Cornell had a double win weekend in Oxley Equestrian Center on Friday and Saturday, as both the women’s and the men’s polo teams defeated Texas A&M. The women ran past the Aggies with a seven goal win, 18-11, while the men took an early lead to beat A&M, 22-16.
The women (9-5) came off a week of rest when they faced A&M on Friday night. In the first chukker, despite a mentally shaky start, the Red took a four goal lead. Senior captain Ali Hoffman said the team had some trouble quickly settling down into the game.
“We were overreacting to things, which is not unusual for us, but usually we get in control of it faster,” she said. “We didn’t get there till right before halftime, that was sort of a challenge for us in the first half. Once we finally got there, it was our very clean and regular playing style.” By halftime, Cornell had increased its lead to 11-5.
The Cornell men’s polo team (8-6) also had a successful weekend, which the squad believes got them back on track before regional play begins, according to sophomore Nik Feldman, who led the team with 11 goals in Friday’s game.
“We felt really good [about the win], we definitely knew we needed a win going into the break; we knew we needed something to build momentum on,” he said.
The Aggies scored the first goal of the men’s game, but the Red claimed the lead from the second chukker, going into the half with a six goal lead over A&M. Only in the third chukker did the Red slightly falter, allowing the Aggies to score six goals, while Cornell only tallied three.
“We want to keep a certain pace, we lost in one of the chukkers, and what was good is we lost in the middle but were able to pick it back up in the end of the game. It’s nice to know we could rebound by the end,” Feldman said.
At halftime for the women, sophomore Elizabeth LeBow was substituted for senior Amanda Stern. The Aggies tied the Red in goals during the third chukker, with both teams tallying three. However, Cornell finished strong, limiting A&M to three additional goals in the fourth chukker, while the Red added five. Sophomore Kailey Eldredge led the team with 11 points.
“We were working really hard to be ahead of the ball,” LeBow said. “Fourth chukker was the best chukker by being ahead of the play.”
Hoffman said that the team played better in the second half than the first, even though the score board was relatively equal between both halves. Strong communication may have made up for the team’s choppiness in the first half.
“First half was very choppy and not our normal clean playing style, we were just rushing ourselves,” the senior captain said. “[Amanda] was calling more plays from behind, which is usually a role Kailey or I will take on, so I think that one of the reasons we were so successful during the first half when we may not have necessarily been playing as well was because she stepped up and helped us out there too.”
According to Hoffman, Texas A&M had a similar playing style to Virginia, who the women lost to last week.
“They play [in a] very similar style to UVA — they’re very open, they run very quickly,” she said. “I think it was good that we were able to get back in that same situation and utilize the opportunities we missed at UVA and actually make them count for something.”
The men and women’s most formidable opponent in the regional tournament will be Connecticut. The game against Texas A&M may have offered the squads the preparation they will need for the upcoming matchup against the Huskies. The Red returns to action in the USPA Northeast Intercollegiate Regionals starting on March 29.
“[UConn and A&M] both have three solid players capable of scoring goals,” Feldman said. “It was a confidence boost for us to play that kind of team and win.”
Feldman said that the team resolved some trust issues that have been reoccurring concerns on the field this season and the Red is looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“We’re building on trusting each other more, and it’s something we have to maintain,” he said. “As this game shows, when we trust each other, it works well and yields results.”
Original Author: Andrea Sielicki