Through the prism of the 21st century, the idea of an annual sporting contest as the culmination of a team’s hard work, sweat, and camaraderie has a purity that holds up well over many years. In a two-day cricket match 188 years ago, Oxford and Cambridge established this tradition and cemented the Varsity concept with an annual boat race in 1829 (when the Blues became Oxford and Cambridge the light Blues). In fact, lacrosse is also played very well throughout the UK, and has had its Annual Varsity every year since the inaugural 1903 match, only breaking for the two World Wars.
The two women’s, two men’s, and the mixed lacrosse teams thus compete for the Varsity trophy (with draws going to the side of the previous year’s winner), this year’s match hosted on the beautiful playing fields of St John’s College, Cambridge.
Oxford won at Varsity last year, hence with a men’s draw and victory, a women’s and mixed loss, the 99th Annual Lacrosse Varsity came down to the other women’s match, in which our favorite OESH summer intern and erstwhile Fresher at Oxford, Jayme Kusyk (#2 on the far left, above), was going to be a participant.
Given that the Cambridge team had played its 10 game regular season in dominant form, going undefeated and bashing Oxford twice in the process, the match was seemingly doomed for Oxford when the Blues called their last timeout, trailing by 5 goals with the last grains of sand nearly dumped into the bottom of the hourglass.
The Oxford student newspaper, the Cherwell, also reported: in what was one of the most nail-biting matches ever experienced by most of the players and many of the spectators…At 7-2 down with 20 minutes to go, the Swifts called a time out and co-captains Sophie Poston and Rachel Wright gave the team talk of their lacrosse careers. In an incredible show of grit and determination, Oxford took control of the remaining third of the match and completely reversed the momentum of the game.
This magnificent shot helped. We asked Jayme afterward if she remembered launching it and she said “yep, that was the only place I saw it could go, right between the goalie’s legs”. The score made it 7-5. One of our favorite family metaphors is that “life is a great reflection of lacrosse”, and when the momentum…in life, a game, whatever… begins to roll your way, GO FOR IT! The caption (repeated in the photo below from the OULC Facebook page), says it all.
Then wrote Helen Record of the Cherwell: With 30 seconds to go and the score even at 7-7, Oxford transitioned the ball straight to attack from the centre draw and in a moment that she, nor anyone else watching, shall not forget easily, Jayme Kusyk scored her fifth goal of the match and sealed Oxford’s victory.
We also pried the info from Jayme that she was indeed named Player Of The Match, and gets to cart around a trophy for the rest of her life. We told her that should make for a splendid goblet suitable for all occasions when drinking is required, such as tonight when we pick her up at the airport and bring her home to celebrate stateside.