Varsity Hockey: Double joy for Cambridge

Matthew O'Kane 11 March 2013

The men’s and women’s Light Blues hockey teams completed a double Varsity victory over Oxford on Sunday at Southgate Hockey Club. The men drew 1-1 but retained the trophy by virtue of winning the fixture last year. The women produced a clinical 2-0 victory to end a nine-year drought. Combined with the 2nd’s and 3rd’s teams’ victories three weeks ago, Cambridge established Varsity dominance unheard of in recent memory.

The women’s Blues match began just as the supporters’ coaches pulled into the ground. Like last year, Cambridge supporters far outnumbered the Oxonians on the sideline. The Light Blues took full advantage of the support and, after a tight opening passage of play, pushed through the Oxford defence to storm to a 1-0 lead thanks to a cracking strike from Susannah Stott.

Cambridge came out swinging after half time, and continuously threatened the Oxford goal. Although a couple of short corners were unconverted, the Light Blues’ lead was consolidated when five-time Blue and living legend Mel Addy found the net to hand Cambridge a two-goal lead. Addy’s experience shone through with a tenacious performance which earned her volleys of cheers and the distinction of being named the Light Blues’ player of the match. Cambridge denied Oxford possession and scoring opportunities time and time again, and closed out the match with a historic 2-0 win. Captain Charlie Banfield lifted the trophy to rapturous applause from the Light Blue crowd. The title goes to the Cambridge women this year after a nine-year spell of draws and losses. The impressive victory only made the homecoming of the trophy more satisfying.

The men were next on the pitch and came up against a confident Oxford team off the back of a successful league season. Oxford’s strategy of progressive passing saw them control possession for much of the first half, leading to an eventual goal by Alex Stobbart. The Light Blues marched into the training room at half time determined to reverse the order of the match, and succeeded upon returning to the pitch.

Oxford remained focused, but were let down by their inability to convert. Meanwhile, the Light Blues started to impose themselves and created numerous scoring chances. Less than ten minutes before the final klaxon, Cambridge earned a penalty flick. Vice-captain Will Harrison was as smooth as he could be, finding the top corner of the Oxford net to score the all important equaliser for Cambridge.

The men’s Light Blues acquitted themselves superbly in holding a strong Oxford side to a well-deserved 1-1 draw, not least because of the efforts of goalkeeper and Cambridge man of the match Graham Morrison. Skipper Felix Styles’s hard work in preparing his team was strongly evident. The Light Blues were in peak physical condition, and the obvious camaraderie amongst the team was commended by many spectators. Cambridge retained the trophy as a result of having won last year. Their steady performance sees the trophy going to a good home once again.

Matthew O’Kane