4th place for our U16 girls at the Copper Box

This Sunday, our newly formed U16 girls team had their 2nd ever competition, participating in an U16 tournament organised by the Hackney Council in the Olympic Copper Box. Due to schedule clashes, we only had a small squad of 7 players, but they did a brilliant job against somewhat older and more experienced teams. Our first match against Hackney B started well with very evenly matched teams, but 2 goals from Hackney made our girls slightly insecure and good goalkeeping of the opponent made it hard for us to score. However, Sonja’s interplay with our line player Alice helped to secure a penalty (which we unfortunately missed) and another fine pass saw a free shot from Alice on the line score our goal, to close the gap to 2-1. However, we couldn’t equalise but instead conceded one more goal, making the final score 3-1 against us.

Our second match against Newham was made more difficult by the fact that Felicity had twisted her ankle in the first match and was unable to run, so was confined to only defending and not participating in attack. This meant that effectively from this point onwards our girls were attacking continuously with one player less for the whole tournament. Nevertheless, they showed great skill and recovered from being 2-0 down, first with a penalty shot earned and converted by Alice, and then via a back-court shot from Sonja, equalising the game.

The draw and the defeat put us above Newham on 2nd place of our group, meaning that we faced the 1st placed team from the other group (Hackney A) for the semifinals. By now the fatigue started to show and Hackney expertly exploited our shortage in attack to repeatedly intercept balls and run fast break against us, winning by 7-0. This meant we missed out on the final, but instead met Hackney B again for the 3rd place decider.

A superb performance kept the match level throughout the whole 15 minutes, with not goal scored on either side due to excellent goal-keeping by Sophie and our opponents. The resulting penalty shootout was a close affair, with the first 5 shooters for either side only converting 1 shot each due to several fine saves from the keeper. It took until the 8th penalty to finally find a winner, with Hackney B converting their chance ahead of us and finishing in 3rd place.

This leaves 4th place for our girls, which is an excellent result especially considering the limited squad we had which was further weakened by injury. Onwards and upwards, we are very proud of you girls 🙂

IMG_20160508_155049

1st men’s team finishes on 3rd position in S8 league, qualifying for European competition next season!

Last Saturday saw the last match of the season for the 1st men’s team, with Cambridge facing London GD in the final match of the season as our “home” game in London. The match was of crucial importance for several teams to determine final league standings. A win for Cambridge would mean Olympia HC would be crowned champion, while a draw or a loss for Cambridge would make London GD the English champions, on equal points with Olympia HC but better goal difference. For Cambridge on the other hand, a win or a draw would mean 3rd place, while a defeat would have meant 4th place behind Warrington Wolves (again on equal points, but worse goal difference). Therefore, both teams were highly motivated to win this encounter and the whole of the Olympia HC’s men’s squad came out to support Cambridge in hope of crowning them champions. Thank you for your support once more.

The match started better for London GD and unforced errors by the Cambridge team both in attack and defence meant that our opponents could establish an early lead. To make matters worse, our centre player Pepe sustained a hit to the face which split is upper lip and forced him off the field until the bleeding was stopped. This proved difficult due to the moustache and for the remainder of the match Pepe had to play basically with large stripes of tape across his face, stopping him from speaking but not scoring! 15 minutes into the game, London GD was leading by 5 goals, but Cambridge rallied and started to close the gap, getting back within 2 goals, but going into the break 3 goals down.

However, our team was determined not to give up on this game yet, knowing that if we reduced our own mistakes, we could overturn it. And indeed, we started our 2nd half strongly, equalising and even pulling ahead by 2 goals with 10 minutes to go. Olympia’s enthusiastic support kept the teams fighting for every ball and finally the match came down to a nail-biting finish, with Cambridge leading by 1 goal with 20 seconds to go and London GD in possession. A time out call by London GD set out their final move, while our Cambridge side was determined to at least secure the crucial draw for 3rd place. London GD managed to score 10 seconds before the end and from the resulting throw off there wasn’t another opportunity for either team for a shot at goal, so the match ended 27-27, establishing the final league standings at:

London GD HC

Olympia HC

Cambridge HC

Warrington Wolves HC

Ruislip  Eagles HC

NEM Hawks HC

Leeds Hornets HC

Manchester HC

Click here to find the match statistics, and the overall league statistics for our team.

This top 3 finish by our team means for the 2nd time in the history of our club, we will have the opportunity to compete in the Challenge Cup! We are all excited and looking forward to this adventure!

IMG_20160507_160817

Junior handball feature on ITV news!

We had a lovely little feature on ITV news, aired last week. If you missed it, you can check it out here!

As we said on TV, we are very excited about our growing youth section and always happy for more players to join. Get in touch if you are interested in trying out handball.

