Upon arrival at Honor Oak Park, I received a warm welcome from an impossibly loud megaphone.
It was the last thing I wanted to hear after having spent a solid half hour trekking through the grounds of the Camberwell New Cemetery, having been criminally misled by a sign labelled ‘Honor Oak Sports Ground’. I plunked myself down into the green bleacher chair, ready to zero in on the action unfolding on the field before me.
That’s when it started. The UCL fans arrived in swarms, armed with noisemakers, face-paint, and too many 17 pound multi-pint pitchers to count. Among their armada of paraphernalia was the megaphone, into which the wielder howled, “Number two, you think you’re a Ninja Warrior, but did you win Raven?”.
Any one part of this chaos would have been enough for me to sprint up from the field and throw my cleat at the purple and blue-clad cohort, but this might just up to the fact that this was my very first time experiencing the Varsity spirit. For the KCLHC women, however, this was a complete non-issue. It was abundantly clear from the first face off that the team were all completely in the zone, and no level of UCL ridiculousness could change that. King’s had showed up, and were a hundred and ten percent ready to wipe the pitch with the competition.
The KCLHC women’s team are no strangers to Varsity victory, hoping to add to their impressive track record of 4 consecutive wins. Unfazed by the harsh cries of the UCL supporters, King’s began the match by valiantly fending off a hungry UCL attack. Instantly under offensive pressure, the King’s defence stepped it up, supported by excellent play from net minder Anna Martin. Just ten short minutes into play, forward Angie Price, fought her way into the D, scoring the opening goal for King’s. As the scoreboard flipped to display 1-0, the UCL rabble were blissfully silent.
The pace of the match picked up, and UCL, hardly discouraged, continued to control possession, fighting to even the score.. With their confidence boosted by the early 1st goal, King’s was able to fend off the attack with slick passion and constant communication. Soon after, an unlucky play allowed the opponents to score the equaliser, making it 1-1.
“UCL stepped it up quite a lot,” First year defender Daria Galkina told Roar, “It was quite important to prove that we’ve still got it.”
In the midst of unrelenting pressure, King’s broke into the zone and had a chance at a penalty flick following a UCL foul, only to have it denied by the goalie. Remaining in the zone, King’s whiffed on a short corner, but fought their way out of the ensuing offensive rush. Taking advantage of a tired UCL attack and capitalizing on continuous support from the back end by Martin, captain Lizzie Godwin passed a perfect ball to Tori Needham on the back post who effortlessly slotted the ball in, bringing the score to 2-1 King’s. This was Needham’s first goal of the season, and it absolutely couldn’t have come at a better time.
After a short-corner-filled start to the second half, King’s generated a slew of chances, supported by the rallying chants of King’s fans. The tectonic plates shifted as UCL failed to convert on a 2-on-1, and King’s brought it all the way down the field where they were awarded yet another short corner. Deciding to change up their routine, Jenny Morris took the injection, sending the ball straight out to Nicky Screawn who slipped it to Katy Henman who slapped then ball across the front of the keeper where Angie Price slid in for a beautiful lifted deflection. The score was 3-1, and King’s knew the title was once again in their hands.
As the final whistle sounded, the team and fans alike exploded into cheers, celebrating a 5th consecutive year of Varsity triumph. Speaking on their secret to success that day, Galkina had a very simple answer for me. “We were better,” She stated, grinning. “We had it, kept on going, and scored again and again.” The UCL fans may have brought it in the stands, but none of that mattered, because King’s ultimately did all the talking, the difference being that they were able to do it on the field.