Go to the Varsity 2019 page for scores and pictures from the weekend.
Oxford Womens’ Blues
The Oxford Women’s Blues Team have been going from strength to strength this season, sitting comfortably mid top of their BUCS league, scoring 165 goals in competitive matches this season. This multinational squad, for the most part all have several years experience playing polo, including two returning captains; Lucy Wright and Hannah Wilson – who is reprising her role as captain from 2006-7.
This dedicated squad has not only been training hard in the pool but also benefited from specialised strength and conditioning training, which has played a valuable role developing the squad into a more professional team. This year the women’s squad undertook a training tour to Budapest, the home of water polo, and learnt valuable lessons on game awareness, ball handling and contact play.
This group of girls brings an incredible level of dedication, enthusiasm (notably Anna Szyszko, VC, who hasn’t been seen without a smile since 2003) and drive to the pool, and are looking forward to the challenge of playing Cambridge as underdogs, in a shallow end pool.
Oxford Womens’ 2s
This newly created team has only really been separate from the rest of the squad of girls for a short period of time. The team is made up of some returning players, and a large number of new comers to water polo. They have had a steep learning curve this year over the course of several development squad matches, with increasing success with every match.
Several members of this team joined the Budapest Tour, which resulted in a dramatic improvement in game awareness and skills over the course of the season. Many of the starting 7 for this team narrowly missed out on positions in the 1sts, and have perhaps more to prove than the Blues this Varsity weekend.
Under the guidance of captain Leah Taylor-Kearney, and vice captain Matilda Hadcock, this team has amalgamated into a tight knit group, with boundless enthusiasm for the sport. What they lack in experience they are sure to make up for in determination, ready to do OUWPC proud as the first ever Women’s Seconds Team.
Oxford Mens’ Blues
The Oxford University Men’s Blues have gone from strength to strength in the 2018-2019 season. Coming off the back of a BUCS Premier South and Varsity win in the previous season, the team demonstrated that this was not a singular occurrence, finishing the current season with only 1 defeat and finishing 2nd in the league behind a very heavily fortified Cardiff side. This high position has enabled the Blues team to be eligible for Full Blues for a second year running – a feat which has not been achieved in recent memory until last season. This achievement is no doubt due to the excellent depth within our Blues squad, who started the season with a squad of 18 (which was difficult to whittle down to 13 for every game). This depth enabled the team to fight valiantly in every fixture despite being plagued by various injuries throughout the season. Special mention should be given to those players in the 2nd Team Varsity who consistently aided the Blues team in their times of need, and played to their best ability and stepped up when required. It has been a pleasure to lead the team this year, and will be an honor to walk out with them at Varsity.
Oxford Mens’ 2s
The Oxford Men's 2s come into Varsity off the back of a very successful season. With one of the biggest squads we have ever to pick from, and some great new additions to the squad, we secured second place in BUCS Midlands 2A.
We started the season with a hard fought win against Nottingham Trent, inflicting their only defeat on them all season. Our first meeting against the Cambridge 2s resulted in a resounding 15-1 win for Oxford, an excellent team performance all round. We also won a close game away at Oxford Brookes, coming out 6-5 winners with just 8 players available.
After just one loss in Michaelmas term, we headed into Hilary, securing another win against Cambridge 2s, this time a much closer game. Water polo newbie Tommy Pullan having his best game in the pool yet, scoring the bulk of our goals and seeing us over the line for a 13-11 win.
We had one more hard fought win against Leicester, which was achieved thanks to a beautiful lob from former club president Ameen Chekroud with the scores tied and just 90 seconds on the clock. Those results secured second place in the league for us, one of our highest ever finishes. It's been a huge effort this year with a squad including several young players - Matt Rosenfeld, Matt Webb, Josh Greensmith, as well as good performances from seasoned members of the squad Ameen Chekroud and Tom Morcom. Thanks to Ajay Kapur for all his work coaching.
After a much closer game this term, we're excited for what will be a close Varsity match!
Over the Christmas holidays the OUWPC ladies had a very successful tour to Budapest. We were hosted by one of the largest water polo clubs in the city, UVSE, who we played and trained with throughout the week. Whilst we played a lot of water polo, we also found the time to watch a national semi-final, explore the city, go the Szechenyi baths and spend time at the Christmas markets.
Thanks go to UVSE for hosting and feeding us, and to Christy for organising such a great tour!
BUCS match against UEA away.
Really fun day, despite a very long drive and a very short warm up, the Oxford ladies put in a fantastic performance.
Starting with Rhiannon in goal, who is gaining confidence since her return and starting to really own the space between the posts.
Outfield TJ Ophelia scored her first goal for OUWPC, and survived the notorious TJ minibus challenge.
Leah Taylor Kearney, Zara Ahmad and Gabrielle Bourret-Sicotte all were tenacious in the press and worked hard to shut down any offensive play from the opposition.
Soraya Kezelmann and Catherine Mills were absolute super subs, and made a massive difference to controlling the play once in the pool.