 

 

Cambridge women win South East RDL Title

WomensPlayoff20160313This weekend saw the finals of the South East Regional Development league. Since the league had a many participants for a development league, it was decided at the beginning of the season to play a format where each team would play every other just once, and then have a final play-off phase at the end of the season, where 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd would determine the finalist who battle it out for the top places, and 5th vs 8th and 5th vs 6th determining the finals for the lower ranks.

Having had a strong first season back in official competition, the Cambridge women’s team only lost 2 matches throughout the regular league – against Oxford in autumn, and Medway Dragons in the end of January. This left our girls on place 2 after the regular season, behind Oxford but ahead of Medway Dragons. Therefore, our first play-off match was against Medway Dragons, on the 13.3. in Sporthouse. Our team was keen to show that the result in Medway didn’t represent the true strength of our team, where weak refereeing let faults go unpunished and an oversized court with an undersized 6m D had caused confusion in addition to unfocussed play. This time, our team was determined to win!

Medway opted for a surprising strategy of taking both Grete and Agi in 1-1 defence, leaving the remaining 4 defenders to hold the whole 6mD against the remaining Cambridge squad. For the first 10 minutes of the game, their strategy worked as while their strongest shooter Nr. 10 scored consistently from the distance or from free shots, we struggled with some attacks and mostly only scored from free shots for Grete. Medway had opened up a gap of 4 goals and a 2min suspension to the coach meant the team had to defend 5 against 6 for a couple of minutes.

However, soon our defence tightened up, interrupting the shooting from the distance and gaining the ball without conceding a goal. In attack, Agi and Grete now stood back around the centre line, while the remaining 4 – led by Niki and Anka – opened up large gaps in the Medway defence. By half time, Cambridge had closed down the gap to one – 12 vs 13.

We started the 2nd half focused and quickly equalised and then pulled ahead, but Medway didn’t give up. They  maintained their 4-2 defence which worked in our favour as it kept Grete and Agi fresh for defence, while provide ample space for the other girls in the attack. An increasingly frustrated Medway tried to close the gap by brute force, causing several attacking faults and displaying rather unsportsmanlike behaviour at times, but Cambridge stood firm and well timed saves from Pippa in goal meant we kept our lead and ran out winners 23-21. This meant we were going to the finals!!! Against Oxford, who had beaten London Angels in their semi-final.

The final took place on the 20.3. in Leyton and both teams had several players missing due to the fact that Easter term break has started in both University towns a week ago and additionally Cambridge’s University team was competing at a tournament in Lyon just this weekend. This meant that Cambridge had a squad of exactly 7 players, no substitutes, including a returning Cambridge player Krisztina (who now leaves in the south but couldn’t resist the lure to play with us again!) and Anka who was in bed with fever for most of the previous week. However, our bench wasn’t unoccupied as we brought both our coaches Alejandro and Cedric to help us win this important game!

We started off well, opening up a 2 goal lead to 4-2 quickly through a couple of nicely converted penalties by Niki and shots from the line. However, slightly hectic play in attack and bad communication in defence meant that we let Oxford back to 5-5. Some surprising refereeing meant that we were shorthanded for some of the first half which saw Oxford take the lead at 5-6, but Cambridge rallied and pulled back to 7-7 to go into half time with a narrow 2 goal lead of 8-10 – by this time Agi had received her 2nd 2min suspension (for a perfectly innocent defence against the Oxford line player) and therefore swapped into goal to give Pippa a go on the field and avoid getting the 3rd suspension which would mean a read card and with no substitutes a shorthanded team for the rest of the match! The second half started off very strongly for Cambridge. Despite slightly messy attacks, Cambridge could now steadily increase their lead, to 8-13, 9-15 and finally 10-18, only conceding a couple of goals from the wing. However, despite the strong performance of the team, tiredness and the lack from the lack of substitutions began to show and the team started to act inexplicably nervously, giving away the ball unnecessarily quickly. Oxford tried to rally, and managed to overcome the defence a bit better now, but the gap remained at 6 goals. The last 10 minutes of the game became a chaotic, hectic mess. Despite the fact that Oxford was never really within reach, a few badly timed challenges resulted in 2min suspensions and the referees lost the control of the match somewhat, now having to award several 2min on both sides (6 overall in the last 10 min). However, this didn’t change the result anymore and Cambridge comfortably run out 26-21 winners. This means that now we can go into the Super8 promotion play-offs as top of the South East Regional League!

CamOxSerious cam-oxCelebrate

Cambridge’s S8 men’s team narrowly beats NEM Hawks to maintain title hopes

Our men’s team travelled to Oldham, Manchester for the return leg against the young NEM Hawks team. We had won the home fixtures, but it was a narrow, high scoring affair so we knew a good team performance would be need to take home these crucial points. Coach Agi was not available to travel as she was playing league play-offs with the women’s team herself, so Rickie stepped up as the coach. The team also had to compensate for the last minute drop-out of fever stricken Florian, but could for the first time since his international transfer include Pierre as a goalkeeper in the squad, providing back-up for regular keeper Graham.

