Some of the greatest film series have been ruined by a third film: Godfather III, Matrix Revolutions and of course Shrek III, so there was understandable trepidation when Oxford 2s faced off against Cambridge 2s for the third and final time for the 2017-18 season, the two previous league wins like a cryptocurrency in an internet-free zone: useless.
As the match approached, the tension lay heavy in the air, like a writer heavy-handedly forcing tension into a scenario. One man felt no such pressure, as he eased Oxford into the lead just 18 seconds into the match, Jonner Donner-Wittkopf expertly spinning his man and beating the ‘keeper. He was joined on the scorecard by Thomas Morcom, who doubled the Oxford lead going into the first rest period.
The relentless full-bath press of the Oxford, facilitated by a 6-man bench, combined with brilliant front-marking of the pit by Louis Waloschek and others, limited Cambridge to speculative shots from distance, and eased Oxford into a 5-1 lead at half time, goals coming from the two above-mentioned scorers and the mercurial Barclay Bram.
The third quarter was a far tighter affair, as after two Oxford goals to open the quarter, the dark blues attack was quelled by a strong Cambridge defence. The highlight of the quarter was a Hail-Mary by the Cambridge keeper to their cherry-picker, who was unmarked on the 8m, being intercepted by the Oxford keeper and Captain Jack Counsell, who flicked it back for an easy goal for Morcom. The quarter ended with the score 7-3, with Fergus O’Leary inked into the goal scoring ranks.
Oxford earlier in the season had let a 7-1 lead lapse into a narrow 8-7 win, so were very aware of Cambridge’s ability when the game breaks down to counter-attacks and counter-counters. With this in mind, the dark blues continued to dictate the play the way that had been bountiful for the previous three intervals; the full-press sealed as tightly as two of the flat Lego pieces on top of each other. The quarter was scoreless for the opening 5 minutes, and when Cambridge took a time out with 3 minutes remaining, only stupidity could allow a 5-goal swing. An Oxford man-up with 2.20 left was converted with aplomb by Bram, and then with 26 seconds remaining, Waloschek fired in his first to send the dark blues into rapturous applause and into the long night.
Final score 9-3 to Oxford. In the three years that this writer has played in the second team Varsity, Oxford has never been stronger than in 2018 and debatably the scoreline was flattering to Cambridge. It was the perfect apex to a great season, and I’ll leave you with a Wayne Gretzky quote. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”