“”‘Tour is go!’ – Ben Walker” – Péter Juhasz” – Rhys Goodall
On the 8th of January, miraculously, every UK-based member of the men’s and women’s water polo team met at Stansted Airport for the two hour flight to Budapest. Full from the weeks of break and holiday-ing, the teams were ready to dive into training, but on the first evening they most definitely were not ready for the -15 weather that Budapest had to offer.
Despite the cold, the teams bundled up every morning and made the short walk to the BVSC Zuglo Training Facilities. The facilities boasted at least three indoor, double deep pools and additional kiddie and outdoor pools, a nice contrast to the BUCS regulation non-compliant Ley’s pool. For two and a half hours every morning that week, the teams claimed the 50m pool, rebuilding their strength and stamina, and working on basic drills and new techniques away from the distractions of the usual Cambridge term. Rob Gourley, men’s co-captain this year, accurately surmised “not only was tour this year essential for working on tactics in the water for the team, but also for team bonding, with social events occurring most nights.”
In true water sport style, every non-training and non-eating activity was still on water. From an afternoon at Aquaworld Water Park, filled with heart-stopping slides and traditional saunas, to a ‘rest-morning’ of skating – the teams couldn’t escape water, in whatever form it came. And as we adapted to the cold (in reality the temperature just rose) the streets of Budapest become home to the usual water polo tour antics; TJ’s carrying hats and following friends, while Péter and Balint kept us from getting too bewildered and lost.
In the afternoons, with the help of Péter, matches against the local teams were arranged. The men and women were in the water for an hour and a half each, learning what it meant to play against teenagers who’d been trained for water polo from infancy. Half of the women’s team had only taken up the sport in October, and their growth and development throughout tour was incredible. By the last matches, which the British Ambassador to Hungary came to watch, everyone was a lot more confident. Though we didn’t keep score, the men’s team may have even won their match.
After a wonderful farewell dinner, and a few new fines, the teams were ready to return to the pleasant Cambridge weather, ready to play 8 matches within the next three weeks, and, most importantly, ready for Varsity 2017! #GDBO
Twas the night before Bridgemas, when all through the town
Polo players were sleeping, ready for the drive down;
To Cardiff then Bath for two crucial BUCs games,
In hopes that the match report would mention their names;
But the big weekend did not to go to plan,
And it was at 3pm that our troubles began,
With 5 in one car and 5 in the other,
A broken bag set our start back an hour-
Then the men’s team called, saying they could not make it out
So the girls were alone on this long Bridgemas route.
With Black Friday traffic, three ambulances seen,
Didn’t make it to Cardiff, we were minus one team!
After frantic phone calls on a cold winter’s night,
A Bridgemas miracle! – Kind strangers answered our plight.
While one car turned back the other made it to Bath,
Where we drank Champagne and sat by the hearth
The next day bought pancakes and ice-skating and
Christmas markets and scones and lovely new friends.
More rapid than eagles our players they came,
Ref whistled, Captain Laura called them by name: “Now! Lara, now! Becky, now! Francesca and Lucy, “On, Ella, Frances, Ailsa! On, Laura and Katie!
First quarter of the game did not go our way,
But in the second Francesca saved the day
A brilliant goal followed by a second from Captain.
While pushing top players out stopped their goals from happ’ning.
Some top saves from Lucy (her first full game in goal)
Including one-on-one’s – she was on a roll!
When we got the ball we didn’t give in to fear,
Passing up the wing until we were near,
Where Laura and Frances were able to score,
And Lara her great first in quarter four.
Eight man ups and with some great passing from Katie,
Cambridge’s final score of 5-7 meant victory!
Player’s player to Lucy for fab goal-saving,
And Francesca’s defence and Lara’s goal – amazing!
And so Cambridge exclaimed, as we drove out of sight—
Happy Bridgemas to all, and to all a good night!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!”
We are now looking forward to the next BUCS matches against Cardiff and Bath.
The day started quite well, as most of the team turned up at the right place at the right time. Except for the keeper. He was nowhere to be seen. But we set off nonetheless, and after picking up our star player Youssef from Churchill we headed for Warwick. It was only logical that he should get on-demand chauffeur services because he had to preserve as much energy as possible. The chauffeur service paid off because he performed some cheeky manoeuvres, apparently leaving both teams in awe. Not quite sure what exactly he did, but considering he spent an hour mentioning it, it must have been pro.
