Men's seconds match report
Calum Bradshaw, Men's seconds Captain
With Oxford assigned the shallow end, the first quarter got underway. Play was intense and frenetic, with the first goals soon arriving. Centre-forward Adria Garriga Alonso easily dominated from the pit position, slotting the ball into the deep end goal three times. Oxford’s press defence proved difficult for Cambridge to break through, with JJ Dixon’s heroic efforts at pit defender neutralising the considerable threat of the enormous light blue centre-forward. Despite this, Cambridge were able to capitalise on their shallow end attacking advantage five times, before Oxford team junior Luca Ameri scored what was to be the first of many goals at the opposite end. The first quarter ended with Cambridge holding a slender 5-4 lead, with Oxford in the ascendency.
After the first break, it was Oxford’s turn to attack the shallow end. The dark blues shifted up a gear, shredding Cambridge’s defence. Aggressive swimming lines taken by Naomi Vides and Phil Behrens tore huge gaps in the light blues’ structure, leaving Oxford captain Calum Bradshaw unmarked as he converted Oxford’s fifth easy goal. A towering contribution was made by Luca Ameri; now playing at centre-forward, he provided three effortless finishes from the pit position he was entirely dominating. Oxford’s defence became tighter still, with Cambridge barely able to complete any attacking passes. Dark blue goalkeeper Jack Counsell was beaten only twice in the second quarter, while JJ Dixon scored his first and Oxford’s ninth, to put the visitors ahead 9-7 at half time.
However, after Oxford had raised the bar in the second quarter, it was Cambridge’s turn to ramp up the intensity in the third. Having identified Oxford’s total dominance from the centre-forward position, Cambridge switched tactics and double-marked the pit, preventing either Luca Ameri or Adria Garriga Alonso from lengthening their scoring streaks. With their key scorers unavailable, Oxford’s attack faltered, leading to a sustained period of Cambridge pressure on the dark blue shallow end. Goalkeeper Jack Counsell heroically batted the ball wide of his net when he found himself one-on-one with a counterattacking Cambridge player, while at the other end Phil Behrens was unlucky to have a score disallowed as the ball drifted on the goal-line. This was a quarter of exclusions, with players sent out at both ends. While Oxford’s man-down defence remained strong, Barclay Shoemaker twice capitalised on a dark blue man-up advantage, scoring the visitors’ only goals of the quarter. Cambridge’s pressure paid off eventually, as they went on to score five goals, including one from the penalty spot.
Beginning at a 12-11 disadvantage, the fourth and final quarter was a frustrating one for Oxford. Cambridge were clearly well-practiced in defending a shallow end, experience which when coupled with their double pit marking rectified the mistakes of the second quarter, and left Oxford unable to convert their opportunities. Oxford’s defence remained stalwart, however dark blue attacks lost structure, leading to a number of turnover balls. The home team pressed their advantage, but Oxford’s formidable press defence left Cambridge able to score only two more goals, one of which came from a penalty. Oxford battled valiantly to the end – the fact that only one goal was scored from open play in the fourth quarter is testament to this. Ultimately, the match finished with a 14-11 Cambridge victory. Despite the disappointing result, the Oxford team can certainly hold their heads high, having put in an extremely strong, and at times dominant performance in a Second Team match of unprecedented intensity and quality. Special thanks go to Mike Proudfoot and Freddie North for their coaching efforts throughout the year.
Women's mATCH REPORT
MATILDA GILBERT, WOMEN'S CAPTAIN
MEN'S BLUES MATCH REPORT
JOE ORTIZ, MEN'S BLUES CAPTAIN
The start of the game was quite tense. Cambridge were well drilled in attacking the shallow end and drew majors also converting the man ups in the first quarter. However, we battled back early on, keeping the scores close with outside shots from Freddie North and Joe Ortiz.
By half time Cambridge had built up a 2 goals lead as we struggled to create chances attacking the shallow end. We found it hard to get space in our attack and our centres found it hard to hold strong position. Despite this, the Oxford defense held very strong with some great steals from our press that worked exceptionally well in 6-6 defence. There was also some fantastic goalkeeping from Luca.
Oxford were very unfortunate in the 3rd quarter. We came out very aggressively looking to get some quick goals to get back into the game. However, some important decisions went against us and we struggled to deal with a couple of early counter attacks from Cambridge. Seh Woon Neo showed impressive fight and leadership towards the end of the game. He ensured the team got up the pool quickly and was always dangerous in attack, contributing a few of goals.
In the final quarter, we began to come back into the game and Shek Khi Huin, Alex Wilson and Dom McLoughlin all contributed with goals. The younger members of the team Ed Sandford and Nick Corbett were also impressively composed for their first varsity and I’m sure both will be big players in next year’s game.
It was too little too late though and we eventually lost the game 11-8. The game was definitely much closer than the score reflects and it is a great shame to have lost to a team we believe and had proved we are stronger than. We very much look forward to the water polo varsity match next year in Oxford!