By Daniel Lafferty
I said I’d write the report when we won a match, so here we go:
Bolstered by the return of our beloved Santi, and restless after the same fixture was cancelled the week before, the Cambridge team travelled the hour long drive to our home pool (no I will not stop complaining about that) anticipating – at long last- a solid win. UEA should be trounced, if we hope to defeat Oxford Brookes and retain dignity in the league.
But, upon arriving in Northampton, no opposition were to be found. Being the dedicated water polo team that we are, we proceeded to use our pool time for a training session until, an hour in, a meek UAE team had the cheek to arrive.
Tired but undeterred, but we agreed to play.
The first quarter showed a staggering difference in class as the Cambridge men outswam their opponents scoring 4 goals in quick succession, Vytautas showed his metal as captain scoring two trademark goals from 5 metres and still managing to take care of the opposition’s pit player when in defence. One of the refs decided he didn’t like the look of Rhys, leading to a couple of early sending outs, but UEA failed to capitalise on their man ups so we retained a clean sheet after the seven minutes were up.
A different team entered the second quarter as fatigue took its toll on the Cambridge side. Man of the match, Chadwick, repeatedly made valiant efforts to find space and produce plays, as the team faltered behind him. A number of careless mistakes soon led to goals for the opposition, who came back to 4-3 by half time.
A change of attitude was needed as the team were becoming visibly frustrated. We were tired, yes, but we had to dig in. We clawed our way back, taking advantage of the opponent’s weak players as their lack of subs tired them out. A clumsy tap in from yours truly with a minute to go left the score back at a respectable 7-4 (whether or not I was within two metres was apparently not an issue for our refs).
The final quarter proved to be seven minutes too much for our keeper James. A last push by the opposition (including a last second goal) pushed us to the limit, but we narrowly retained the lead for a final score of 8-7.
It was not the result we’d hoped for, so it would be easy to walk away disappointed, but consideration has to be given to the circumstances. As we calmed on the drive home, the relief and satisfaction of a match won slowly sunk in.
Final mentions go to Dimitris, showing the occasional use of swimmers by winning the ball at the start of every quarter, and relative newbie Cameron, for lodging a respectable 2 goals on the score sheet.