By ELANI COHEN
With 3-2 and 3-1 records respectively, the Cornell men’s and women’s polo teams are feeling confident as they prepare to take on opponents over the coming weeks. The women’s polo team has faced strong opponents, including teams from Maryland, University of Connecticut, and Skidmore College. The Red is looking forward to its upcoming matches against University of Massachusetts and University of Connecticut this weekend.
The men’s polo team has also done exceptionally well these past few weeks — its most recent matches against University of Kentucky and Skidmore College ended in Cornell’s favor. The men’s team began the weekend with a win against Skidmore College at Skidmore’s polo grounds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. After the first chukker, which included seven goals by senior captain Nik Feldman, the Red had a 9-0 lead. By half, due to Feldman’s replacement by freshman Ignacio Masais, Skidmore caught up to the Red to close the gap with a score of 12-7. With the help of seniors Tate Lavitt and Emerson Bilodeau, the Red ended with a 15-2 win in the third chukker, which allowed the team to finish the match the match victorious with a score of 37-14.
“Skidmore allowed us the opportunity to play in a difficult environment, and we met the challenge very well,” Feldman said. “Ignacio was scrappy and Emerson was aggressive. We controlled the pace throughout the entire game, which is rare playing in an opponents arena with their horses.”
Feldman put in a solid performance with an overall game total of 22 goals. The Red’s quick playing style has been working to the team’s advantage, he said.
“There isn’t another team out there that can play a fast-paced game like we can, and what we can expect to see throughout the season are teams that will try to slow the game down,” Feldman said. “If we play our game — a fast one — we’ll beat everyone. That is what we are working on.”
The team says it is tenacious in its pursuit of victory. A week after the win against Skidmore, the Red went into its match against the University of Kentucky — which was played at Cornell’s own Oxley Equestrian Center — determined to be successful. The match began with Kentucky taking a 2-0 lead, but it was quickly relinquished to Cornell. By the end of the first chukker, the score was 5-2 in Cornell’s favor. Since Cornell proved to be a threat, Kentucky decided to change up its game plan, which leveled the score to a close 9-6 by half. However, it could not hold Cornell for long. The Red dominated the third chukker and entered the fourth with a 16-9 lead. Kentucky could not overcome the Red’s advantage. The match ended in Cornell’s favor with a final score of 26-10.
“Kentucky, like always, was a match of both physical and mental challenge,” Feldman said. “It’s always a rough game. The second chukker was the only period we tied goals with Kentucky, when they were able to slow the game down.”
Like the men’s team, the Cornell women’s polo team is having a great season thus far, and is looking forward to its future matches. The team is anxiously awaiting its upcoming matches against its two biggest rivals — University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts. The games will take place in Storrs, Conn. and Ithaca, N.Y., respectively. Both teams are tough opponents for the Red, but based on its past successes, the Red is confident that it will be victorious in both matches.
“UConn and UMass are two of our biggest rivals in our region,” senior Elizabeth Lebow said. “UConn has an especially good team this year, and will probably be our biggest competition for the National Championship next semester. We beat UConn earlier this season, but the second match up is always a little bit tougher, because they now have a glimpse of how we play. But the opposite is also true, we now know exactly what to expect from them. We are lucky to have an incredibly strong team this year, and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The team is determined to show both rivals its strong abilities, and achieve a weekend sweep in its matches this weekend.