This being Magdalen’s second time in the Cuppers Final in as many years, captain Richard Clark and his team came out wanting it more than ever and fighting hard. Worcester, led by Michael Balderson, were no shrinking violets though. What began as a fairly pedestrian, calm game of hockey in the first half (with lots of good attacking and defensive play on both teams’ parts) quickly turned into an unfolding drama in the second half.
Worcester upped the aggression after half time; coming back strong and tilting the balance of possession in their favour. There were spectacular saves both from Magdalen’s goalie Alex Tracy and Worcester’s Will Barnes and particularly impressive steals and shots on goal from all Blues on the pitch: Miranda Elvidge and Olie Lobo for Worcester and Duncan Graves and Tom Claughton for Magdalen.
With ten minutes to go before the final whistle, Worcester’s Ed Burns scored from a penalty.
With this, a frustratingly disallowed goal earlier in the match and a yellow card for their captain stemming therefrom, all seemed lost for Magdalen and a repeat of the previous year’s misfortune seemed imminent. But, with seconds to go and in the final play of the match, star player and fresher Tom Claughton came to the rescue with a spectacular push shot from a short corner which he planted straight into the back left-hand corner of Worcester’s goal.
The final whistle went and the tension began to rise with the score resting at 1-1. The decision to take it to a penalty shoot-out was made by the two umpires and Worcester’s goalie Will Barnes was first to step into the net. Egged on by some strong support, Magdalen scored their first penalty with little trouble.
With Alex Tracy now in goal for Magdalen, Worcester matched Magdalen’s first penalty with as much ease and the deadlock continued.
After five, nail-biting shots on goal for each team, resulting in 4 successful goals for Magdalen and only 3 for Worcester, the tie was broken and an elated Magdalen team couldn’t hide their relief.
Final score (combined game play and penalty shoot-out): Magdalen 5, Worcester 4.
ALL IMAGES//Frazier Bailey