The end of the second chukker was nearing when a timeout was called. Just prior to the timeout, a member of the University of Virginia polo squad had committed a crossing violation against Cornell’s Greg Wolff ’93. In the confusion surrounding the return to action, the mounted umpires declined to consult with the referee on the sideline and mistakenly awarded the penalty to the Cavaliers rather than the Red. Virginia scored a goal, and the game was tied going into the break.
This was the 1993 Collegiate National Championship game, and two of the greatest rivals in collegiate polo were facing off. The defending champion Cornell squad was on the verge of a repeat performance. The errant call proved crucial though, as the game was again tied late in the fourth chukker. Wolff stepped up to take a foul shot, which in 1993 was allowed to be defended by a player standing in front of the goal.
“Greg hit a rocket of a shot,” recalled polo head coach David Eldredge ’81. “The player in the goal never saw it coming, but it hit off the horse’s nose and bounced straight up,” which maintained the tie.
The game ended pretty quickly after that. “The ball got down in front of the Virginia goal, and they just put it in,” said Wolff. “It was bitterly disappointing.”
Nine years later, Greg Wolff made his return to Oxley this past weekend as the coach of the Stanford polo team. Wolff is a graduate of the College of Art, Architecture and Planning, in which he majored in landscape architecture. The Cooperstown, NY native now lives in the Bay Area and works as a city planner. He coaches the Cardinal in his spare time.
“Greg was one of the crown jewels of our program,” said Eldredge, who takes great pride in the fact that he is now able to coach against one of his former players. “He came to Cornell having never ridden a horse before, he got to the point in three years of challenging for a starting spot, and he ended up being the alternate [for the 1992 National Championship team].”
“I had the opportunity to go to Texas [in 1992 for the National Championship], and it’s a terrific experience to see all the other regional winning teams,” Wolff reminisced following his team’s 20-9 loss to the Cornell men Saturday night.
As the coach of the Stanford polo team, Wolff is trying to follow the lead of his mentor Eldredge and take the trip to the national tournament. The Cardinal women’s team is extremely young and inexperienced, but Wolff explained, “playing a team like Cornell can only help us.”
The Red women bested Stanford’s women’s team Friday night 34-2. The more experienced Stanford men’s team played an extremely competitive game against the Cornell men Saturday night, even outscoring the Red in the fourth chukker 4-2.
“We’re hoping to do well in our regional tournament, which will be in late February,” said Wolff. “We’ll see the fast-paced kind of game that Cornell plays again if we are fortunate enough to reach the semi-finals or finals [of the Western Regionals].”
Archived article by Owen Bochner