In their showing against regional rival UConn, the women of the Cornell polo struggled to break their losing streak. The Red had its match against the Huskies on Saturday with a home field advantage, but came away with a 17-10 loss.
“I honestly can say we just didn’t have a good day,” said senior Emma Eldredge. “That happens. We all get days where things just aren’t working out how we want them to, just as some days we will play incredibly well.”
The team’s previous matchup against UConn was down to the wire, with the Huskies pulling ahead by one goal. The fact that the two teams had played such a close game in their last showing added another level of pressure on the developing team.
“I think there was a lot riding on this match because we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win, since we lost by only one goal last time,” said junior Hannah Noyes. “I think coming out with that kind of anxiety and pressure to perform well and then still being a new team … was the biggest issue that we had.”
Unlike in its last game against UConn, the Red was never able to break its opponent’s lead. The first chukker ended with UConn up by five goals, and, although Cornell managed to close in and shrink the lead to only two goals during the second chukker, the Huskies managed to outscore the Red for the rest of the game. The third chukker ended with UConn up by five goals once again, and the game closed out with a score of 17-10.
“We’re still not at that kind of innate understanding of how everybody’s going to work every time we get on a horse and play together,” Noyes explained.
Now with six matches behind them and a 2-4 record, the Red needs to start polishing up its gameplay if the teams wants to end the season with a winning record and get a shot at nationals. The Bill Field Invitational is the women’s opportunity to do just that. With four days of consecutive, tournament-style gameplay meant to give teams more real-life gameplay for practice, the Bill Field Invitational can give Cornell the chance to overcome its setbacks and push forward.
“I’m still confident in my teammates that we will pull together for this tournament,” commented freshman Shariah Harris. “We’re just going to take [the loss against UConn] as being a minor setback because in previous practices and games we were starting to come together as a team and play well together.”
This tournament is early in the polo season and won’t affect the Red’s record. Instead, it will provide the developing team with legitimate gameplay to practice its teamwork in an environment with seemingly no consequences to their record.
This tournament will feature teams that the Red will see at Nationals, should the team tighten its gameplay enough to advance. In earlier years, Cornell women’s polo has hosted Skidmore, Texas A&M, and the University of Virginia with this tournament, all of which are highly competitive and capable teams.
Last year, the women came into the invitational with a 5-1 record, something that Eldredge is slightly grateful that they don’t have now.
“In some ways I actually prefer to have a losing record because that takes a lot of the pressure off of our team,” Eldridge said. “You have expectations to uphold when you have a winning record [but] with a losing record people don’t expect you to play well and you can use that to your advantage.”
These opponents have also not seen Cornell polo’s current team, so this tournament will give both sides a firsthand look into how the other teams play and how they need to improve as a team themselves.
“We have never played [Texas A&M] before with the team that we have now, so it will be a good game to tell us where we stand and how far we need to continue growing as a team,” Harris said.
From Nov. 16 to Nov. 20, Cornell will be hosting the Bill Field Invitational, where hopefully both the women’s and men’s polo teams will emerge victorious.