On their home (but more than slightly muddied) pitch, Cambridge faced off against the University of Birmingham on Wednesday. It was sure to be a challenge for Cambridge, as Birmingham is one of the top teams in the league and fielded of team of strong experienced players, while Cambridge, on this day, found itself with only one defensive pole, and with a mix of experienced players and beginners.
Anticipation and energy were high for the game, and attackman Pete Baddoo got everything off to a big start with a quick goal, which was soon answered by Birmingham, setting the pace for what would be an exciting and passionately played game by both teams. Good offensive movement and passing, and heads up D saw Cambridge leading after the first quarter, 4-3. Birmingham started the second quarter strong, with a couple of quick goals. Down two goals at this point, Cambridge called a time-out to ameliorate some of the weak points in their defensive slide package that Birmingham’s offense had been making good use of. Cambridge’s defense now shorn up, the momentum in Birmingham’s direction was slowed, and Cambridge held Birmingham to only one more goal that quarter. Both of Cambridge’s goals for the second quarter came from midfielder Krin Müskens, giving Krin his “hat trick” after a mere two quarters of play. The halftime saw both teams tied at 6-6.
A hotly contested third quarter continued the stalemate; nevertheless, as the third quarter progressed, it became increasingly clear that the tide was gradually turning in Cambridge’s direction. Cambridge’s beginners showed amazing heads, heart, and hustle, as they were becoming exponentially more comfortable on the pitch with each passing minute, and were thoughtfully implemented the feedback they were receiving from their teammates and coaches. This was all reflected in improvements in Cambridge’s movement on offence, tighter defense (particularly on fast breaks), and aggressive pursuit of ground balls. At the close of the third quarter, the stalemate of score, some strident slashes, and stepped-up spirits spawned a short scuffle, which saw both teams starting the first three minutes of the final quarter with a man in the penalty box, the Cambridge man perhaps fortunate to be allowed back on the field at all.
The fourth quarter began with both teams tied at 8-8. After a few changes of possession in the opening minutes, attackman Pete Baddoo got the quarter started with a goal, followed by two quick goals by midfielder, Matt Johnson, which turned the momentum decisively in Cambridge’s favour. Cambridge then slowed things down on the attacking side of the pitch, and their long possessions on offense, combined with stellar sliding and hustle in transition, found Cambridge keeping Birmingham to only one goal for the quarter. Cambridge’s sole pole, Will Barrie, came up with and cleared a number of critical ground balls, while astutely directing the defense and shutting down some strong Birmingham drives. Cambridge’s keeper, Stuart Cummings played lights-out D the second half, repeatedly making a number of crucial stops in one-on-one situations in which Birmingham’s attack had come up with ground balls directly in front of the crease. Late in the fourth quarter, attackman Pete Baddoo added two more goals that put the game away in Cambridge’s favour. Final Score: Cambridge 13, Birmingham 9.
Man of the Match: Matt Johnson
Cambridge 4 Birmingham 3
Cambridge 6 Birmingham 6
Cambridge 8 Birmingham 8
Cambridge 13 Birmingham 9
Pete Baddoo (6 G)
Matt Johnson (4 G, 1 A)
Krin Müskens (3 G)