Cambridge versus Oxford, a grudge match, the big one. Squads selected from hordes of budding athletes all looking for varsity glory. On the other hand Cambridge versus Oxford Brookes simply doesn’t pull in the fans. The Cambridge Water Polo Second team fielded a diminished squad due to clashes and illness taking away several key players, including the team’s regular goalie. Nine made the trip to Radley including a Swimmer, Dan Toy making his debut for the water polo team, keen to still win the game that at full strength they would have had on paper.
After making their way through the extensive labyrinth of boarding houses the team found the peculiar L-shaped pool and got ready for the game. It started off with a quick goal from the Oxford Brookes within the first 30 seconds. This took the Cambridge team by surprise but shaking off their cobwebs and through some solid team play Cameron Wallis scored an equaliser 31 seconds later. The rest of the first quarter was back and forth but for much of it Cambridge seemed to have the upper hand. Two more goals came from Captain Vytautas Pečiukėnas and Alessio Caciagli with the quarter finishing 3-3.
In the second quarter Cambridge built on their lead with fast paced play led by James Mok. Incessantly swimming up and down the pool he scored 3 goals. One of these assisted by Dan Toy who made a commendable steal and put his swimming to use leaving the Oxford Brookes defender languishing in his trail. Unfortunately, the step-in keeper Rhys Goodall showed his inexperience and let in two easy goals from 5-meters, not noticing that the opposition were far enough out to shoot from fouls on the arc. With a second goal from the Cambridge Captain thrown into the mix the Second Quarter finished 7-6. Cambridge were in the lead but not comfortably so.
The Third Quarter was a closer affair, both teams wrestling and sprinting trying to create opportunities but no goals came in the first 4 minutes. As the Cambridge team began to tire they called a rolling substitution. In a moment of madness, the substitutes leapt from the side into the pool only to be excluded seconds later. Oxford Brookes called a time out and Cambridge had to defend with two men down. Setting up on the posts and pushing the top of the arc the team worked really well blocking and pressuring the opposition who in the dying seconds of the man-up took a desperate shot at goal that was blocked by the keeper. Despite this excellent defence the fortunes of the Cambridge team began to turn. There fast paced play in the earlier quarters started to take effect and the team let some counters get past them and with two of their goals being disallowed due to questionable interpretation of the 2-meter rule Oxford Brookes took the lead. The third quarter finished 9-10.
Cambridge could see they needed something to take back the lead. Leonardo Buizza swapped in to play keeper and the team hoped that a slightly fresher pair of legs might help turn the tide. More targeted play from the Cambridge team drew fouls and several kick-outs but the team were unable to convert these opportunities. Oxford Brookes kept up the pressure and managed to reach the back of the net four times to Cambridge’s one. The Final score was 10-14.
The team’s performance showed great promise but due to a lack of subs their fitness was tested towards the end. The Man of the Match was James Mok whose repeated counter attacks netted him 6 of Cambridge’s 10 (should have been 12) Goals.