There were some nice shots (almost goals) by Cam Wallis and Youssef Badr. Warwick’s 1st team was quite aggressive but no one got too seriously injured, though the blow to our egos was catastrophic. Igor failed his aim of respecting the rules and got sent out in the first minute of play. Of course the team lived up to their brainy Cambridge name by failing to count to 6 and the second quarter almost started with more than half the team out of the water.
In other parts of the pool, #roadtofirstteam Leo decided to debut as a keeper in the BUCS league and did a solid job. He is quite sad to report that this was also his last game as keeper in the BUCS league and he hopes that everyone who supported him can respect his decision.
At the end of the game Peter went missing in his search for a vending machine, which turned out to be 5 meters away from the changing rooms. But we found him eventually, and even learned the most efficient way to contact him: by email, for future notice.
On the way back we made a quick detour into Leicestershire after Youssef’s stellar performance as co-driver. Everyone bailed on the post-match Maccy D’s so they were not able to watch Igor attempt to shark on the UEA badminton team.
Shoutouts to Lafferty for top notch hat carrying as TJ. MVP goes to Leo for stepping up to play keeper (still trying to find the actual keeper, if anyone knows where he went…). The score will remain unmentioned because it’s not something anyone wants to think about, ever. The team lost – by a lot – but in doing so, they gained conviction and hope for the future.
It might have been short notice, 48 hours in fact, but with high team spirits from our win against Oxford on Sunday, we rallied the troops and eagerly awaited our 3rd match of the season against the Surrey Stags. After our busy days and the challenge to even find our zip cars, we finally set off with Spotify in toe and made our way to Surrey’s incredible pool. It knocks the socks off ours, but The Leys is home and we love it (ish)!
Upon meeting Surrey’s captain, we were once again expecting a friendly Upolo match because, like us, they also had newbies on their team; and apparently the girls weren’t planning on any costume grabbing in the game – oh, how times changed when the whistle was first blown! Still, a massive shout out here to Katie Puhorit (‘always on the wing when needed’), Beki Mills and Eleonora Garau for amazing first matches for Cambridge – we’re so proud of you girls!
Our first quarter was hugely promising, with goals from Lucy Morgan [(wonder) woman of the match for amazing attack, goal scoring, as well as a fantastic attempt in goal!], Ella Irwin (always on form) and, our very own captain, Laura Schubert. With only 2 goals being scored the Surrey ladies, we were up and on target after the first 7 minutes.
Lucy Morgan scored again in the 2nd quarter, with a fantastic shot. So, despite a 3rd goal by Surrey’s Buttle, we were leading 4-3 at the halfway stage. Hopes were high after our 3 newbies all played fantastically, making their debuts in this quarter. Despite this, it was perhaps the 3rd quarter and lack of conversions in these 7 minutes that saw our weakest part of the match. Legs were tiring and, unfortunately, with fouls not being blown (to our new coach Ashley’s dismay), it was all-square with only the final quarter to go. We weren’t giving up though because that simply is not the Cambridge way.
The last quarter was exceptionally tight, with Schubert and Irwin once again showing what fantastic players they are, scoring 2 and 1 goal(s), respectively. The scoreboard remained at 7-6 for a while, and we had so almost clinched the victory. We defended hard, but the home captain showed her form and with less than 1 minute to go it was 7-7. With 42 seconds to play, we had one final attack, only for Irwin to come so close by hitting the bar. The final 34 seconds were, therefore, extremely tense as we could not allow Surrey to score in their final counterattack. More nerve-wracking still was that the Surrey girls were awarded a corner with 5 seconds to go. Screams like “press” and “play down the clock” came from the bench, and that’s exactly what we did. The final whistle was blown; and, although we were so close to the victory, a draw of 7-7 is still one to be proud of!
Now, all exhausted and smelling of chlorine but still smiling, it was almost time for us to say goodbye and make the 2 hour journey home. Our roadtrip was great, but by 1am we were all home safely and ready for bed. Only our wonderfully supportive captain could fully describe the feeling at the end of the trip, “For some strange reason, I enjoy driving 4 hours on a Tuesday night and splashing around in chlorinated liquid for an hour; and it’s mostly because of the fact I’m playing with all of you, seeing you all (and myself too) improve every time, and knowing I’ll get home again because you’re in the car with me shouting directions/whispering ‘red light’!”
