On Saturday 7th March the playing fields of St John’s College, Cambridge, played host to the 99th Annual Lacrosse Varsity, in what was a day of intense competition and impressive team and individual play. Six matches were played in total and the Women’s Alumni teams were the first to quite literally get the ball rolling in the morning sunshine. Considering the Oxford team initially could only field a team of eight in a sport which requires twelve players, the girls put up a good fight against a Cambridge team with many subs and former England players in their ranks, losing 10-2.
The Women’s Swifts (2nd team) were the next to play, in what was one of the most nail-biting matches ever experienced by most of the players and many of the spectators. Having lost to their rivals twice already this season, Oxford were certainly the underdogs entering into the match and the team knew that it would be a very tough match. At 7-2 down with 20 minutes to go, the Swifts called a time out and co-captains Sophie Poston and Rachel Wright gave the team talk of their lacrosse careers. In an incredible show of grit and determination, Oxford took control of the remaining third of the match and completely reversed the momentum of the game. With 30 seconds to go and the score even at 7-7, Oxford transitioned the ball straight to attack from the centre draw and in a moment that she, nor anyone else watching, shall not forget easily, Jayme Kusyk scored her fifth goal of the match and sealed Oxford’s victory.
The Men’s 2nds faced the light blues at noon, with the Oxford Iroquois taking an early lead and dominating all over the pitch. Unfortunately Cambridge managed to crawl back from trailing 12-7 to draw level, and when the final whistle blew the score was an even 12-12. However, varsity rules dictate that in the event of a draw the previous winning side retains the title, so Oxford were declared victorious – a result which reflects Oxford’s more impressive team performance, merely hindered by a slight lapse in concentration towards the end of the match.
Next to play were the mixed team, who put up a sterling effort but were unable to contain a very polished Cambridge side. Special mention must go to Felix Hamer, whose performance in goal ensured a much tighter match.
The penultimate match of the day saw the Men’s Blues take on their rivals in an excitingly even battle between two very strong sides. Throughout the four quarters Oxford were definitely the superior team, and this became clear in the score-line when the dark blues pulled into the lead. Some sheer wizardry in attack – including a heroic dodge past five defenders culminating in a superb individual goal from Matthew Beresford – earned the Oxford Blues their fourth consecutive varsity win with a well-deserved 13-10 victory.
The Women’s Blues finished off proceedings, with the Oxford team once again going into battle with nothing to lose. Despite having the challenge of keeping a cool head in front of the Cambridge home crowd, the women put in a valiant and assured team effort. However, a few highly skilled Cambridge players gave the light blues a slight edge and, carried by the supporters on the sideline, Oxford’s opposition were victorious at 15-5.
Congratulations should go to all players, for providing the spectators with some truly wonderful lacrosse. OULC were crowned Varsity Champions 2015, with three out of five wins. Celebrations have been understandably quite considerable, but already teams and individuals have their eyes set on an even stronger club performance next year, at what will be the 100th Annual Lacrosse Varsity held here in Oxford. Yes, the shoeing is going to be huge.