After jumping out to a 3-0 lead after the first chukker, the women’s polo team was unable to maintain its momentum and fell to Colorado State, 12-9, in the semifinals of the USPA nationals.
It was a game characterized by tough defense from both ends with Colorado State’s raw and unconventional play eventually getting the better of the Red.
“[Colorado State] goes hard the entire game,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “Their physical play really changed the flow of the game.”
In a sloppy first half, Cornell got two goals apiece from juniors Ariel Katz and Julie Nicholson to take a 4-3 lead into halftime. Neither team had full control of play in the first half as the game was played mainly in the trenches with few scoring chances for either squad.
As the third chukker opened, the Rams notched two quick goals to take the lead. Cornell battled back with an apparent goal by Nicholson, but soon found out the goal would be disallowed due to a crossing violation against the Red.
“That was the critical point in the game,” Eldredge said. “We thought we had a goal for sure, but the referees seemed to be the only ones who saw it differently.”
Instead of a tie game, Colorado State remained ahead and would go on to score two consecutive goals to extend its lead to 7-4. Katz scored a brilliant goal at the buzzer to bring the Red within two heading into the final chukker.
As the fourth chukker opened, Katz struck a shot from beyond the midline that carried all the way to the goal to tie the game up at 7-7. Nicholson would score a few seconds later to give the Red the lead. Despite the lead, Cornell knew it had yet to change the course of the match.
“We did not have control at that point,” Eldredge said. “I was hoping it would give us a jolt, but CSU still maintained control. The end result showed that.”
Cornell’s lead would be brief, as Colorado State scored the game’s next five goals, proving that the momentum was still squarely in its palms. Cornell would score the game’s final goal off a rebound of a 15-yard penalty shot by Nicholson, but the match was already decided at that point.
Eldredge noted that the polo world did not expect a lot from Cornell this year and at the beginning of the season it would have been a stretch to put this team in the nationals, let alone the semifinals.
“I am proud of the girls,” Eldredge said. “This year was definitely a success.”
Of the four players who competed at nationals, Cornell loses only senior Morgan O’Brien to graduation. Katz, Nicholson and junior Morgan Ganley – who split time with O’Brien – will all return to the pitch next season.
Archived article by Patrick Blakemore Sun Staff Writer