It may be a goodbye for now, but roll on Saturday against Bristol. Good luck girls – you’ll ace it!
The first time we face O*ford this season – game one of three, culminating in the most important match of the year. And what a wonderful match it was. The second match of the season brought in more new players and a better-established strategy regarding the attack. We did some good passing down the wings to work it found the arc. 2-first-quarter goals were from Frances Turrell and one was from Captain Schubert (her first of many this game). That along with our solid defence gave us an early lead, putting pressure on Oxford for the rest of the match.
The second quarter was a little tougher with one shot sneaking past from O*ford returned only towards the end of the quarter by Schubert. But still an impressive commitment from our defence prevailed, even through several man-down situations; thanks to the defence and Bénézit’s goal keeping we managed to keep the 3-point gap.
We got back to our top form in the third quarter with 3 points scored by Schubert and Irwin, setting up some formidable attacks and getting the whole team involved for the goals. Our cohesive performance and the use of a pre-game tactics session paid off and we kept our focus throughout. But it may be time to bring back the ‘more you shoot the more you score’ chant as a few opportunities for scoring went unused after hard work to get the ball in.
However, the final quarter brought with it some tiredness – as can only be expected after a hard worked game. The result was a few missed opportunities, especially when attempting new man-up defences. Three shots still whizzed past the O*ford goalie, as we managed to keep our spatial awareness and keep our eyes on O*fords defence. And so we maintained our three goal lead from the beginning, and held on for a win!
Huge congratulations to Hobson and Tritton for their first games playing for Cambridge, and to Schubert for an incredible scoring record, and determined play earning her the title of woman of the match!
We look forward to beating you again in February O*ford. #GDBO #Varsity2k17
The Birmingham match, not a pretty affair,
It was men vs gorillas (with extreme body hair);
Though Phil scored our first wonder goal of the match,
They’d ordered goals in a much larger batch;
James took a firing, from their giant team,
And lines like “GET BACK”, “NOT AGAIN”, did he scream;
With a goal in each quarter, we put up a fight,
And the odd long-range shot, with goal barely in sight;
A bench all too happy to offer advice,
And if one ball went out we threw two more in, twice!
A final goal scored by our MVP, V,
He kept a cool head in this game, tough and messy;
But this bumbling, Birmingham band of baboons,
Sadly took home victory on this afternoon.
The bus driver’s bubbly soon drowned all our sorrows,
On reflection it wasn’t so bad, we supposed:
More likes on our pictures, so Ganendra says,
Our resident expert on FB likes for days,
It wasn’t all-bad, though the score was a landslide;
We’ll be coming back stronger, and take this in our stride.
After just two weeks of training, the women’s water polo team travelled down to the Leys for their first match. I use the word ‘travelled’ as a force of habit; this is one of the only games that won’t include at least an hour-long journey to reach a pool that complies with water polo regulations. But I digress.
Expecting a friendly Upolo match, and still awake given there was no long drive, the women approached the game without too much apprehension. The first quarter showed promise, as the team kept a close eye and solid defence on KCL’s stronger players. Only one shot whizzed past the new goalie Blandine Bénézit. Shortly thereafter, Feng fired a return goal in to make it known that we weren’t only here for the fun.
The second quarter saw Cambridge’s strongest attack, yielding a total of five goals against KCLs two. But just as our scoring picked up, so the more light hearted nature of the game decreased. Former Captain Turrell victoriously retaliated against some aggressive play with a goal, mixed in with another solid two from Captain Schubert. Confusion over the rules of playing in a shallow pool did not interfere with the team’s defence as they implemented a few drops onto KCL’s stronger players. As the quarter drew to a close, the Cambridge women were feeling comfortable setting into a 6-3 lead.
