The University Dodgeball League concluded this weekend with Imperial Wolverines 1s retaining the University League South title. Wolverines 1s managed to finish the season unbeaten. They overpowered everyone along the way, including: Hertfordshire A with their Dodgeball World Cup finalist import; UCL Pumas with their stretching of the rules both on and off the court; and UEA Falcons 1s with their microscopic player who is literally impossible to hit. Imperial now venture to Leicester next month to compete at the University League Finals, a final showdown of every regional league winner to competing to be dodgeball’s Crème de la Crème. Until Sunday, the League still had not been fully decided. A poor Imperial effort could have allowed Hertfordshire A to snatch the league victory, regardless of Imperial’s two victories over them already. Wolverines 1s versus UCL Pumas would prove a pivotal game in the ultimate league result. Bidding for third place, UCL needed this win just as much as the league leaders did.
The fixture began, and Imperial were quick to assert their dominance over the initial sets. UCL were very keen to pressure Steve Ndumbe into the corner, but quick counter attacks from Nithin Thoppuram helped equalise any deficits. A quick dominance turned into a hard slog of having to earn every point to the bitter end. The scoreboard read 8-4 to Imperial just before the last set of the first half. Both teams gave everything and with only ten seconds remaining, UCL found themselves a player up after some ferocious throwing. However, a magical short distance catch by Lochlann Allison that forced him to the floor just before the blow of the whistle turned what would have been a nerve-wrecking 8-6 half time score into a slightly more comfortable 10-4 lead.
However, UCL was far from done, and after the teams traded games in the second half, a chaotic set with a number of questionable ref calls, including a catch by next year’s club captain Leo Haigh that was not acknowledged, saw our rivals reduce the lead to 12-8. At this point Imperial stepped up their game and employed the tactic they are best at – systematic and organised play, aimed at maximising the time each set lasts, slowly (in the case of UCL rather quickly) infuriating the opponent and forcing them to make silly mistakes.
Getting the last Wolverine off the court proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for the UCL team and with a series of catch-and-outs by Vinolan Arulananthan, Filip Sebest, and George Fish, only three more games were played in the second half, two of which went to Imperial for a final score of 16-10. This match secured the league victory for the Imperial 1s regardless of the last game against UEA 1s, which for completion ended in favour of Imperial with the score of 19-5. UCL were destined for 4th place as a consequence.
However, it wasn’t just the 1s celebrating – our 2s had a very successful season too, finishing 2nd out of all second teams, with a strong last weekend epitomised by MVP Yan Jin and her remarkable catching. Nonetheless, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and they had their fair share of adversity to overcome: an absent captain, a player with literally no concept of time, and a yogurt with ridiculous on-court antics. The final match of the league between Imperial 2s and Southampton 2s was to decide who would take the 2nd place amongst all the second teams. Intelligent calling and powerful throwing by Nifemi Adejumobi saw the 2s take an early 7-1 lead. The Southampton team would have none of that and with a couple of organised games targeting our wingmen, they quickly caught up to 7-5 and had hope at half time.
Luckily, the second half was more convincing from our 2s, with an eye-catching diving dodge by Mink Radtanajiravong, a pirouette dodge by Jinay Patel, and multiple catches coming from Yan Jin and James Mellor-Rice. Great team effort saw the 2s pull out an overall 17-9 victory over a spirited and friendly Southampton 2nd team.
The excitement is not just contained to the court however, with AGM promises of a tour, extra socials, and Hugo Boss kit, next year is shaping to be another great year for Imperial Dodgeball, as we seek to maintain the title and establish our inaugural women’s team. So if you want to get involved in our competitive mixed teams next year, or want to join one of our many social members, look out for the Wolverine sign at Fresher’s Fair. And remember: Throw Together, Dodge Alone.