A late comeback from Canterbury Christ Church, and a winner in the 90 th
minute led to Christ Church taking the all-important point for the overall Varsity
standings. The game started at a frantic pace with two goals finding the back of the net in the first ten minutes of the game. Christ Church opened the scoring in the 5 th minute, as Kate Foster showed great skill in the middle of the park and set Chloe Wooloway in on goal, who applied the finish, leaving the Kent keeper, Francesca de Lorenzi rooted to the spot. Kent didn’t stay down for the long, however. In the 8th minute a mistake at the back was pounced on by Kent, who squared the ball to Julie Audinet to tap into an empty net.
After such a furious start to proceedings, the game started to slow down, with
both sides cancelling each other out. Neither side was able to retain possession for
too long and there were few sights of goal before later in the half. As half-time was
approaching Christ Church seemed to be the team in the ascendancy, and Kent
have de Lorenzi to thank for remaining on level terms. Christ Church continued to try and get the ball in behind the Kent back line, but de Lorenzi was quick off her line and seemed to be sweeping anything that came towards her.
With half time mere moments away, Christ Church turned up the heat, with a
pair of penalty shouts turned down and goal line clearances aplenty as the scores
were just about kept level as the referee’s whistle blew. It was plain to see that Kent would be the happier side to be able to go back to the changing rooms and attempt to regroup.
In stark contrast to the end of the first half, Kent came out of the traps the
quicker in the second period and took the lead before too long. Another defensive
error after 53 minutes allowed Kent in down the right-hand side, and an excellent
finish across the goal from captain Irene Hung put Kent in the driving seat.
The game did not persist like this for long, Christ Church used the goal to spur
them on and Kent could barely get out of their half for long stretches. On the hour
mark Christ Church breached the Kent defence, but a lack of composure in front of
goal meant that a two vs one with de Lorenzi was wasted.
But, after 77 minutes Christ Church finally got themselves back on to level
terms. A free-kick from the right looped in to the back post, with the header being
saved but the ball wasn’t cleared far enough and after a brief goalmouth scramble
the net bulged and we were staring at a blockbuster final ten minutes.
Just as we started to think that penalties were assured, a moment of brilliance
gave Christ Church the victory. The Kent goal seemed in no danger as the ball was
loose about 35 yards from goal on the left wing, but Nicole Pepper had other ideas,
as she blasted it from distance and found the roof of the net, sending the bumper
Christ Church fans into extasy, the whole team mobbed their centre-back and just
moments later the whistle blew and victory was assured.
On balance, Christ Church deserved the victory, they were the dominant side
throughout and limited Kent to just a few shots on goal. But the stand-out performer was the Kent number 1, Francesca de Lorenzi, her sweeping up at the back was exceptional and she made a series of outstanding saves to keep Kent in the game for as long as they were. Drama like we saw is what Varsity is made of, and if Christ Church can claw the overall scores back from here, then this moment could be the one they look to as the catalyst for their victory.