But as the game drew on, it got much less attractive. The last quarter was filled with intensity, as KCL surged back, eager to prove the game was not yet over. With some ‘unfavourable’ refereeing, KCL pounded in five goals against the frustrated Cambridge team. But a highlight of the quarter was a decisive shot from Flaherty her second of the game, proving once again that Canadians are a real asset to our team (I’m not biased I swear). The shot boosted morale and the team surged back stronger in the last few minutes, but alas it was not and the final score fell 9-11 for a KCL victory.
Despite the loss, a hearty congratulations goes out to Lamaison, Giordaniello, Talarmain, and Bénézit for their first game for Cambridge. There was plenty of potential in the water and the team looks forward to harnessing it for the match against O*ford next week, where they will be welcoming even more of the new squad into the water.
Cambridge 1st Team 1-1 Army
After a fantastic land warm up by the team which included a walk to the wrong school in Bishops Stortford, the team were in great spirits before the tournament. Whilst we were somewhat intimidated by the army team’s large rigs and receding hairlines, one look at our very own man mountain Balint calmed our concerns of a physical mismatch. A defensive lockdown from both sides and some interesting shooting from our own team led to the 1-1 draw. Man of the Match went to Niall O Caoimh for a stunning shift in defence with highlights including, blocking literally 18 shots, and being Irish.
Cambridge 1st Team 9-2 Old Storts Team
This game was summed up by one man and one man only, that is Youssef ‘Bulldog’ Badr. His roller coaster of emotions started with the original team email where his name was sadly outside the privileged 13 to grace the first team. After a few people were subjected to rants and a passive aggressive message or two later, Youssef found himself on the train down to Bishops Stortford for the big tournament. Both in attack and defence in this game Youssef excelled and shone brighter than anyone else, clearly his keen training over summer has proved useful. A personal highlight is his assisting pass to Adam, which reminded me of Paul Scholes picking out a teammate’s big toe from 90 yards across Old Trafford. Long live Badr.
Cambridge 1st Team 3-3 Colchester
Coming off a high in the last game came a stern test against club side Colchester. Whilst they possessed a few decent players in their arsenal, it seemed their tactics were nothing short of disgusting. Implementing child labour strategies as we faced off against what can only be described as a pre-pubescent collection of conscious bones. Whilst the game seemed to be under control, in the last two minutes we squandered the game with poor defence of annoying route one polo. Man of the match went to Adam ‘incredibly American’ Streeter for his display just after half time as he proceeded to pull off exactly what he explained in the team talk and pull an unwitting victim into pit and savagely slammed the ball home. His performance was improved by phrases such as ‘Big D’ and ‘Great O guys’.
Cambridge 1st Team 3-2 O*ford
GDBO GDBO GDBO. I love beating O*ford, even though I said I didn’t care, I really do. We controlled the whole game and they only had a shot when Rhys had an interesting understanding of the word ‘slide in to the corner’. The best bit was that no matter who we put in the pool we still spanked them back to that horrible excuse of a university they hail from. One man (basically a child) stood out in his abuse of their scattered defences. Ben ‘probably TJ’ TD was pinging them in from literally anywhere and was only denied a beautiful hat trick by some dubious reffing. A great start to the season for our fledgling prodigy.
We came 2nd in the tournament behind only O*ford, although we all know who the real winners are.
Cambridge 2nd Team 8-5 KCL Men’s team
An unbeaten weekend was capped off by a valiant display by our 2nd team against a decent Kings College London team. With the team 3-5 down going into the final quarter, a combination of stellar coaching by yours truly (mostly that I feel) and the combination of V’s 5 metre shooting with Balint’s dominance in pit meant the team cruised to an 8-5 win in style. It truly was men against boys. Man of the Match was easily rewarded to Brian in net as he saved shot after shot after shot. The other team was basically shooting at a reinforced brick wall with arms and a soothing American accent. And wihle our game predominantly followed the rules of the sport, I’m sure the women’s team can let you know how their subsequent ‘water polo game’ against the KCL women went. Hint: slightly less rule-abidingly.
I would like to introduce myself as the President of CUSWPC this year.
Over the past couple of years, successive CUSWPC Presidents have focussed on strengthening ties between current members and our alumni. Last year, President Isobel Firth and Tadpoles’ President Lydia Woodward made fantastic progress in reviving our alumni mailing list and hosted a hugely successful Tadpoles’ Dinner. The next step is to keep you up-to-date with the club’s news.