“If you are going to win the national championship, you have got to go through Cornell.”
Such are the sentiments held by the women’s polo team expressed by its head coach, David Eldredge ’81. As the Red dives into the 2004-05 season, it is in hot pursuit of its sixth straight national championship and its 12th since 1976.
Yet, this championship run will be a tale of two seasons. The polo season is split by a seven-week hiatus, as mandated by the Ivy League. Absent from the starting lineup during the fall season will be senior Molly Buck, who is taking the fall semester off in order to be able to compete in the spring. Shouldering the load in her absence will be returning starter Harriet Antczak and senior Lindsey Scheer. The fall season will be critical for these two players as they look to sharpen their skills. It will be especially key for Scheer, who is slated to be the third starter in the spring alongside Buck and Antczak.
In Buck’s absence, splitting time will be sophomores Ariel Katz and Julie Nicholson, who are looking to capitalize on the opportunity to improve and gain invaluable exposure. Their growth is furthered by the chances they receive in every practice — playing against championship caliber players.
“We have a young team this semester and are trying to put things together as best as we can,” Eldredge said. “If we had to go to nationals with this team, we could make a run because of the amount of experience we’re getting.”
The Red has gotten off to a shaky start this season, however. Its 86-match winning streak was snapped in an opening season loss to Virginia, runner up in three of the last five championship games. Early losses to Connecticut, one of the top challengers for the Red’s crown, exposed some of the team’s weaknesses.
Nevertheless, while the team is still looking to fit all of its pieces together, Eldredge feels that it has been executing better as the season has progressed.
In the spring, with Buck back in the lineup, the women will likely be one of the top contenders for the national title.
Buck is coming off of a stellar year in which she garnered All-East and All-American honors. Additionally, the team will feature two starters from last years championship team.
“Championship experience is valuable because you can’t buy it and you can’t make it,” Eldredge said.
As the team builds and prepares for the spring — early season losses aside — it knows that it is still the team to beat.
Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Staff Writer