Our starting outfield players were cool, calm and played intelligent polo despite a lack of structure from the opposition.
At the top of the 4th quarter Jodie R White, Lucy Wright, Emily Van Heerden, Leonor VA, Anna Szyszko, all showed the depth of ability and fitness that our squad has, which resulted in 10 goals in less than 8 minutes.
FINAL SCORE: 14-8 (to Oxford)
After last week’s triumph, the Oxford Mens Blues lined up once more at the Rosenblatt Fortress for their home fixture against Imperial College London. This was no ordinary fixture against the London side however, with OUWPC alum, and previous Mens Captain Joseph Ortiz making his return to the Rosenblatt for the opposition side. However this fixture also saw the return of OUWPC alum Nicolas Lippolis for the Dark Blues as he just couldn’t stay away.
The first quarter began fiercely contested, likely as the boys focused too much on Ortiz to notice the other IC threats as remained level at 1-1 for the majority of the period. However, a burst of activity saw goals from Dr Richard O’Halloran and Seh Woon Neo to end the quarter 3-1. IC rapidly responded in the second quarter bringing the game level to 3-3 through a lapse in Oxford concentration, before a rapid flurry of Oxford goals from VC Joshua Silverbeck, O’Halloran, Pietro Ferrero and Neo to end the quarter 7-4.
The second half saw the Oxford Boys retain their strong lead, with goals from Neo and Ferrero, whilst IC also scored 2. The final quarter saw more drama however, with final majors being given against Lippolis and Captain Ajay Kapur. This did not stop the momentum of the Dark Blues however, who in this quarter put 5 goals past a tired IC side, including a goal from Social Secretary Patrick Isaacs to close the game out, leading to a final score of 14-8.
Goals in this game were scored by Ferrero (6), Neo (3), O’Halloran (2), Silverbeck (2) and Isaacs (1), whilst the major king title this week is awarded to Lippolis (as he was majored out of the game first). The next fixture will prove to be the first test for the lads as they make the trip down to Wales to face Cardiff.
Match Report – Bath Home Coming into the new season and with the intake of some exceptional freshers, the Mens Blues side lined up at the Rosenblatt Fortress for their season opener against newly promoted Bath University.
The opposition were clearly nervous and started off tentative, allowing the Blues to go 2-0 up within the first 2 minutes with excellent goals from senior superstar Seh Woon Neo and incoming fresher Pietro Ferrero. It was not long before Bath clawed it back to 2-2, before the quarter ended with the Blues 3-2 up after a rocket penalty from Neo. The second quarter was initially closely contested with Bath quickly equalizing. However, a focused Oxford side slotted in three goals in rapid succession thanks to Neo, Ferrero and last season’s top goal scorer, Dr Richard O’Halloran, before Bath capitalized on a slip in concentration and ended the half 6-4.
The third quarter saw a similar picture being painted, with goals from O’Halloran, Ferrero and Neo seeing Oxford maintain their 2 goal lead at 9-7, before a fourth quarter display of excellence seeing the side reach a final score of 12-9.
The game saw 3 goal-scorers from the Dark Blues: Neo (6), Ferrero (4) and O’Halloran (2), with the Major King award for the most majors also being awarded to Ferrero (2)
Today was a big day for the OUWPC girlies, with only one real training session under our belts we faced our first BUCS match of the season.
Firstly, our goalie Matilda Hadcock playing for the first time as no.1, had an incredible start, almost keeping a clean sheet, including facing down a penalty - woo! Watch out Alice Fisher she’s coming for your T-Shirt and or title.
We played an impressive tight press picking up from where we left off last year, Charlotte Lou Lay, Leonor VA and Catherine Mills absolutely shutting down passing options to the point that the clock ran out on the Brookes attacks frequently.
Our vice captain Anna Szyszko worked tirelessly in defence to shut down any breaks Brooke’s created, whilst also scoring 3 goals.
Emily Van Heerden a new comer to OUWPC, slotted into play on the wing beautifully, winning 3 swim offs and also scoring 3.
Soraya Kezelmann truly channeled her inner Hungarian today stealing the ball, countering and scoring 6 goals in as many minutes, to become the top scorer in the match, in a spectacular display of dominance.
Today saw the triumphant first appearance for
Ophelia Donoghue and Zara Ahmad who both are picking up the tactics and skills incredibly fast, creating arcs and breakaways already - well done ladies!
Also playing in her first match of water polo was Gabby Bourret-Sicotte who not only scored on her debut but also won a swim off, although she has some homework following the tip off👐
Jodie White and myself started our campaigns for Major Queen, and I look forward to a close battle for this title 😏.
All in all I couldn’t be prouder of how tonight went. We have some work to do yet, but a great start to the season.
AWESOME WORK OUWPC LADIES!!
Congratulations to our newly elected committee.
