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Cambridge Handball Club have tough but spirited return to action against Olympia and Oxford respectively





It was a tough return to action for the Cambridge Handball Club teams against table-topping opposition in their respective leagues on January 20.

The Women’s side visited the capital to face Olympia for the first time this season, with their prior match-up forefeited due to a lack of available players, whilst the men’s side locked horns with Oxford again, the team they faced in the first game of the season

Whilst both teams ended up tasting defeat, there were marked improvements on display from games in the first half of the season.

The Cambridge Handball women's side put on a spirited display against league leaders Olympia at Barking Sporthouse. Picture: Cambridge Handball Club
The Cambridge Handball women's side put on a spirited display against league leaders Olympia at Barking Sporthouse. Picture: Cambridge Handball Club

Olympia HC 43 – 16 Cambridge Women’s – Premier Handball League South:

A last-minute absence left the women’s side with only one substitute against league leaders Olympia, whose only loss this season came in a narrow 20-24 defeat to city rivals West London Eagles, and the continued recovery of Viki Takacs from injury meant the other seven players were in for a lot of minutes on court.

However, Cambridge were boosted by the seamless integration of debutant Solange Chea into the side at Barking Sporthouse, slotting in at both right and left wing throughout the game.

Grace Cappell, who recently toured with the Great Britain senior side in Macedonia against their national side, as well as club side RK Vardar started the game at line, with Sadie Kirk at centre, Martyna Dziedzic and Agi Foeglein at left and right back respectively, and Sam Yun Yap on the left wing, with Lucy Roe in goal.

The opening exchanges started cagily, with neither side quickly asserting dominance, but Cambridge’s organised defence meant the league leaders were initially kept at bay.

However, lost balls in attack left the side open to fast breaks which Olympia accepted with open arms, with Karina Vesteng and Amanda Hoffner dominating the scoring for the home side in the first half.

Cappell grabbed two goals in the first period, as well as Yap, Foeglein and Dziedzic each notching one apiece

Cambridge’s efficiency at throw offs in the first half caused issues for the home side when they tried to play seven versus six by taking off the goalkeeper, resulting in Sabrina Oliveira receiving a two-minute suspension for a faulty substitution after trying to enter the pitch too quickly.

Foeglein’s first half goal also came from the attempted on-pitch dominance from the home side, stealing the ball from Olympia in defence and hurling the ball into the empty goal from her own half.

Despite Roe making several good saves from the six metre line when the Olympia players did break through, their momentum in the back court saw the scoreline read 17-5 at the halfway mark.

Cappell switched out to the back court for the second half, with Kirk slotting in at line for the first part before switching in turn with Foeglein.

The attack became stronger for these changes, with the line players creating large gaps for Cappell in the back court to break through and find the Olympia net, as well as continuing to exploit the empty net when the home side were in attack.

However, time eventually paid for the visitors, with Olympia able to establish a healthy lead with the extra player in attack.

Hoffner and Vesteng continued their scoring streaks for the home side, as well as Hanah Saunders and Anastasia Petrovska getting in on the action.

The final score read 43-16 in favour of the hosts, however the visitors can take away some positives with their efficiency in exploiting the empty goal, as well as putting on a brave display against a team likely to finish top of the tree come the end of the season.

Player of the match: Grace Cappell

Oxford 49 – 26 Cambridge Men’s – Regional League South 1:

The Men’s side once again faced off against first-placed side Oxford at Moulton College, where last time out with only seven players the score was 18-45 for the league leaders in the season opener.

The Cambridge Handball men's side gave a much improved display against table-toppers Oxford at Moulton College compared to their first meeting at the start of the season. Picture: Cambridge Handball Club
The Cambridge Handball men's side gave a much improved display against table-toppers Oxford at Moulton College compared to their first meeting at the start of the season. Picture: Cambridge Handball Club

Oxford have continued on a winning streak since then and remain unbeaten, so Cambridge were always going to be in for a tough game.

Jacob Allard returned at line for the visitors for his first game since the 29-25 loss to Islington, whilst keeper Michael te Vrugt also returned for Cambridge.

Jandro Garcia Costa, Kevin Guy and Vykintas Stuckis opened the scoring for the away team, whilst Dieyson dos Santos scored three in quick succession for the hosts.

It was an improved defence from Cambridge from the last time they faced Oxford, with handy line player Aaron Leu kept at bay until just before the close of the half.

However, the back court proved to be where the hosts gained momentum, with Elliot Stockalper notching five in the first half, helping Oxford to open up a handy lead.

Garcia continued to offer goals in reply for the visitors, as well as Tobias Barber and Jan Guzik getting in on the act.

Matty Jackson also chipped in with his first goal for Cambridge, although at the interval Oxford were ahead by 16 goal, leading 27-11.

The second half proved much more competitive than the first, with the visitors tightening the defence and enhancing their discipline, with no two-minute suspensions handed out to the away side for the entirety of the second period.

Garcia and Stuckis continued the scoring for Cambridge initially, with Barber and Guy also adding to their first half contributions.

Allard and Theo Miani got onto the scoresheet in the second half to supplement Garcia’s scoring streak, but whilst the away side were able to add more goals after the break than before, Oxford’s runaway lead paid dividends.

The home side notched 22 goals after the interval, Yanis Boutmedjet adding five to his first half haul, alongside the home side's player of the match Joe-Luke Mahoney.

And so whilst the final scoreline may have read 49-26 in favour of the hosts, Cambridge can take home the positives of an improved display compared to the reverse fixture, as well as a second-half where they were only bettered by six goals by the league leaders.

Player of the match: Jandro Garcia Costa

Cambridge Handball Club are always interested in new members joining; message the CHC Instagram page if you want to get involved.



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