Despite Cambridge dominating possession, Oxford took their chances and came up trumps in the penalty shootoutKane Smith/kanesmithphotography

Oxford Women’s Blues were crowned champions of the 36th Women’s Varsity Football Match this afternoon (13/3), beating Cambridge 4-1 on penalties after a tense 2-2 deadlock in normal time.

Cambridge started the brighter side as they looked to avenge their 3-0 defeat from last year, constantly pressing the Oxford players and stringing together some nice passes amidst the rainy conditions.

Oxford thought they had scored the opener in the eighth minute, when Erin Robinson had the ball in the back of the net, but it was chalked off for offside.

Five minutes later, however, Oxford did make it 1-0. Striker Grace Molloy turned the Cambridge defender and played an inviting pass down the left flank for Alessandra David, who beautifully fired past Keavney in the Cambridge goal.

Erin Davies’ two goals were not enough to give the Light Blues a Varsity winKane Smith/kanesmithphotography

But Cambridge didn’t dwell on falling behind so early. Their pressure began to tell, finding space behind the Oxford defence.

After eighteen minutes, Oxford keeper Iona French-Adam failed to deal with a low cross. The ball fell free inside the area and Erin Davies pounced on it, firing narrowly over the bar. Just a minute later, Isobel Boothroyd got through behind the defence and squared it to Davies, who this time round finished comfortably.

The teams traded attacks for the rest of a cagey first half, but both defences held firm and went into the break level at 1-1.

Cambridge started the second half in the same manner as the first. This time they buried the first big chance that fell to them. Erin Davies floated the ball over Oxford’s substitute keeper Emmie Halfpenny and into the top-right corner with her left foot.

The next twenty-odd minutes were a scrappy affair, with as many balls hit over the stands as shots, each team waiting for the other to make a mistake. Cambridge broke first, as Robinson finished clinically after a mix-up at the back to equalise for Oxford at 2-2.

Both teams ramped up the pressure in the last ten minutes, as some last-ditch defending saved both sides. Substitute Megan Clarke bravely blocked a shot with her head deep in stoppage time, with the game destined to go to penalties. Cambridge had one final corner, but Isobel Boothroyd’s cross sailed harmlessly over the Light Blue bundle.


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Heading into the nerve-wracking penalty shootout, Oxford’s resolve paid off, as Halfpenny saved consecutive penalties from Fran Steele and Katie Sparling before David kept her cool to place the winning penalty into the bottom-left corner.

Despite arguably being the better side for the vast majority of the game, Cambridge ended the game on the wrong side of the scoreline, as their hopes of reclaiming Varsity dominance will have to wait until next year.

Varsity Player of the Match: Alessandra David (Oxford)


Cambridge: Emilia Keavney, Serena Charles, Tatiana Kasujja, Fran Steele (C), Arden Dierker Viik, Erin Davies, Abbie Hastie, Isobel Boothroyd, Anna O’Leary, Katie Sparling, Claire Peterson

Substitutes: Belle Rostron, Molly Woods, Megan Clarke. Not used: Cara Dromgoole, Neve Mayes

Oxford: Iona Ffrench-Adam, Iona Bennett, Alice Nichols, Alessandra David, Taiye Lawal, Grace Molloy, Erin Robinson, Bells Wordsworth, Roza Bailey, Maddy Kowalenko (C), Francisca Vasconcelos

Substitutes: Sofia Aujla-Jones, Emily Hoyle, Emmie Halfpenny. Not used: Charlotte Maple, Olivia Walk

Follow the Men’s 137th Varsity Football Match live from 4:30pm today (13/3).