Tellworth 104th Lacrosse Varsity Match
The 104th Lacrosse Varsity Match was held on the 22nd February in University Parks, Oxford, with both the men’s, women’s and mixed, Blues and seconds teams in action.
It was a victorious day for Oxford who won 4, drew 1 and lost 1.
The women's matches are available on YouTube with FTA sports.
Women's Blues: Oxford (11) - Cambridge (8)
Women's Swifts: Oxford (11) - Cambridge (10)
Men's Blues: Oxford (9) - Cambridge (5)
Men's Owls: Oxford (6) - Cambridge (1)
Mixed Blues: Oxford (6) - Cambridge (11)
Mixed Ospreys: Oxford (9) - Cambridge (9)
2020 Varsity Match Reports
Varsity is always one of the most important matches of the season for both teams, and so Oxford and Cambridge had been training hard in preparation. The teams had faced each other twice already, with Oxford winning both the previous BUCS matches. Going into the Varsity match, however, Oxford could not afford to be complacent and knew it would be a very competitive match. The first quarter was low scoring. The defence on both sides worked hard to put pressure on the attackers and there were several transitions up and down the field, before Cambridge finally scored the first goal after 3 minutes. Oxford were struggling to win draw control, and this was being capitalised upon by Cambridge player Erica Wallace who made some strong fast breaks from the draw. Unphased by this, Oxford player Cat Tiplady was able to slow her down and control her speed, to eventually win a turnover for Oxford.
Oxford weren’t able to keep enough possession in the first quarter and Cambridge were putting Oxford defence under a lot of pressure. Some exceptional saves from Maddy Sketchley (Oxford), left the score at 3-0 after the first 15 minutes.
At the first quarter time Oxford knew they could not afford to let the game continue in this way. A motivational team talk from Alex Drewe left the team confident that they could pull back from this and get themselves back in the game. In fact, Oxford won the first draw of the 2nd quarter and Bea Webber transitioned the ball into Oxford attack. After some controlled attack from Oxford, making the most of the possession they had missed in the first quarter, a goal was scored by Ellie Thompson. This was a very important point in the game for Oxford as they could feel their attack playing more confidently and becoming more threatening. Cambridge are given a yellow card after a push (a foul in lacrosse) but an excellent interception by Cambridge captain Sophie Tambyln means Oxford are not able to capitalise on being a player up. It was clear draw control would be very important in this game, with some fast players on both sides. Oxford draw control in the quarter was much improved and allowed them to have a lot more possession, and were able to equalise to 3-3. With a decisive goal scored by Bea Webber, Oxford pulled ahead and finished the half 4-3 up.
Although Oxford went into the second half with a slight lead, a one goal difference is nothing in lacrosse, so the game was far from decided. Both teams came out fighting off the back of motivational team talks from their respective coaches and captains. Oxford won the first draw of the third quarter and used a set attacking play to convert this possession into a goal, and marginally extend their lead to 5-3. For the remainder of this quarter Oxford dominated the draw controls and played some settled and spaced attack, as well as causing turnovers in the defensive end. However Cambridge answered this with goals of their own, and the third quarter ended 8-6 to Oxford.
Again Oxford started this period in the favoured position with a 2 goal lead. Following on from the third quarter, Oxford controlled the draws winning the majority. This initial possession gave Oxford a huge advantage as they were attacking off each draw. This advantage was apparent as the dark blues extended their lead to 11-6 with 3 consecutive goals, one notably being an amazing interception by Katie Rouse from the Cambridge goalie’s clear. Although an established lead, this did not phase Cambridge who answered the three Oxford goals by clawing back 2 of their own, and bringing the score to 11-8 with only a few minutes to go. Oxford once again gained possession off the draw, however some strong Cambridge defence forced a turnover, and it was up to the Oxford defence to hold the attack out until the end of the game. This was something that Lottie Hoskin took upon herself by coming out with a crucial interception in the last minutes to give Oxford back possession. Despite looking like they had started a comeback, unfortunately time was not on their side, and the game ended with Oxford winning the 104th Varsity Match 11-8.
After weeks and weeks of intense training and psyching ourselves up throughout the entire season for this highly anticipated event, the realisation on the final blow of the whistle that our team secured the win for this year's Oxford vs. Cambridge Women's 2nds lacrosse varsity 2020 brought along an overwhelming wave of joy, but also relief. The nerves that built up in our stomach as we saw the crowd growing on the side-lines rapidly turned into adrenaline, which fuelled a high intensity game from start to finish with great play from both teams.