The game started better for the home side, and Cambridge was left trailing by a few goals resulting in a half time deficit of 4 goals (17-13). Hawks managed to maintain their lead throughout most of the 2nd half, but with 5 minutes to go, Alejandro and Zsolt found the back of the net to close down the gap. Hawks didn’t know how to respond and a last minute goal from Levi secured the win by the smallest margin, 27-28 for Cambridge!

These important 3 points place Cambridge currently on the 5th position (on 25 points even with Ruislip in 4th, however Cambridge has a game in hand). The top of the table remains very close.

London GD is on 30 points with 2 more matches to play, Warrington on 27 points with 3 more matches to go, Olympia in 3rd place with 26 points and 3 matches to play, followed by Ruislip and Cambridge, both on 25 points, but Cambridge with 3 matches to go and Ruislip with 2.

Cambridge will be taking on Leeds, Warrington and London GD for the final matches of the season.

Leeds Hornets HC vs Cambridge HC

Cambridge HC vs Warrington Wolves

Cambridge HC vs London GD

Winning all matches would put them at 34 points, equal with London GD (assuming they win their other remaining game) and Warrington (assuming they win their other 2 games). However, Olympia has a shot for the top spot, too: If they win their remaining matches against Warrington, Leeds and NEM Hawks, they would be on 35 points (while Warrington might fall further behind). Ruislip could end up with 31 points if they win their remaining matches against London GD and Leeds, and NEM Hawks could secure another 6 points, taking them to 26 points if they beat Olympia and Manchester. As Cambridge has 3 matches remaining, we will finish with a minimum of 28 points, placing us above NEM Hawks, but potentially below Ruislip.

So, a close finish is expected for the league and a maximum effort to secure a top spot!

Wins for the teams in cup and league matches

The last 2 weekends saw our teams record wins in both the league competitions and the first round of the EHA Cup.

Our women’s team took on London Angels II in a top of the table clash in the London RDL and came out victorious with a final score of 21-19. Despite the fact that Angels only had a few players and due to injuries played the majority of their first half with one man down, Cambridge only established a modest lead which kept the match close until the end. However, a focussed performance in the end secured the crucial points for Cambridge who still have the chance to finish on top of the table with just 1 loss so far and 2 matches remaining against Medway Dragons this weekend, and Olympia HC the following.

 

NEM Hawks vs Cambridge HC

 

Our Super8 team played Leeds Hornets for the first time this season, and despite their low league ranking knew that we would have to put in a strong performance as Leeds had beaten Ruislip Eagles before the Christmas break. An aggressive, agile defence kept the Leeds attack at bay, while fast breaks and good interplay in the organised attack allowed Cambridge to take an early lead and maintain it throughout the intense and physical match. This resulted in a clear 40-29 victory for our boys, but unfortunately play maker Pepe sustained a serious facial injury early in the first time, that ruled him out and required hospital treatment. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can rejoin the team soon.

After the adults, our junior girls’ section played their first ever matches, in a friendly mini-tournament against teams from Ipswich, Brighton and Ealing. Despite being the youngest and least experienced players, our girls gave a great account of themselves and had a great time. Hopefully many more such games are to follow.

Last weekend saw the first round of the EHA Cup for our men’s team, and we travelled to Manchester to play our S8 opponent in a repeat of our league encounter. Despite having an unusual squad due to the absence of several players, the team performed well as a unit and recorded a 29-21 win, leading from the beginning and controlling the game for most of the time. Remarkably, all players got on the score sheet which truly shows the important contribution everyone made. This means, Cambridge is hosting Ruislip Eagles in the next round of the cup which is likely to be played on the 21.2.2016 in London.

Meanwhile, the coming 2 weekends we will be back in league action with all 3 adult teams.

The women taking on Medway Dragons in Medway early on Saturday morning (10.30AM), followed by the 1st men’s playing Ruislip in Sporthouse at 12.30PM for an exciting encounter in the Super8. On Sunday, our second team will be battling it out with Thames HC in the Copper box at 11.30AM.

 

Trainings and matches are restarting

After 2 lazy weeks without handball, it’s time to get back on court! Trainings are restarting on the 6th and 7th of January (junior followed by development training on Wednesday and team training on Thursday) and matches are following shortly after, with the women’s match taking on Fulham Hawks and the 2nd men’s team Newham Flames on the 9.1 and 10.1 respectively. Both teams are hoping to return to their winning ways after suffering defeats in their last matches in 2015. Only one week later, we will have a triple header home match day in the Olympic Copper Box, with the women’s team first taking on the all-hungarian London Angels, followed by the 1st men’s team hosting the Leeds Hornets and finishing with the first ever outing of our junior girls section, playing a couple of friendly matches against Ipswich and Brighton!

