Fran Steele scores Cambridge's fourth goalIzzy Poles Sports Photography

A brace from Neve Mayes and goals from Lucy Fell and Fran Steele ensured that the Blues beat Exeter 4-1 on a mild afternoon at St Catharine’s pitches on Wednesday (15/02).  

Cambridge started the game on the front foot, pressing Exeter as they played out from the back. This pressure eventually told about ten minutes in, as dogged tackling from Alissa Sattentau won Cambridge the ball back just outside of the penalty box. She found the surging Lucy Fell, who beat the keeper from about six yards out to put Cambridge 1-0 up. The goal led to even greater Cambridge dominance, as the determined Blues looked to cement their lead with a second goal. They made use of superiority down the right-hand side of the pitch, with fullback Shannon Pickrell and midfielder Fran Steele finding Lucy Fell and Abbie Hastie, who ran from deep to get in behind the Exeter defence. Cambridge’s second goal came from this connection. Fell ran down the wing before cutting it back to Hastie, whose pass to Neve Mayes set her up for a short-range finish. Malicious rumours of offside spread by Exeter did not sway the referee, and Cambridge’s second goal stood.  

Exeter were buoyed by Cambridge’s second goal, and made a concerted effort to keep their hopes of staying in the competition alive. They overran Cambridge in midfield, getting the better of them in possession, helped by the frailty of the asthmatic Hastie and Erin Davies, recently recovered from a chest infection. Exeter’s dominance led to a goal from a corner, poked in after the ball bounced fortuitously off a Cambridge head after an attempted clearance. The goal increased the already significant Exeter pressure, and it was squeaky-bum time for the Blues, who were saved by some excellent defending from Alexia Dengler and Arden Dierker Viik . The brilliance of their keeper Emilia Keavney was also instrumental in ensuring they reached the halftime break in the lead.  


Mountain View

Men's Blues let two goal lead slip

If halftime came at a lucky moment for Cambridge, they used it to regroup. A stern talking-to from their coach produced a rapid response, and a drive from Pickrell down the wing found Mayes in the box, who finished to restore the Blues’ two-goal advantage. This third goal calmed Cambridge nerves, and the reassuring presence of Ailie Rennie in midfield allowed them to see off the potential of an Exeter comeback. The introduction of midfielder Belle Rostron and wingers Eponine Howard and Ella O'Connell gave the Blues attacks more impetus, as did the singing of their substitutes on the sideline. Whether the slightly strangled rendition of Blue Moon or the (at times screamed) encouragement of the onlooking men’s Blues made a difference as Howard repeatedly beat the opposition full back is unknowable, but Cambridge support gave the end of the match a convivial atmosphere. The party continued with a lovely finish from captain Steele, who swept one home amid Cambridge joy and screams of the virtues of manifestation.  

Varsity Player of the Match: Emilia Keavney