Oxford stormed into the lead as soon as the first draw was taken, with Jade Yarrow sprinting down from the centre and scoring a power shot. The final minutes of the first quarter and the subsequent second one however were slower, with Cambridge scoring 6 goals off fast breaks, whilst Oxford only 3. This half time score of 6-5 to Cambridge forced us to refocus and up our intensity of play in the second half, whilst maintaining a level head.
Executing this allowed us to calmly work the ball into the goal to equalise the score at 6-6. From then onwards, the goals scored where even between both teams with the score climbing higher and higher until, in the final quarter, Oxford pulled ahead by two goals. This lead into a nail-biting finish to the game, with a final score of 11-10 to Oxford. The way in which we pulled ourselves up from losing, to dominating the second half made the celebrations afterwards even more rewarding, and made me proud to call myself a Swift.
The game started with an eagerly anticipated match up. For the third year in a row Ryan Power and Leander Crocker faced off against each other in the Blues Varsity match. The first contest was inconclusive yielding a 50:50 ground ball and an ensuing melee. Leander briefly came up with the ball before being checked by Oxford Captain Andrew Bithell, the ball crossed the restraining line and free play was called adding more players to the mix. Oxford stalwart and former MIT defenceman Nick Schwartz picked up the ball and successfully cleared the ball to the Oxford attack.
After the initial carnage, the match settled into an uneasy stalemate. Oxford dominated possession throughout the first quarter however were unable to convert this into a lead, Thomas Chalken proving virtually impassable between the Cambridge pipes. Cambridge converted a fast break into a cheap goal and Oxford found themselves suddenly behind. Fortunately, Oxford midfielder Christos drew Oxford level before quarter time.
The second quarter started well for the light blues, Leander winning the majority of the face offs and Cambridge converting two outside shots from Patrick Nevill and Leander. Oxford’s Pat Green managed to strike back with an outside shot of his own before the end of the half. The dark blues were left a goal behind at half time, their attackmen being kept quiet by aggressive Cambridge defenders.
Both sides struggled to get on top in the third quarter, despite both sides conceding man up situations, with players temporarily sent off. Cambridge scored another to put themselves two ahead of Oxford. However Daniel Woodside managed to get the better of the former England academy match up with Cambridge captain Jack Peacock, putting Oxford back within one goal, 4-3 down with just the fourth quarter remaining.
Fortune finally favoured the dark blues, as Casey Lake and Ed Smith capitalised on a 2 min man up to put themselves in the lead for the first time in the game. Cambridge moved their England U19s player and Captain Jack Peacock onto the wing for the faceoff in order to try and secure possession. Ryan Power had other ideas, remaining firm and keeping the face offs locked up in an exciting battle. On securing possession, Oxford quickly capitalised with their attackmen no longer guarded by specialist defenders, scoring three further goals in five minutes to take the game away from Cambridge. Cambridge scored a consolation goal but the Oxford lead was now too great to worry the home side.
The full time whistle blew and Oxford celebrated, being behind for nearly two thirds of the game making the final victory even sweeter. Cambridge can hold their heads up high however, taking the fight to a more experienced Oxford outfit and thwarting them for the majority of the game.
With Cambridge having enjoyed nearly 10 years of dominance in this fixture it would have been easy to assume Oxford came into the fixture as underdogs. However, a draw last year suggested the tide may have been turning and with both sides having a similar blend of experienced and new players this promised to be an extremely competitive game.
A scrappy face off eventually led to an Oxford attack, quick passing allowed a powerful shot from Kyle Duffy which was well saved by Tim - the Cambridge goalkeeper. This set up a repeated duel throughout the match with both of these two players eventually being voted the MVPs of their respective teams. Throughout the first quarter Oxford maintained possession well yet the quarter ended scoreless despite a barrage of shots from the Oxford team.
The second quarter was where Oxford truly hit their stride enjoying their most dominant spell of the match. Continued pressure on the Cambridge defence eventually led to the deadlock being broken, a fierce shot from Kyle Duffy left the goalie with no chance and gave Oxford the lead. The intriguing battle at the face off continued, once again there was no clear winner but thanks to the physicality of the Oxford midfield possession was eventually theirs. A powerful outside shot from Jacob Weeks doubled the Oxford lead which was quickly followed up by Sol White running from goal to goal, beating most of the Cambridge team along the way, to send Oxford into halftime three goals up.
