Match Report: A Hard Loss Against Bristol

Men’s First Water Polo vs Bristol

The car ride to Bristol was both scenic and life-threatening (shout-out to Nicola for an interesting interpretation of the highway code). We stopped for a light snack at a lovely little hole in the wall where we quickly carbed up for the war ahead of us. On arrival, after a brisk warm-up, the game was afoot.

Defending game on point (Accredited to: FineTime Photography)

The first quarter was neck and neck, some truly great polo from us and some dubious refereeing resulted in the quarter ending 4-4. The second quarter is, unfortunately, where the game ran away from us for a variety of reasons, namely fitness and team chemistry. However, I do believe we played the better water polo (especially in the first and third quarters). One particularly memorable moment was the heavenly lob from our TJ, Ben Tinkler-Davies (BTD). The ball soared into the top corner smoother than anything. Another lovely moment was the penalty save from Brian in the final quarter, where he read the opposition like a book getting not one, but two hands to the ball and cradling it back to the safety of Cambridge possession. Goal Scorers: Adam (2), Rob (2), BTD (2), Isaac (1), Alex (1), Youssef (1). Final score: 19-9.

Cambridge on the Attack (Accredited to: FineTime Photography)

Women’s Water Polo go head to head with Bristol

Women of the match:
Mainly those with names beginning with L were voted for: Laura (Robinson), Laure (Talarmain) and Lara (Tritton) and Ailsa (Kiely) for their first BUCS match which is a big step up. Lucy (Morgan) for super passes in attack, in the right place at the right time.

Quarter 1:
The first BUCS (National University League) match of the season was against the previous top team in the first division- Bristol. It’s early in the year, and the team have been training together for only a month, with the new coach Bygraves standing by at every match, making sure we play our best. But The Cambridge Women’s Water Polo team were keen to travel up early to support the Cambridge Men’s side. Music on the way up included Berlin’s club scene style (for 4 hours as this was the only CD present) and though legal parking in Bristol’s Clifton is hard to find, we all got to the university’s pool on time. After watching the Cambridge men intensely, the 10 women showing a threatening (winking) lion on their costumes entered the water, warming up with their brand new, Christmas themed and super grippy water polo balls.

The match started up speedily, and Robinson’s description sums it nicely – “Our first quarter was a tricky one- we were too static. Giving Bristol lots of time to set up in defence and counter off us to attack”. Cambridge conceded 6 goals, soon realising that Bristol was just as strong as in previous years, and that this would be a tough match. But with 30 seconds to go, Bristol got an exclusion. Thanks to loud shouts and large hand gestures, Ashley, our coach notified the referees of a time out – a one minute break allow for some quickfire tactics and a well- set up man-up attack. And it paid its worth, as Schubert banged the goal in the corner. 6-1

‘Looking wonderfully cool’ (Accredited to: FineTime Photography)

Quarter 2:
Many one-on-one counter attacks kept goalkeeper Benezit busy, and with the lack of defensive support it was hard to keep the goals from whizzing into the corners of the 3m wide goal. Another man-up situation was created as Bristol’s Pitsika got excluded for swimming over the top of Schubert, and though passing was speedy to keep the goalkeeper moving, no shot got through the strong defence. A lost hat from Irwin caused a short kerfuffle, a dive down to the bottom of the pool to retrieve the hat. But for now she had swapped from number 8 to 13. With 2 exclusions from Schubert and Turrell, and a number of speedy counter attacks, Bristol scored another 6 goals in this quarter, and at the loud bleep after those 8 minutes of play we swapped ends, refuelled from our bottles and relaunched.

Half time:
What had happened to give a 12-1 at half time? And could we make a comeback? Bristol was strong- we new this, as they are one of the best teams in the country. Their national player Dean was in the water having scored a third of the goals against us.

Looking for a way through           (Accredited to: FineTime Photography)
Looking for a way through (Accredited to: FineTime Photography)

Quarter 3:
But turn it around we did- in the second half. The next 8 minutes of play were collected, careful and what we wanted and needed. Feng with her swimming ability sped down to the corners, often free for the perfect pass, and helping us to get the ball down to attack, then a quick pass, then shot. Within the first minute, Turrell got the ball to the back of the net- one of her classic loops scoring our second goal. Another exclusion from Schubert saw 20 seconds of man-down defence, during which Dean scored once again. But not disheartened, we launched attack after attack and made sure to sprint back in defence to catch those counters. Tritton and Talarmain, still new to the team, took on players wherever needed, their awareness being a great asset and Robinson took some mighty shots, her increasing confidence in attack showing through. Thanks to Kiely’s hard work in attack to get free from Bristol’s tight grabs and moving into the right positions, another attack resulted in a shot from Turrell, securing our third goal. In the last minute, direct from a centre ball after Bristol’s 15th goal, a quick careful pass over the top to Schubert saw her score, to end the quarter with a much improved score of 12-4.

Quarter 4
The team was exhausted, with only 3 players on the bench at any time to jump in and sub. But that would not stop us, as we wanted the last quarter to be as strong as the third. Some sneaky shots from Bristol saw 3 more goals, including from their main scorer Pitsika. She was fast and strong, and hard to stop. But the whole team, held strong and pressed Bristol out in defence, while fighting against their grabs, pushes and kicks. Yes- that’s water polo. In this battle, our fifth goal came again from Turrell, and what a beauty it was. The last two minutes of play where a flurry: first a timeout to set up a strong attack, an exclusion giving us another man-up, and some erratic passing landed the ball in the defenders hands again. A quick counter from them, and a corner for Bristol in the last 10 seconds, but no more goals. In Robinson’s words: ““All in all a great learning experience” and the 18-5 score was an achievement for us, especially in the second half. Schubert looked at Turrell once the match had ended to to give her a ‘well played’ nod, and her only comment was “Just checking I’ve still got both nipples!”

With our new grippy balls!
With our new grippy balls!

We are now looking forward to the next BUCS matches against Cardiff and Bath.