Men's seconds match report
HOWARD FRIMAN, MEN'S SECONDS CAPTAIN
The first quarter started off strongly for Oxford with an early goal from Seb Burleigh followed by an equaliser 4 minutes later from Cambridge. With nerves firing and pulses raising, an ejection from each side on successive attacks failed to be converted. Half way into the first quarter the ball found centre forward Francesco Dellaporta who put away, what would be his first of three goals against the Cambridge keeper. Luca Rotolli, the captain, buried another ball in the far net, however both attempts from Oxford to dominate the score line received replies, levelling the score at 3-3 as the teams returned to their benches.
The swim off, won by Matt Courtis, allowed Oxford to lead the first attack. But the opposition pressed hard from the onset, putting our passes under pressure but crucially opening up options for pit. Effective centre back play from Cambridge left their goalie with just two easy saves from 2m – opportunities Oxford would have loved to have seen converted. A white cap saw through the dark blue defence and managed to get another past our goalie. With just 2 minutes left on the clock for the first half, a major foul from our side and an immediate time-out call from the far bench let Cambridge take the advantage, 6 against 5. But despite a forest of Oxford arms the opposition were able to put a clean goal past us, leaving the score at 5-3 at half-time.
Within a minute of the third quarter the dark blue found a quick reply in the form of ex-goalie Matt Dawe, putting Oxford back in the running, only to be met with a penalty against us which we conceded to go 2 goals down once more. Two man-ups, one at each end were confronted with strong blocks which saw off the attempted shots at goal. A wide arc in attack, and a tight press from Cambridge opened up the chance for a shot from pit which Oxford seized. Perhaps the most important goal of the match for us up to that point, and with the momentum favouring the dark blues, Oxford delivered two more goals within a minute of the horn bringing the score to 6-7, Oxford edging ahead.
The Rosenblatt pool ignited as Oxford Mens Seconds dived in for the final swim off, with the score uncomfortably close but nonetheless swinging in our favour. Cambridge hit back hard breaking the Oxford defence and scoring a further 3 goals leaving only 2:30 on the clock with Oxford 2 goals behind at our final time-out. A glimmer of hope was provided by Seb Burleigh who put one past the keeper with little more than a minute and a half on the clock. Over the final couple of attacks the light blue goalie faced a myriad of shot. A backhand from pit engaged with the cross bar but came down on the wrong side, a hard fast shot from the captain on 5m just surpassed the top of the goal. But it wasn’t enough, with 20 seconds remaining, a turnover gave Cambridge the ball and within seconds it was over.
Oxford had fought a battle in the pool but it was Cambridge who had prevailed. It was a deserved win for an arguably fitter and more experienced team and although it is a tough game to lose I am pleased that the boys put there all into it and came so close to victory. The Seconds Varsity match was a showcase of physicality, precision and fitness – surpassing that of the teams of years before and setting a high bar for the teams of years to come. Overall the Seconds put in a very encouraging performance which they should all be very proud of and I wish them all the best next year. I would like to thank the team for the effort they have put in this year with training and matches and on behalf of all the 2nds I would like to thank Mike Proudfoot for his contribution to the team, for coaching us in preparation and for imparting his knowledge as a positive and calm voice on the bench.
Women’s Match report
alice richardson, women's captain
Despite leaving the first quarter 3-0 down, Oxford bounced back in the second and third quarters and were snapping at the Light Blues’ heels with their come-back making the final two minutes of the game some of the most impressive, entertaining and nail-biting moments of Oxbridge water polo many spectators had seen. Whilst Oxford were narrowly defeated by the Light Blues with a final score of 7-6, Oxford had a high number of shots on goal that made them a genuine threat throughout. It felt like the game good have gone either way and all Oxford players deserve to feel extremely proud of their individual and collective performances.
Men's firsts MATCH REPORT
jake studholme, Men's CAPTAIN
The game started quite cagey with nerves clearly showing on both sides. Oxford scored a quick goal that seemed to surprise the goalie from a tight angle but Cambridge came back quickly with a solid goal from the top of the ark and a well worked man-up to put them 2-1 up at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter again went Cambridge’s way with their goalie, Ryosuke Yamada, making some fine saves to keep out all but one of Oxford’s shots. Cambridge on the other hand managed to capitalise on a couple of exclusions and went 4-2 ahead at half time. In spite of the score line Oxford were playing well with a ferocious press, led by Joe Ortiz in pit defence making it almost impossible for the light blues to get anywhere near the goal, while strong attacking play meant that Oxford were way ahead of Cambridge in the number of shots taken. The only thing holding them back from taking the lead was shot conversion.
In the third quarter everything changed Oxford’s way. Solid defence and continued excellent goal keeping from Ben Hall meant that Cambridge were only able to add one to their tally. In attack the sustained pressure of the dark blues started to wear down Cambridge’s defence. Strong positional play in the pit forced Cambridge to play a drop which was picked apart by calm and clinical attacks. Freddie North provided a breakthrough with 2 goals from the top of the D within 40 seconds of each other and this was then followed by 2 more goals from pit from Jake Studholme and Neo Seh Woon putting Oxford 6-5 up. This sudden change of momentum forced Cambridge to take a time-out during a man-up in a last attempt to stop the Oxford surge, this moment proved to be pivotal with Dom Qasrawi masterfully stealing the ball during their attack and breaking free to sprint back up the pool and keep up the Oxford momentum. With 6 seconds left in the quarter Cambridge conceded an exclusion and Oxford called a time-out so as to ensure that they could start the 4th with the extra man. Although this had been the intention, Shek Ki Huin saw a chance and slotted a wonderful goal from wing with 1 second left on the clock. The score was now 7-5 Oxford and the momentum heavily in the dark blue’s favour.
The fourth quarter cemented the importance of fitness, temperament and strong defence in the Oxford team. A huge defensive set saw turnover after turnover during the Cambridge attack and special mention has to go to Dom Qasrawi for his immense effort during this time. The game had fully turned Oxford’s way and with another goal for Neo Seh Woon and 2 for Joe Ortiz while Cambridge only mustered one more goal from their captain, Ben Walker, (his 4th of the night). The game ended to the huge elation of the home fans with a score of 10-7 to Oxford!