The Red polo teams are hosting the Bill Field Invitational at the Oxley Equestrian Center, which begins today and goes through until Sunday. This competition is the largest intercollegiate polo tournament in the country. In its 15th year, this fall classic has become a venue to showcase the level of play of teams from different regions.
In total, there will be 14 games played over the next five days by the 12 teams participating in the invitational. Of these 12 teams, six are men’s teams and six are women’s teams.
The six squads are then separated into two brackets, three teams per bracket. Each team plays two games within its bracket before a winner of the bracket is decided. Then, the winners of the two brackets play Sunday in the championship match.
In the end, these games are only exhibitions and they do not count toward any team’s season record. However, the Bill Field Invitational is still taken very seriously.
This tournament gives the Polo Association a way to rank teams nationally by finding out how squads from around different regions play against each other in competition. In addition to this, the tournament is used by coaches to scout the strength of other teams, keeping in mind the possibility of facing them again come national championship time.
Yale, Skidmore, UConn, and UVA are all sending men’s and women’s teams, while Colorado State is just sending a women’s team and Texas Tech is only bringing a men’s team.
All in all, Cornell head coach David Eldredge ’81 is looking forward to competing in the tournament.
“Considering the East has been dominating for the past couple of years, and since teams which expect to be national contenders come from throughout the country, I expect to see some quality games this week,” Eldredge said.
Despite having to play a possible three games in five days, Eldredge is not expecting to change his game plan or his starters.
“The distribution of playing time depends on who we play. These games give me a chance to see how certain players are doing. It gives me a chance to see how someone plays in such highly competitive games,” Eldredge said.
For the women, Eldredge is keeping in mind that he has two probable starters coming back for the spring season in juniors Ariel Katz and Julie Nicholson.
This tournament gives him the opportunity to look at the rest of the players and help guide his decision on who will play with Katz and Nicholson as the third starter in the spring.
On the other side, the men are very excited to potentially take on Texas Tech. There will be plenty of opportunities to battle other regional rivals in the invitational, but Texas Tech is new competition which the Red would normally not face.
Other than Texas Tech, the UVA game is also highly anticipated, since it is the rematch of last year’s national final game.
When all is said and done, Eldredge said that the Bill Field Invitational is going to be the biggest event the Oxley Equestrian Center will see this fall.
Archived article by Roman Barinas
Sun Staff Writer