Following half time Cambridge showed the fight to continue their unbeaten streak, a careless turnover from Oxford followed by fluid attacking play by Cambridge on the fast break lead to a goal. This was then backed up by several minutes of good play by Cambridge which required Oxford goalkeeper Chase Leeby to make a series of wonder saves to stop a complete takeover by the opposition offence. Near disaster struck as Oxford had two men temporarily sent off, Cal Hopkins and Sol White marshalled the defence through this time with both of them helping to strip Cambridge of possession and ensuring they were unable to score during this period. This was without a doubt the defining part of the match as Oxford bounced back to finish the third quarter with another goal by Kyle returning the three goal advantage as the teams headed into the final quarter.
The nerves of both teams were plain to see in the fourth quarter with both making careless errors which halted promising attacking play. These were finally settled as Kyle Duffy scored again to break the resistance of the Cambridge team with Oxford being able to play freely for the rest of the match. A powerful run and finish by Tom McCleery made it 6-1 and gave Oxford a score-line their performance deserved.
Oxford steam on to the pitch, bubbling with energy and excitement. With the friendly in November resulting in an unfavourable score of 15-7, we know we are the underdogs and have all to play for. The draw is a particular moment of tension: our wiry Captain Chris versus Cambridge Lacrosse Club President, lofty Kit. The game opens with a determined tussle in the centre circle; Oxford emerges triumphant. Chris storms down the pitch, ball in stick, and finishes with a sizzling shot.
Cam, Jude and Chris work wonders in the midfield, capitalising on the surprise from the opposition. Maya, Sophie and Claire in attack manipulate the defence to clear the way for another zinger from Chris. A shocked Cambridge use their gargantuan attackers to swiftly retaliate: great communication and 1v1 defence resist Cambridge at every turn, but Cambridge’s steely determination eventually gets them through, leaving the score tied at 2-2 at quarter time.
Fully fired up and ready to go for the 2nd quarter, Oxford seize the opportunity to work together in attack; Captain Chris gets one more in the back of the net. Claire Doyle, a convert from the Women’s side this year, wins a penalty. Surrounded by Cambridge behemoths, she passes to Sophie Rogers who fires a rapid shot into the bottom right corner. Despite some outstanding defence and great saves from veteran goalie Yoon, Cambridge manage to worm their way through and score a further 3 goals, narrowly closing the first half up by one goal with a score of 4-5.
After a much needed break at half time, Oxford return to the pitch looking to make up the distance. Cambridge (unfortunately) are getting back into stride; their twin giants (captain and club president) are slowly tiring but are making good use of their teammates by drawing defenders, who are quick to realise the danger but creating just-big-enough holes in defence…they put away two goals. The Oxford midfielders transition the ball safely up the field, but Cambridge clamping down brutally in defence means that turnovers in the attacking end are inevitable; the Oxford team begin to tire, but Chris manages to put away another goal…
After a stirring team talk and down by only two goals, Oxford bound back on to the pitch, ready to give it our all. Focusing on possession, we hold the ball in attack: sadly the pressure and nerves mean that our shots on goal aren’t converted, and Cambridge’s colossal midfielders sprint the ball down the pitch once again. Cambridge has the edge on fitness – our stick work starts to drop and tiredness begins to show, conceding 3 goals. The team are battling fatigue, ball hungry and playing their hearts out. The straight defenders make some admirable charges up the midfield, feeding the ball back into our attack: Claire remains calm and collected despite the odds and sprints round the crease, putting away a fantastic goal. The crowd roars; momentum in the team rises once again, but to no avail. The clock has run out.
The Oxford team gather to cheer on their rivals with tired smiles
The Ospreys had quite a dramatic varsity: the final score of 9-9 reflects an incredibly tense match. The first quarter got off to a very good, if unsettled start. Both teams were full of energy and going for the fast breaks. With the speedy duo of Matteo and Oli, Oxford finished the quarter with a lead of 4-1. The second quarter saw more settled attack from both teams and a lead of 7-4. Camilla made some amazing saves to fend off the Cambridge attack, and Cambridge gave Oxford quite a few free positions as a result of fouls which we were then able to score off. Georgie, Alice, and Fran were an impressively tight unit in attack.
