Game, Wet and Match

Canoe Polo tackle

Ross Baird

On Saturday 7 February, the UL Canoe Polo A Team travelled to Stevenage for the fourth round of the National League Division 4. Disciplined play yielded some positive results. The team were able to control the play of most of their games, and, although not scoring highly themselves, restricted their opposition and had the least goals scored against them during the night.

UL met Martlett Cougars in their first game and were instantly put on the back foot as the Cougars scored two goals in quick succession. UL had chosen to play a tactic of loose positioning and fluid swapping, a move which they came to regret as it appeared too fluid. As the game progressed, however, the team came together more realising their mistakes, to score two goals. However, the final score finished 5 - 2 to Martlett. After all the effort UL were informed that they had won on forfeit as Martlett had three ringers from higher divisions.

That game readied the squad for the next clash with Letchworth Lynx, currently one position above UL in the league. Lynx chose to play a zone defence which gave UL a free man at the back. Using this to their advantage, the UL team retained possession as their first priority, and waited for the best shot on goal to present itself. Martin Raymond soon found the net to put them one goal ahead at the break. Early in the second half the opposing team equalised on a fast break. UL stuck to their game plan and once again went ahead. Protecting their lead, the UL squad dominated possession until the final whistle.

A frustrating first half against Letchworth Ladies occurred in the next game as UL struggled to gain possession. However, strong defence by Matthew Betts and Craig Garlington saw the Ladies forced to shoot from a long distance. Just before the break a quick shot by Damon Hoad on the wing put UL in the lead. In the second half the London squad stuck with a usual defence and wore them down and managed to keep play in the Letchworth half. Three shots did find the net in the second half, to result in a comfortable victory for UL at full time.

St Albans F were the next opponents for UL; managing to keep most of the play in the St Alban’s half, UL scored mid way through the first half. Good pressuring of their defenders by Paul Butcher saw several turnovers. However, St Albans' strong goalkeeper managed to keep all UL shots out for the remainder of that half. History seemed to repeat itself in the second half as once again the opposition equalised on a fast break. Again, UL regrouped, tightened their defence and pressured the St Alban’s goal. Only one net was needed and UL found it just before full time.

For the second time this season, the final UL game of the night was against local rivals, the Dreamers from North London. Having lost to them last tournament UL were determined to turn the tables on them. The game was played at a frantic pace and Dreamer’s scored within seconds of the start. Unphased, UL came back to force the majority of play into the Dreamer’s half. Their tactic of one-on-one marking left an open goal and UL grabbed an equaliser.

The second half picked up with a lot of boat contact and paddles everywhere. An unfortunate back pass to the UL goalkeeper undid all the good work, however, as Dreamers were given an easy goal. Angered by their mistake, UL fought back. A quick pass and then a foul on an attempted shot gave UL a penalty shot at an open goal. It was not the team’s night as the shot went low. However, they battled on trying to equalise only to hear the final whistle as UL had their third shot in a row blocked by a single desperate defender. Final score: Dreamer’s 3, UL 1.


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