 

Win over top of the table for 1st team

Our men’s teams had their last matches of 2015 in the Copper Box this Sunday, with the first team facing the top of the table London GD and the 2nd team playing Islington HC. The first team managed to pull of a surprise win against London GD, keeping the league table extremely close. The top 5 team are all within 3 points of each other, and Cambridge HC is only trailing by another couple of points as we have played one match less, with our game against Leeds being postponed until April.

Unfortunately, the 2nd team did not manage to duplicate the 1st team’s success and lost to a strong Islington HC. This leaves our 2nd team in the middle of the table and we are hoping to get back to our winning ways when the games get under way again in January.

Fulham Hawks HC vs Cambridge HC

Cambridge HC vs Newham Flames HC

Cambridge HC vs Leeds Hornets HC

 

 

 

Defeat against Warrington despite good performance

Our first men’s team were travelling to Manchester for the 2nd time this season, this time to take on Warrington Wolves HC last Saturday. Playing in the Trafford Soccerdome, the team started very strongly, with an agile, aggressive 5-1 defence that kept the backcourt shooters of Warrington well in check. Both their experienced GB-Olympian Chris McDermott and their fast young players struggled with our defence, allowing Cambridge to open up an early lead. 20 minutes into the game, Cambridge was leading by 4 goals, but the energy-consuming defence took its toll and Cambridge couldn’t quite keep up the momentum, leading to some more goals now from the Wolves. They managed to close the gap by half time, and the teams went into a break at an even 16-16. Cambridge pledged to come out strong, but failed to deliver and an unfocused performance in the first 5-10 minutes of the 2nd half cost the team dearly, falling behind by 4 goals, not scoring for 5 minutes. Unprovoked mistakes started to creep in, and easy chances for scoring were missed, while the Wolves managed to capitalise more from our mistakes. The team rallied and managed to stop the gap from growing, but failed to narrow the margin by repeatedly missing good goal scoring chances and conceding unnecessary 2minute suspensions. The last 10 minutes of the game, Cambridge stepped up their game once more to put Warrington under pressure, trying to close down the gap once more. This was partially successful, with the hosts now acting noticeably more nervously, allowing Cambridge to gain chances again but unfortunately the conversion rate was not sufficient and Cambridge never managed to close the gap to more than 2 goals. In the end, the man-on-man defence created more shooting chances for Warrington and they managed to run out winners 33-28 in a very physical and hard fought match.

Although this means for Cambridge another defeat, the attitude and defence that was demonstrated throughout the vast majority of the game was admirable. Now it remains to cut out the 10 minutes (end of 1st half, beginning of 2nd half) that ultimately lost us the game, and remain focussed for 60minutes of the game! Our final Super8 match before Christmas is against London GD, who are currently top of the tables. However, last weekend saw their first defeat against Ruislip HC, so with a strong team performance, we know that it is possible to beat them.

Meanwhile, the coming weekend is match free for all of our teams, so we have arranged for some friendly matches for both our men’s and women’s teams against Norwich on Sunday, 6.12 between 12-4pm at Chesterton Community Sport Centre.

Next week we are back to league action with the first men’s team playing London GD, followed by the 2nd men’s team playing Islington HC (both in the Copper Box).

London GD vs Cambridge HC

Islington HC vs Cambridge HC

Mixed results for men’s team and Cup draw

This weekend saw both men’s teams in action again. Both the first team and the second team were hoping to recover from the defeats from last weekend.

The 2nd team took on Thames HC and started the match well, keeping the score close. At half time, Thames was leading by 2 goals but the team felt that with more focus this game can be won. Cambridge started well into the second half, and with 10 minutes played, the score was even at 15:15. However, at this point the focus of the team was lost, and Cambridge started to give away easy balls in attack. Bad passes, dropped balls and hectic play in general saw Cambridge concede 5 quick goals in a few minutes and the team never recovered from this setback. This momentary lapse in attention cost the team the points and left the team frustrated after a match that could have been ours.

The 1st team was keen to get back to winning after having lost against Ruislip last week. This weeks opponent was the newly promoted NEM Hawks, the 3rd team from the Manchester region in the S8 league, consisting of mainly young British players. A report of the match can be found here. In the end, Cambridge held on to the points after a tense match.

 

This Monday, the Cup draw was made and our Cambridge men’s team is paired against Manchester HC in the 2nd round after both teams getting a BYE for the first. The match is to be played on the weekend of the 23/24.1.2016 with Manchester hosting the game.