After a half-time break of jelly beans and dolly mix, both teams came back with renewed energy, but sadly Cambridge slightly more so than Oxford: they scored three goals whilst Oxford’s Ben Darwent was only able to get one. Credit has to be given to Camilla and the Oxford defence. Cambridge might have scored many more if it wasn’t for the solid efforts and communication of Olha, Georgie, Millie, Ben, and Ivo. The score going into the final quarter was 8-7 to Oxford. Things were getting tense: a Cambridge goal was disallowed and both teams’ efforts were getting slightly frantic. Lucy, Millie, and Cesca attempted some possession play to prevent another Cambridge goal and, momentarily, everything seemed on track again after a wonderful goal from Oli. But, alas, it was not to be. Cambridge scored again to bring the score to 9-8 and, just as there were thirty seconds to go and complete exhaustion had set in, they were able to score another. The final result was a draw, but Oxford had been in the lead the whole way and ran out of legs at the last moment. If nothing else, this might just persuade more members of the team that our early morning fitness sessions really are necessary…
2019 Varsity Match Reports
The women’s blues had suffered two losses to an unbeaten Cambridge team this year. They had everything to prove in this year’s Varsity Match. Oxford started the game at high intensity, scoring a fast-break goal in the first few minutes, which was quickly answered by Cambridge. The first half was fought hard by both sides and the halftime score was 5-4 to Cambridge, with there never being more than a goal between the two teams. Another strong start for Oxford saw them lead by 8-7 in the final quarter, after 3 consecutive goals. Sadly, even the highly skilled defensive unit and superhuman saves from Maddy the goal keeper, couldn’t keep Cambridge out and the match ended with Cambridge winning 9-8. Oxford should be proud of their efforts and their battle against a hugely talented Cambridge side. The blues then went on to finish a successful season by making it to the semi-finals of BUCS.
After a big defeat earlier in the year, the Swifts returned to the same pitch to prove themselves against the mighty tabs. They started strong, quickly answering Cambridge’s first goal in the first few minutes. The first half was strongly contested, with the attack remaining level-headed despite enormous pressure. Excellent shooting from all attackers, with special mention to Claire Doyle, meant Oxford entered the second half down by just 2 goals. Despite strong 1-v-1 defence and some excellent saves by Tora, Oxford couldn’t quite make up the difference, and finished a very well-fought and exciting game losing 11-9. Every single member of the team should be proud of their hard-work, performance and improvement this season.
With all the hype of the build-up in the background, the Dark and Light Blues finally stood toe-to-toe ready to do battle for the 103rd time. This began with the faceoff which, as expected, was a fiercely contested battle between Ryan Power (Oxford) and Leander Crocker (Cambridge) who went punch for punch the whole game. Oxford came up with the first possession, but the first quarter was a back and forth affair with neither side able to take a foothold. The deadlock was finally broken by Oxford through first year Daniel Woodside, quickly followed by Varsity veteran Ed Smith to take Oxford to 2-0 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter again saw both teams struggle to find goal and the score remained unchanged at halftime. The second half saw Oxford offence begin to click and another first year, Casey Lake, added to the score line before entering the final quarter. Cambridge began to look like they might begin a comeback with two goals of their own, but the composure of the Oxoford team extinguished any chance of this with further goals from Woodside and Lake and an excellent individual effort from Christos Katsifis. The Dark Blues sealed out the game 6-2, much to the relief of captains Ryan Power and Cameron Montgomery and coach Gabe Barrie.
The second team started off their Varsity Match strong, winning the first faceoff against Cambridge. The players demonstrated throughout the match how important their wall ball sessions had been. These extra practices allowed a team comprised almost entirely of freshers to move the ball quickly down the pitch and spin it around Cambridge’s goal to put pressure on their defensive unit. Whist Oxford led for the entire second half, Cambridge never stopped fighting and put in some strong counterattacks. However, their hopes of a comeback were quietened by some excellent goals from Bill Wu. The most impressive aspect of the game was that every player fought for every ground ball and never eased their pressure on Cambridge despite their lead. Unfortunately, Cambridge were able to slip a goal in with only 2 minutes left on the clock. Despite a valiant last push from the whole team, the final whistle came too soon and the match finished with a 5-5 draw.
As always, the mixed team started the season by recruiting a huge number of players who have never touched a stick before. The captains, Bella and Harry, should be proud of their phenomenal efforts in training a squad of 30 players, who soon became a formidable force. The team lined up against Cambridge and despite Cambridge sneaking a goal in early on, the team retaliated with two quick-fire shots. Unfortunately, the middle half of the game enabled Cambridge to show off some incredible fast breaks and Oxford entered the final quarter a few goals down. However, the Oxford side continued to play extremely well. Their hard work and training came to show as they matched Cambridge for fitness and managed to keep their composure despite a disappointing score line. Although it wasn’t the result the team wanted, the players came away happy and should be proud of the fight they put up and their incredible achievement of coming together as a team in such a short amount of time. The team then finished a great season by making it to the semi-finals of the Mixed South League.