Nationals Success 2016

This year Cambridge walks away with a gold, silver and brooze at the SUPA Nationals 2016.

Lower Intermediates

The upper intermediates captain by TDS's had a very strong start with an easy 8-0 win against Newcastle. Following this embarassing large win we went on to have another good win against Buckingham 4-1. Only one goal was allowed to slip past our tight marking and was scored by a clean back hand by their number 3.

These two wins put us in a good position going into the round robin stage of the tournament. However, we came up against Kent University in our first match of the round robin. We let the pressure of the finals get to us and kent secured a narrow win 2-1! Never the less we went into our final match with still everything to play for against Nottingham. Nottingham, in my opinon, were the strongest side in the tournament with no player letting the side down and a very strong number 2. Cambridge played well in this match and kept the game flowing and competitive. Unfortunately, this match was lost on goal difference following a draw and the Cambridge Lower Intermediate team came in at 3rd Position.

Upper Novice

Fielding a strong team in the Upper Novice category, CUPC N1 put in a solid performance at winter nationals this year winning three of their four matches to finish 5th in their division.

With our first match having been postponed to the Friday morning, CUPC put in a strong showing against a weak Edinburgh team, beating them 8-0 in a game which saw them rarely leave their opponent’s half. Pre-match nerves must have got the better of the Edinburgh team who got off to a terrible start conceding a penalty one within seconds of the throw in. With Hubert Buiatti turning on the class however, it was all downhill from there for Edinburgh. In a dominating performance, Hubert ended the match having scored an impressive 4 goals with Toby Call chipping in with a tidy 3 more to send CUPC through to the second round with a comprehensive 8-0 victory in the first match.

The winning glow was unfortunately soon to fade as the Upper Novices lost a heated match 2-1 late on Friday against an aggressive RAU team. As the game got underway it quickly became clear that CUPC were in for a very different kind of contest as one of the opposition players received an early warning for bad language. Shrugging off his chat with the umpire, RAU took the lead early on with their 3 scoring the only goal to come from open play in the match. Within seconds however Toby had calmly restored parity from the penalty spot to bring the scores level again at 1-1. The chukka quickly picked up pace with CUPC being very unlucky not be awarded two penalty ones in the middle period of the match and while the scoreboard remained relatively static, the rest of the chukka was not without incident. Despite dominating the match for most of the chukka RAU were initially unable to take the lead following some strong defending from Cambridge. After a period of relative dominance, one of the RAU players lost his seat bringing the match to a temporary halt as he had to remount. A bruised ego now in tow and tempers beginning to fray, RAU resorted once again to foul language only to have a nonplussed Hubert ride their 2 off his horse for a second time. With only seconds left on the clock and the match seemingly headed for penalties the RAU 2 resorted to grabbing at Hubert reigns in a desperate attempt to gain some advantage, pulling away Hubert came back in for another ride off only to have their hapless 2 fall off his horse for an impressive 3rd time in the match. This was unfortunately to be the last action in the chukka with RAU scoring the resulting 15-yard penalty to take them into the lead just as the chukka was called.

Putting the bad taste of the Friday afternoon match behind them the Upper Novices restored some pride beating Liverpool 3-2 in a very chilly early encounter on the Saturday morning. In a score line which flattered the Liverpudlians, Hubert once again put in a strong showing scoring two goals early in the chukka before Oliver Melvill rode onto his own backhand carrying the ball down the ground to put CUPC 3-0 up. Cambridge where unlucky not to increase their lead as the chukka progressed with both Oliver and Hubert narrowly missing two penalties in quick succession. Desperate to make a game of it however, the women from Liverpool then brought one back towards the end of the chukka before quickly turning one goal into two following some confusion after the hit out. It was however too little to late for Liverpool as the game ended 3-2 following a strong performance from the Cambridge team.

The final fixture of the weekend for the Upper Novices saw CUPC pitted against a team from that ‘other’ place as they drew Oxford Brookes in the 5th vs 6th playoff. Following some confusion and a bad case of disappearing horses, CUPC finally took to the field on borrowed ponies in the last chukka of the day in a light-hearted match against a sporting Oxford Brookes team. Despite the rapidly failing light and a group of ponies which would have made Lasagne proud, Cambridge came out on top with a goal a piece from Hubert and Toby and two from Oliver to finish the tournament with a strong 4-1 win. Although we didn’t need them in the end, a big thank you to the Brookes team who offered to horse us when we couldn’t find our own.

While we may have come home kicking ourselves at missed chances and itching for another go at RAU, the Upper Novices put in a strong showing throughout the tournament finishing with three wins and a positive goal difference of 11 after their four chukkas.

