Varsity this year took place in Oxford on Saturday 22nd of February, on a cold but clear day.
Following a rather scrappy run around for the Alumni match, the Eagles came out strong into their match. It was a strong performance in the first half, but with Cambridge struggling to convert possession to goals. Nonetheless some strong defensive performances prevented Oxford from scoring either, leaving the score 0-0 at half time. In the second half Oxford exploited some match ups well and found their rhythm, the Eagles still struggled to utilise their possession effectively, and despite some strong performances on ground balls and aggressive defence ultimately lost out 6-1 to Oxford. Man of the match goes to goalie Tim Okabayashi for shutting down the Oxford shooters.
The Blues match was an intense affair, both teams putting in highly aggressive performances, and, according to CULC veteran Will Barrie, Cambridge playing some of the best team lacrosse he’s ever seen from CULC.
The first quarter was a little nervous from all involved, with both teams taking a little while to settle. Once we did it was clear that it was going to be a close match, Cambridge effectively shut down the Oxford offence, and whilst there were weaknesses to exploit in Oxford’s defence, Cambridge were struggling to retain possession consistently to exploit them. Oxford opened the scoring, with an unopposed alley dodge from a miscommunication sinking the ball in low. Immediately from the face off ably won by Leander Crocker, Cambridge struck back with a fast break leading to a goal for Monty Matson. This left the score at a quarter time at one all.
In the second quarter Cambridge started to find their feet a bit in offence, using some of the plays we had worked on to score two goals in quick succession, though we still struggled to retain the ball for long, and had far too many penalties, approximately 5 for every 1 penalty from Oxford. This sloppiness eventually told with a double man down resulting in a goal for Oxford. Score at half time 3-2 Cambridge.
The third quarter was again a little bit nervy for both teams, Oxford were visibly rattled having expected to walk over a team playing two divisions below them. The Cambridge defence kept up its incredible performance pretty much crippling the Oxford attack, aside from one unnecessary slide leading to a goal from Oxford’s main threat. Cambridge struck back later in the quarter with a goal for Sam Allen in a man up play but otherwise struggled to keep much of the ball, and to keep men on the pitch, with a 2 minute penalty for unnecessary roughness. Nevertheless going into the final quarter the score was 4-3 Cambridge.
In the final quarter Cambridge switched off a bit, particularly in the midfield, and the 75% possession Oxford had had all game finally began to tell, slides didn’t send and a lack of fresh legs allowed Oxford shots from far too close range. This slip in intensity let Oxford score 5 goals (I’m pretty sure the referees got the score wrong), and whilst Cambridge did get 1, it was too little to hold onto the match, with Oxford eventually winning 8-5 (9-5 according to the referees, but no one has been able to clarify which of the Oxford team scored). Some outstanding performances from Captain Jack Peacock and George English in defence. Man of the match went to Thomas Chalklen in goal.
General points from the match were, Cambridge gave away far too many penalties, and gave away possession far too easily, particularly in attack, there were too many attempts at “hero balls” rather than playing the sets we have used in the season that we know work. It may have been nerves but handling was quite sloppy in comparison to our usual and in comparison to Oxford. The post varsity dinner was a bit of a disappointment, due to the thoroughly unsportsmanlike behaviour of certain Oxford players, let us hope for a more civilised behaviour in the future.