Oxford University Water Polo Men's Blues Season Report 2022/23
As is often the OUWPC way, the season started with a bang. Hectic recruitment in fresher's week left the Oxford Blues travelling to the reigning champions' home turf in Bristol having not yet trained with or even met their new coach, Colin Gasper. A scrappy match ensued and although Oxford lost, the skill and passion displayed from players, both old and new, left both Captain (Michael Hampshire) and Coach Colin optimistic about what was to come. A newcomer -- Kervin Tsai -- received the Man of the Match award after a strong performance in the centre back position, where he would stay for the rest of the season.
Storming into Hilary with only one game in the season remaining, Oxford were still sat in second place -- until Bristol slipped up against a feisty Bath team (14:16), which left the door open for Oxford to win the league against Imperial. To warm up for the match, Oxford played an energetic RAF team which they dispatched with style (??). Perhaps a little overconfident from this performance and the 9-match unbeaten streak, Oxford started slowly against Imperial, which quickly proved the biggest game of the season. Going into the third quarter, Oxford had a five-goal deficit to overcome. The crowd rallied behind boys, with the Women's captain, Maya Lemaire, quoted at half time saying 'they love the drama, we all know they'll still win'. And that they did. Displaying incredible spirit and team strength, the Blues fought back to win the match (16:15) and the league. With no single standout player, the whole team was awarded the MotM Award. Being crowned BUCS South Champions also qualified us for the European University Games.
Overall, the season was a huge success both on and off the pitch. The lads in the first team fostered a passionate, honourable, and fun culture which enabled greater unity with both the second's and women's teams. Social events were busy and harmonious and attendance at the sports club night steadily grew throughout the season. On the pitch, despite losing a close fought Varsity match, the boys did incredibly well to win a tough BUCs South Title, a feisty Town Vs Gown match, and qualify for the European University Games. The season can only be described as a roaring success and there is a lot to look forward to both this summer and next year.
Most Valuable Player: Kervin Tsai. Our Singaporean Centre Back Kervin has been a vital player both defensively and in attack throughout the year. He has always performed on the big occasions and demonstrated both strong technical ability and an impressive understanding of the game.
Player's Player: Vincent Luscombe and Ben Griffin. President Vincent has shown unmatched dedication to the team and the club as a whole; he has been a positive influence on squad culture and is well liked throughout the club. He is looking forward to his retirement from Committee and will end his OUWPC career next season decorated with a Full Blue, a Varsity win, some European gameplay, and a BUCS South Title. At the other end of the spectrum, newcomer Ben is just getting going, having arrived this year for a PHD. Ben was immediately embraced by the team after donning an impressive Shrek costume to Freshers Curry and putting in a strong performance at Bridge. The veteran player has been an experienced voice throughout the season and will doubtless be a big name on the team sheet for years to come.
Most Improved: Finlay Harris. Finlay returned to OUWPC this year with a vengeance. Not only has he proved himself as a lethal attacker, but he has also become a vocal and necessary voice during tough spots. He steps up in the big moments and has helped people around him to the same. He, along with Jack Sun, will be two keys to success for the team next year.
Top Goal Scorers: Michael Hampshire -- 63, Vincent Luscombe -- 35, Finlay Harris -- 17
Major King: Kervin Tsai -- 13, Michael Hampshire -- 13, Rushil Shah -- 12
Written by Michael Hampshire and Jack Sun (Captain and Vice-Captain)