The two sides will meet again on 4th MarchDomininkis Zalys

After a 2-0 loss against Oxford earlier in the season, Cambridge women’s blues hockey were hoping for a change of fortunes. This was their last chance to practise against their Oxford counterparts before their Varsity game in five weeks’ time.

Oxford started the first half very aggressively and won a short corner within the first couple of minutes. The resulting drag flick was well-saved by goalkeeper Freddie Briscoe, but it was a sign of the dominance that Oxford would assert for the rest of the half.

Another theme of the game was very quick counter-attacking play from both sides. The first of these was made by Cambridge after a crash ball found Annalise Whitehead alone in the shooting circle, only for her shot to fire wide. However, this was a rare venture towards the opposition's goal for Cambridge in the first half as their final passes kept going awry. 

Oxford’s relentless pressure and superior speed eventually told when one of their forwards won short corner after a quick break down the right-hand flank. Oxford’s drag-flicker stepped up again, but Briscoe made three fantastic saves to keep the ball out, the third of which hit a defender’s foot and resulted in another short corner. It was third time lucky for the drag-flicker, whose powerful strike went straight into the left-hand corner and gave Oxford a deserved lead. 

As the game went on, Oxford forwards kept sprinting past Cambridge’s defence. Briscoe managed to save a barrage of shots but was helped twice by Amy Edwards bravely saving shots on the line. Despite chances to relieve the pressure, the defence were continually turning the ball straight back over to Oxford. The attacks and the short corners kept coming, and Oxford once again took advantage of their dominance by converting another drag-flick. 

Only at 2-0 down did Cambridge begin to get a foothold in the game. They started marking Oxford’s key players better, and Hatty Darling’s disguised passes were starting to successfully reach the forward line. When Rhiannon Osbourne came on, she made some powerful forward leads and created the best chance thus far five minutes before half-time, sending the ball through to Bella Padt, who fired wide. 

In a reversal of their performance in the first half, Cambridge came out with a blistering pace at the start of the second.  Cambridge’s forward line harrassed Oxford’s defence more effectively and gave them less time on the ball to pick out an incisive pass. Eventually, this extra pressure told, and Padt managed to win the ball from a full-back on the halfway line, only for her attack to be thwarted by a good tackle from a rapidly retreating halfback. Nevertheless, Oxford were still in the game, and only an excellent tackle from Edwards prevented one of their forwards from having a free run in on goal. 


Mountain View

Half-Time Report: Hockey at Cambridge

Cambridge won their first short corner of the game 11 minutes into the second half as a result of their improved attacking outlook. The ball was deftly slipped left but well stopped by the girl on the post. The Light Blues were retaining possession for longer periods of time and won two short corners after good link up play between the half-backs and the forwards. The chances became more threatening, and only a good save by the keeper kept out Burrows’ reverse stick deflection. Eventually, the higher intensity of the Light Blues paid dividends when Darling unleashed an incredible cross-field pass, which was picked up brilliantly by Burrows. She drove straight into the attacking circle and hit the ball right past the keeper, much to the delight of Cambridge's supporters. 

This deserved goal set up a frenetic ending as Oxford were trying to rebuff this re-energised Cambridge attack as they pressed for an equaliser. The ball was whizzing to both ends of the pitch, but the only definite chance came from another Oxford short corner. Again, their drag-flicker took the shot but, in testament to how Cambridge had adapted throughout the game, they managed to charge the ball down. 

This is the last time that Cambridge will meet Oxford before their Varsity game. Although it did not start well, Cambridge grew into the game and were the better side by the end of the game. Despite this narrow 2-1 loss, on the evidence of this performance, Cambridge should take confidence that they can defeat the Dark Blues in March.

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