Lower Novice

Winchester 1 – 4 Cambridge After a tense team chat, the light blues lined up to face their first opposition of the tournament, Winchester. As soon as the arena door shut, the umpire threw the ball into the line up. Winchester stole the first tap of the ball, but an aggressive ride off by Katie saw the ball return to the light blue possession, with Aviv clearing the ball away from the darker blue Winchester team and into their goal. After Winchester tapped the ball from in front of their goal returning it into play, Katie made a sprint from the 10 yard line to steal the ball off of Winchester and hit it straight back into their goal. Winchester, now cautious of putting the ball back into play, waited for a gap in CUPC’s defence and whacked it towards the light blue goal. Not even some solid defence could avoid Winchester scoring. Now rattled, the light blue team stepped up a gear with Aviv scoring another goal, and foul against Sara meant that Cambridge received a penalty one and a final score of 4-1 to Cambridge.

Stirling 1 – 4 Cambridge Some scrappy play form both teams at the start resulted in a pony pile-up Stirling’s corner. With some quick stick work, Stirling managed to break free of the pony huddle, run the ball up to the other end of the arena, and knock it into the light blue goal. Aviv, too preoccupied by his growing fan girl support from the crowd, kept on narrowly missing the goal despite some impressive hits. However, Katie riding a big, strong pony, managed to push the ball up the wall and into Stirling’s goal. This was followed in quick succession by 2 goals from Sara and finally a 15 yard penalty goal from Aviv – much to the delight of his supporters.

UWE Cougars 1 – 4 Cambridge With Aviv, riding Offchurch’s infamous pony, Blue, the lower novice team changed their numbers and placed Aviv in the opportune position to hit the ball from the line up and run it straight into Stirling’s goal. A violent ride off from Sara, which almost ended with a UWE player on the ground, resulted in Cambridge regaining possession of the ball. With some solid backing up from the other light blues, the lower novice team managed to score again despite some hooks from the opposition, with Aviv delivering the final tap. After a foul against Cambridge, Aviv scored a 15 yard undefended penalty goal. With some good passing from Katie, Sara then managed to break away from the other team to run the ball down the arena to score a goal. Making the final score 4-1 to Cambridge.

Exeter 3 – 4 Cambridge After a tense warm-up, and with the pressure of the finals, the light blue team rode into the arena for their final match against a strong Exeter team. A special thank you to Offchurch for supplying such wonderful ponies!

Upper Beginners

Cambridge B1’s first match pitted the light blues against Harvey Adams college. Cambridge knew that the first match was all-important; as we entered the arena we were elated to see Coach guy and team members Sara, Katie, and Oliver cheering us on. Cambridge started off the chukka strong, winning the first hit in. The ball was kept on the offensive side for most of the match, and besides the slow pace of the game Cambridge used their ponies to take every opportunity they got. Patricia Martin took advantage of some ineffectual backhand work by Harvey Adams to score the chukka’s first. Elisabeth strongly rode off the opposition, much to their chagrin. After Harvey Adams rode over the line, Peter Shyba took a 15-yard penalty which just missed by a hair. Patricia rounded out the Chukka with a second goal and the match ended with Cambridge happily victorious, moving up to play Warwick in their next match. (2-0)

Cambridge met a tougher match in Warwick’s top beginners team, and fell 0-2, an inverse of their first result .The chukka was extremely fast and physical, and Peter obtained a foul at the first throw-in. Warwick gained momentum and scored their first goal shortly thereafter. After keeping it mostly in the Warwick side, there was another goal after a few minutes. (0-2)

The blues had another hard loss on Friday afternoon against Kent. The team altogether played much stronger compared to their previous match, against a strong team from Kent. The match started with a foul against Cambridge and a narrow miss from Peter. Kent hammered in two goals for a quick lead, before being faced with another foul. Patricia made a valiant effort but missed her shot. Kent scored one more time, and Cambridge finally got one in at the last second with a quick goal from Peter. (1-4)

The final game of the tournament was played on Saturday afternoon against the three girls from St. Andrews. Cambridge let the ball into their defensive half within the first few minutes of the match, but after clearing it out following a spot-drop penalty, it remained in St. Andrews half for the rest of the match. Cambridge outpaced St. Andrews off every throw-in and got two goals in quick succession, one from Peter Shyba and the other from Patricia Martin. The other two goals that contributed to the final score of 4-0 for Cambridge came from penalties. Cambridge was happy to finish the tournament with a solid win. The result from the final match left the Cambridge beginner 1s at 7th place overall.

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© Cambridge University Polo Club 2019. Photography by Charlie Newton