Another year, another Varsity, and another great win for Imperial College Swim and Water Polo (ICSWP). Varsity is one of the most hotly anticipated meetups of the year for ICSWP and their Medic counterparts, ICSMWP, and this year was no different. In an Ethos filled to capacity with eager spectators, the rivalry between IC and ICSM reached levels higher than the pre-covid era. Indeed, throughout the season, both teams have shared players for national and regional competitions, leading the Medics to gain 1st place in London league, while IC qualified to the final of the LUSL cup (to be played this Friday). So, it was with great anticipation that both sides assembled themselves at Ethos on 17th March.
In a twist with respect to the latest years, this year a grand total of three games were played, with an outstanding performance from all the six teams participating.
After Sean’s excellent goal in the first quarter, it was quickly clear to that this year would be just like every other year: incredibly painful and downright depressing for the Medics. With IC 2s captain Nic leading the charge, the result was never really in doubt. Despite a brief flicker of hope in the second quarter when the Medics managed to get ahead by one goal, IC buckled down during the third and fourth quarters, when Medic enthusiasm and aggression gave way to our discipline in defence (partially thanks to the screams and compulsive hand-waving of the acting-coach Betsy) and ruthless efficiency in attack. IC won the tough but exciting game 5-7.
Next up were the Women’s 1s, led by the immense Philo. After a one-year hiatus, IC girls were back in action and in incredible form, playing harder, faster and stronger than the Medics could handle. This game didn’t even give them an opportunity to equalise, as goal after goal was scored in an impressive demonstration of precision and power from IC. The girls also demonstrated some excellent defensive plays, forcing the Medics to always be on the back foot when in IC’s side of the pool, struggling just to get a ball on target, let alone score against one of the best goalkeepers in the league, Megan. Even when given the opportunity to take penalties, Megan acted as a literal wall, saving three of the Medics’ attempts and ruining many a Medic’s hopes and dreams. IC star player Matilda left the Medics clueless during counters, often leading the charge with some excellent one-on-ones which the Medics could do little but watch, their nearest defensive player still trying to catch up. The final score of 6-1 to IC really reflects just how little chance the Medics had.
The final game was between the Men’s 1s. Despite IC’s coach shamelessly playing for the Medics, nothing could stop the inevitable. With a long bench that would keep the boys fresh and well-rested, ICSWP played some excellent polo. IC’s centre-forward and upcoming BUCS captain Patrick quickly became the top scorer from his position, thanks to his pluriannual experience in the field. The four captains, Jahan, Angelo, Lorenzo and Tom coordinated the team’s effort, both from the side and in the pool. As centre-back, Lorenzo acted like a fortress that no Medic could even attempt to assail. Jahan played excellently in all positions, with his speed on the wing, and playing just as effectively when acting as centre-back. Jackie and Betsy gave ICSWP some of their strongest performances this season, leading to many of the Medics arguing about who would mark them, and even more requesting to swap out after just a few minutes of their fury. Finally, Tom performed with his usual flair, taking shots from 5 to 6 metres that effortlessly and consistently found the back of the net. IC concluded the evening with a 14-7 victory.
In summary, it was a very hot and exciting Friday evening. After a hard-fought, and, at times, intense season, it was heart-warming to see all teams display their full range of waterpolo abilities and win so convincingly. ICs Women 1s and Mixed 2s teams were both formed just this year and seeing them perform so cohesively and with such vigour was a spectacle few could have imagined in October. After all the games were done, all teams descended on the Union, for a night of reconciliation with the Medics, who desperately needed the emotional support. Medics, IC wishes you the best of luck for 2024, you’ll need it.