Coming off dominant performances in New Haven, Conn., last weekend, the men’s and women’s polo teams are getting back in the saddle. The men will face Skidmore on the road today, while the women will also head to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Sunday. The women will also host the Maryland Polo Club at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Oxley Equestrian Center.
The men were scheduled to play Skidmore for their season opener, but Thoroughbred injuries forced them to cancel the trip to Ithaca. In their last meeting in November of 2005, the Red successfully defended home territory by a score of 18-10.
Senior captain Stan Feldman will guide sophomores Richard Weidel and Jesse Llop against Skidmore tonight. Weidel had eight goals in last Friday’s lopsided 30-3 victory over Yale, a feat which may come in handy against Skidmore.
[img_assist|nid=19590|title=polo|desc=The women’s polo team will look to avenge last February’s 20-11 loss to the Maryland Polo Club tomorrow at home.|link=popup|align=right|width=100|height=57]
“[The Skidmore team is] healthy again,” he said. “They’re a lot like the Yale team we played last week. They’re very young.”
The women recorded a 26-7 rout against the Thoroughbreds in the Red’s season opener at Oxley Equestrian Center, so they can approach the game with confidence. Head coach David Eldredge ’81, however, has an entirely different attitude towards facing Skidmore on their home turf.
“Going to play them in their home arena is completely different from playing them here. We could play a little bit more traditional play here at Cornell, but we’re going to have to switch up [more at Skidmore]. …You have to depend upon your teammates even more than usual because it’s such a small ring,” Eldredge said.
Both the men and women will have to deal with this problem. The women’s team is also looking forward to a rematch against the elite Maryland club team. In their last meeting, the Red lost to Maryland in a tough, 20-11, contest last February.
“They’re physically much stronger than us. They’re each about twice our size,” said senior captain Ariel Katz said. “But we can match up with them in other ways. Hopefully, we’re looking to rebound this year and play better.”
The Red will host the Bill Field Invitational in two weeks, a fall classic which draws top programs from across the country and is widely regarded as the fall version of the national tournament.
“In preparation for that, we needed to get some pretty competitive teams to come in,” Eldredge said. “We needed a team of Maryland’s caliber to come. … It’s going to be a really, really good fast-running game.”
Seniors Genna Horvath and Nancy Glober and sophomore Ariana Constant are “vying for the alternate spot,” according to Eldredge. Their play in last Saturday’s 26-4 traming of the Bulldogs, in which each played three chukkers, served as a great confidence-builder.
“There was no safety net for them. The starters weren’t there [to help them].… They were expected to perform. Now they know that they can perform,” Eldredge said.
He is comfortable that they will perform well on the field against Skidmore. He will then send out a veteran starting line-up for the Maryland game, consisting of seniors Julie Nicholson, Ariel Katz and Monica Ganley. The women’s main focus now is to maintain their composure on the field.
“We’re still trying to improve ourselves as a team, to not lose our cool and to play four solid chukkers,” Katz said.