Having trained tirelessly through the cold, the rain and the snow, CUCC approached their first tournament of 2018 with confidence. The latest edition of the regional Division 3 tournament saw Cambridge making the quick trip to Stevenage to play four games against local rivals, including club sides Castle and Nomads, as well as university teams from London (combined colleges) and Surrey. Despite skipper Chris Hedges’ uncharacteristic absence, Cambridge sent a strong team with considerable depth, helped along by the returning Anthony Cooper and Alex Ross, who shrugged off a career-threating arm injury to play.
However, Cambridge unfortunately made their typical slow start to proceedings, falling behind early against an unusually strong Castle side then conceding goals on the break while chasing the game. It was nonetheless a solid performance, particularly from imported defensive stalwarts Chris Scheulen and Roy Spliet, who were unlucky to be left isolated when facing the Castle counterattacks. Castle 3 - 1 Cambridge.
Cambridge did respond in spectacular style, though, with a comfortable victory against Nomads which provided plenty for the neutral. Key to Cambridge’s success was the partnership of Alex Ross and Jen McGaley up front, with Ross reaping the rewards of Cambridge’s aggressive pressing style to bag a hat-trick. Cambridge 6 - 3 Nomads.
A rematch against Castle then provided a chance to enact swift revenge for Cambridge’s earlier loss, though after a strong start Cambridge fell away, again conceding a number of goals on the counterattack. However, it must be noted that Cambridge’s control of the ball was much stronger than in previous matches, particularly with the control in the middle of the pitch demonstrated by Tamsin Banner and Helen Inzani, who were unlucky not to come away with more goals. Cambridge 2 - Castle 6.
The final encounter of the evening placed Cambridge against a University of London side with a point to prove, following their unexpected losses earlier in the evening. Cambridge made a dream start as Jon Wall took advantage of some slack London defending from a corner to hammer the shot home, followed by McGaley’s superb close-range effort. However, London responding strongly to leave Cambridge chasing the game with little time left on the clock, concerted Cambridge pressure resulting in nothing more than a London breakaway goal. Cambridge 3 - London 5.
CUCC now look to build on their attacking perfomances and tighten their defence ahead of the next round of fixtures in early March.