Cambridge celebrate with the cupKane Smith

Cambridge battled Oxford to a 51-45 win in the Netball Varsity match on Sunday (26/02). It was a hard-fought win, as the lead switched multiple times throughout the match before Cambridge’s hunger and determination led them to victory.

Cambridge came out firing from the first whistle, smoothly converting the first centre pass and immediately challenging Oxford’s defence. Shooters Lucy Dodd and Lucy Walker had a brilliant partnership, working in complete harmony in the circle to find the space around each other, helped by some excellent long passes into the circle by wing-attack Millie Quayle. However, Oxford began to grow into the game towards the end of the first quarter, and an Oxford penalty shot was converted after the whistle to leave the score 11-15 in Oxford’s favour at the first break.

Oxford reshuffled their defensive lineup during the break. This failed to deter the Cambridge shooters with Lucy Dodd scoring some phenomenal long-range shots from the edge of the circle. This, combined with a couple of important interceptions in the centre-court by Izzy Howse and Millie Ireland-Carson, helped Cambridge to fight back and retake the lead. Cambridge’s Jade Popoola made way after putting on a fierce display in defence. Oxford’s frustration began to show at Cambridge’s dominant display. Dodd’s last-second-buzzer goal from the edge of the circle gave Cambridge a three point lead, the score being 26-23 going into halftime.

This time it was Cambridge who decided to reshuffle their team during the break, bringing on Clodagh Bottomley and Zoë Starbuck as a new shooting duo. Cambridge were again quick from the get-go, converting Oxford’s first centre pass to add another point to their lead. Goalkeeper Jade Popoola was instrumental in defence throughout the match, making some phenomenal interceptions in this third quarter. Oxford responded to Cambridge’s good play by upping their intensity and, after a few goals in a row, they managed to creep back in front. Substitutes Rachel Mercer and India Foster worked hard in the centre-third to work the ball into the attack after capitalising on some of Oxford’s mistakes. This led the third quarter to end 36-35 in Cambridge’s favour, the closeness between the teams now becoming increasingly apparent.


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Cambridge had the first centre pass of the final quarter, converting this to gain a two-point lead. Cambridge’s defence worked hard to thwart Oxford’s efforts in attack, forcing errors into their play that led to some messy attacking moves. Cambridge weren’t without error however, as Oxford managed to regain the lead heading into the final ten minutes.

The nerves became evident in both teams as the end of the match drew closer, as a few more passes went unreceived and balls were dropped. However, the Cambridge team’s strength and determination shone through and, through the defensive pressure they put on Oxford that led to some impressive interceptions and a bad centre pass, they gained a 48-43 lead. The pressure was kept on Oxford by a reshuffle of Cambridge’s defence, forcing errors from Oxford and lengthening play before end of the match. The Cambridge attack continued to play with enthusiasm and hunger right until the last second. The crowd erupted into deafening cheers as the final whistle blew, whilst the players celebrated their hard-fought and well-deserved victory together on court.