hop Farm in Kent, and all athletes had qualified originally through their boroughs and then counties.

Both Cameron and Benjy ran incredibly well and finished in the top 150. The field was incredibly strong, and with both boys still only in the Fifth Form, it would always be a very tough race.

Aquatics 

SPS Aquatics has had one of the most successful terms in recent memory. We achieved a bronze medal in the historic Bath Cup, our first medal in the competition in 41 years in a school record-breaking time of 3:41. We also managed to win a bronze medal in the John Nelson Medley Relay with a school-record time of 1:51. Malachi Cohen, Christian Duetoft, Tom Street, Alex Pama, and Ethan Howard were all members of the relays.

Individually two members of our squad, Malachi Cohen and Christian Duetoft, have also qualified for British Championships in Sheffield over the Easter holiday with a chance to achieve a 2022 Commonwealth games selection. SPS swimming has become a vital cornerstone of St Paul’s School sports.

Water Polo 

On Monday 21 March, our U18 Water Polo Squad headed to Northampton Boys’ School to compete in the England Schools’ Water Polo Bowl finals. They faced off against Brighton College, Kings School Grantham, London Oratory, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar and Abingdon teams. Despite only being able to field nine players, St Paul’s came away victorious!

After dispatching Brighton in impressive fashion 8-2, they won a nail biter against Kings 4-3 to finish top of their group. In their semi-final, they showed real grit and determination to land a shut-out 3-0 win against Abingdon. A shock result in the other semi-final (Kings toppling Oratory) meant SPS and Kings were set for a re-match in the final. After a back-and-forth first half which saw the teams tied, SPS dug deep to pull away and finish the tournament in style with an 8-5 victory.

Everyone played exceptionally well, but special mention has to go to Sandro Weeks for some fantastic saves in goal, Ibrahim Khan for some ferocious pit defense, and James Rossiter. He finished as the tournament’s top scorer with an incredible 15 goals.

Fencing

The Fencing Team has had a great term and enjoyed many achievements. This term’s main event was the Public Schools Fencing Competition against hundreds of fencers from different schools. Altan Mardin led the way in the junior epee category and came in third place out of 122. Earlier in the term, we came second in the quadrangular event against Eton, St Benedict’s and Latymer and played many more matches, for example, winning against Westminster. It was rewarding to compete in both relay match formats at St Benedict’s and pool matches against Harrow. At the highly anticipated SPS school championships, Julian Amore won Foil, Altan Mardin won epee, and Charles Amsellem won sabre. It was good to see everyone participating and enjoying the competitive atmosphere. There was a strong team spirit and sportsmanship in friendly and competitive matches.

Squash Team

The Eighth Form Squash Team performed brilliantly at the Roehampton Schools Squash Invitation on Sunday 20 March to finish Fifth despite having a player less than the rest of the schools.

The players were:

George Livesey (Upper Eighth)

James Rossiter (Lower Eighth)

Olly Hatfield (Upper Eighth)

Tom Jensen (Upper Eighth)

Football

Results in the Block against Harrow are below. Traditionally one of the most enjoyable and challenging blocks, however, St Paul’s put paid to that notion with a series of fantastic displays of attacking football and almost a clean sweep at Seniors and U16s to finish the season with a bang.

In the 1st XI, it started an even battle on a beautiful surface between two technical midfields. St Paul’s looked the more incisive and were rewarded when Danny Shai broke the deadlock when the Harrow goalkeeper gave him a second bite of the cherry. Harrow fought back, driven by the knowledge that victory would hand them the league title. St Paul’s were on the ropes for a spell as Hyder Butt saved and the crossbar and post were rattled.

A blitzkrieg break ended with Powell putting St Paul’s 2-0 up, and from then on, it was a masterclass in possession football from St Paul’s with Shevchuk running the middle of the pitch. Danny Shai put the icing on the cake with a third for St Paul’s.

The U16s finally lit the blue touch paper to exorcise the demons of a frustrating season for a strong year group. If they can reach those heights in the future, it will bode well for the seniors next year.

St Paul’s were up for the last match of the season and played some beautiful intricate passing football. The opening 15 minutes saw chances at both ends before some tidy midfield passing saw Pavell pick the ball up on 14 minutes and play a well-judged ball for Grimstone to slot home to break the deadlock. The favour was almost repaid minutes later a string of passes finding Grimstone on the right of the 6 yard box, who cut back for Pavell, who fired just wide. St Paul’s continued to press but were unable to find a second before Harrow scored with an unsavable screamer off the underside of the bar at the stroke of halftime to leave it level going into the break. St Paul’s were distraught to be level but were confident that if they continued to play as they were should come out on top.

Half time saw Speake called up to the 5th XI, and Leigh take his place on the left wing. Harrow came out firing, piling on the pressure down St Paul’s right wing, though after just 3 minutes on the pitch Leigh won a penalty, which he went on to convert to restore St Paul’s lead. He added a second 2 minutes later firing in from the left of the box. At this point, Grimstone went down needing medical attention, and your match reporter had to leave the action to take him to the medical hut. Gunderson Bailey was named manager in the interim, and as the reporter was returning he saw a 4th goal go in from 3 pitches away, with Leigh wrapping up his hat-trick with a rebound after a Harrow save from a shot – details are slightly blurred as your reporter had left his glasses at home.

St Paul’s continued to press, and the physical center back pairing of Amad and Hunt were withdrawn after some excellent work to give them a rest, with Gunderson Bailey and Liu filling in as makeshift defenders for the remainder of the match. Harrow was after another goal, but St Paul’s continued to press and keep them at bay when out of position. Traynor was then rewarded for another excellent showing in midfield with a well taken and well-worked goal from a tight angle on the left with the last kick of the game and season.

All in all, a consummate performance from a passionate team who have gone from strength to strength and grown as a team and footballers as the season has progressed. Well done to all involved in the 6th XI during their matches in 2022. More of the same next year please!

1st XIAwayWon: 3 – 0
2nd XIAwayWo : 2 – 0
3rd XIAwayWon: 6 – 1
4th XIAwayDraw: 1 – 1
5th XIAwayDraw: 2 – 2
6th XIAwayWon: 5 – 1
Boys-U16AHomeWon: 3 – 1
Boys-U16BHomeWon: 3 – 0
Boys-U16CHomeWon: 1 – 0
Boys-U16DHomeWon: 4 – 1
Boys-U14AHomeDraw: 2 – 2
Boys-U14BHomeLost: 1 – 2
Boys-U14CAwayLost: 2 – 4
Boys-U14DAwayLost: 0 – 5

 

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