President Jodie White (Univ)
Treasurer Nick Corbett (Wadham)
Secretary Catherine Mills (Pembroke)
Women's Captain Hannah Wilson (Oriel)
Women's Vice Captain Anna Szyszko (Exeter)
Men's Captain Ajay Kapur (St Catz)
Men's Vice Captain Josh Silverbeck (Wadham)
Second's Captain Alex Picksley
Men's Social Sec Patrick Isaacs (St John's) and Saul Blankstone (St Hugh's)
Women's Social Sec Soraya Kezelmann (Pembroke)
Men's Tour Rep Patrick Isaacs (St John's)
Women's Tour Rep Christy Sadler (St Peter's)
We are sad to bid farewell to the out going committee. They did an excellent job. A special thank you goes to Ameen Chekroud, OUWPC President, for organising an outstanding Varsity and for all of his hard work throughout the year.
Oxford Town vs Gown water polo matches are the highlight of the social calendar in Trinity Term.
The Men's 1st team dominated their match, winning comfortably. Their star goalie, Luca Rottoli was even able to make his debut outfield proving that he is a man of many talents.
The women's team faced fierce competition in an extremely close match. Oxford City just clinched the win in what proved to be a very physical match.
The Men's 2nd team showed why they were crowned Varsity Champions in an excellent display of water polo. The women's team came out en masse to support the men and the whole club celebrated the men's 2nds victory with trip to Vinnie's.
Final score: 7-6 to Oxford
The build up was over, the whistle blew to start the Women’s 2018 Varsity match. The girls exploded into a sprint for the ball. Reached first by our own Charlotte Newman, the ball was flicked back to Oxford to begin the first attack in their possession. In a matter of seconds the ball was stolen by Cambridge, who then proceeded to counter down the pool, taking Oxford with them. Oxford’s defence pressed tight, it was clear already that the strength of both teams was a close match. Just 21 seconds into the game Oxford committed a major foul, leaving Cambridge in an un-ideal man-up. The tabs didn't waste this advantage — Oxford’s strong and intelligent defence didn't quite cut it, and the first goal of the match was scored by Cambridge Captain Ella Erwin.
39 seconds down on the clock. 1-0 to Cambridge. The crowd was screaming for Oxford. The next 8 or so attacks from both teams ended with a sharp steal, a near miss of the goal, or, for Cambridge, usually a powerful save by Oxford’s unbelievable goalkeeper Alice Fisher. With less than two minutes left of the first quarter, Anna Szyszko drops the ball into pit where it’s grabbed by Captain Lucy Wright who scores a flawless back-shot. 1-1, the game is equalised and the first quarter is over.
Not long into the second quarter, Oxford’s Ruby Sedgwick makes a drive towards the goal with the ball, picks it up and smashes it into the back of the net. The crowd goes wild, cheers travel from all directions, Oxford had finally gained the advantage they wanted. However, Cambridge soon sprung back into action, scoring another goal, this time with even players, making the score 2-2. Again, it was clear this was going to be a close game… or was it? Halfway through the second quarter, Anna Szyszko scores a powerful goal for Oxford. Excitement fills the room: the team, the crowd and even the lifeguards are cheering at the top of their voices. On the next attack Oxford quickly steal the ball and Emmie Mediate gives her everything in a counter attack. Finding herself without a defender, she received an unbelievably long pass from the other side of the pool and in one smooth motion slammed it past the Cambridge goalie and into the net. Then, the next attack for Cambridge is stolen again by the Oxford powerhouses. The arc was set up, the press by Cambridge was aggressive, tight and strong but this was never going to stop Emmie from scoring another goal against the Tabs.
An incredible plethora of goals in the second quarter meant the blues finished the first half of the Varsity match 5-2 up.
Cambridge’s first attack in the third quarter was cut brutally short by a tackle from Charlotte Newman. Charlotte sprinted with the ball away from every nearby tab, calmly faked a shot at the goal as defenders approached, and scored. The game became heated and Cambridge scored a goal on their next attack. But, in no time at all a strong and smooth goal from Lulu Vulpe-Albari took Oxford up to a fierce 7-3.
The fast-paced, aggressive match began to take its toll on the blues. Cambridge scored three more goals, bringing the score to a very tight 7-6. Oxford still had the lead, but with more than two minutes left on the clock, the Varsity win was still very much up for grabs for both teams. With 60 seconds left, and no more goals, Oxford’s coach, Dom McLoughlin called a timeout. They talk tactics for slowing down the game and holding procession of the ball for as long as possible. They focus on a strong defence and a safe attack. The teams swim back out as the mental and physical intensity of the game reaches its climax. The whistle blows, 60 seconds began to race down on the clock. Captain Lucy Wright and Vice Jodie White pass the ball between them on the right wing under Dom’s instruction for the last 20 seconds, Cambridge frantically trying to steal.
In what felt like a fraction of a second, the timer buzzes. No goals had been scored. The game was over. Champions Oxford cheered with excitement, Dom and the team on the bench leapt into the pool. The blues held each other in the water, jumping and splashing with overwhelming joy.
Oxford take the win for the first ever women’s finale. A historical moment for both teams, and an unforgettable achievement for the Oxford women.
Pat and Saul are the Men's social secretaries.