Even though the season is still in its early stages, each win gets a bit sweeter for the women’s and men’s polo squads.
On Friday evening, the lady riders notched their best victory of the season, defeating Virginia, the same club they defeated to take the crown last year.
Freshman Marisa Bianchi, sophomore Taylor McLean, and junior Liz Antzcak each lit the lamp in the first chukker in Charlottesville, Va. Despite the trio’s efforts the Red found itself in a 4-3 hole after the first seven and a half minutes.
McLean turned in a solid effort in the second stanza, and helped Cornell draw even by the intermission.
In the first half the riders had some troubles with chemistry. While individual performances were strong, the team was unable to piece its efforts together. Cornell continued to be plagued by the same woes it has had for most of the young campaign. Particularly in the first half, the Red rushed along the endwalls contributing to its problems finishing in front.
Entering the second half, the triumvirate turned things around. The club spread the field better, something head coach David Eldredge ’81 was concerned about entering the competition.
Goals in the third chukker by Bianchi and McLean gave Cornell its first lead of the evening.
The club put it all together in the final chukker. Strong individual effort began to translate into solid team effort. Antzcak scored once, and Bianchi and Taylor each put the ball past the white line twice.
When time had expired, the Red owned the advantage in a 12-9 match.
On Saturday evening, the men returned to action on the East Hill. With lowly Skidmore in town, Eldredge was able to start a trio of junior reserves: Ryan Rapp, Mike Jacobellis and Ian Calder-Piedmonte.
The men turned in a solid effort en route to a 16-8 dismantling of the Thoroughbreds.
Cornell drew first blood on a nice back-hand shoot by Rapp. After Skidmore’s Erik Dane evened the score, Calder-Piedmonte broke in and turned in a lamp-lighter of his own to put the Red ahead by a 3-2 count.
The riders expanded their lead after Jacobellis drew a riding into the stroke penalty. On the ensuing penalty shot, he rode hard toward the goal, and Rapp finished his efforts putting the ball over the line.
The duo had another opportunity with just under three minutes remaining the first chukker. Calder-Piedmonte connected with Jacobellis on a well-placed lead pass, but Jacobellis was unable to bring the sequence to fruition.
Skidmore performed admirably in the second chukker. A four-goal effort resulted in a tied score at halftime.
Jacobellis scored the Red’s lone team goal of the second chukker. He controlled the ball down the right slot and cut into the center and hammered a hard shot, scoring the fifth Cornell goal.
In between, the Red scored off a Skidmore pony goal (own goal) after the mounts had bunched in front of the goal. Amidst the confusion, the ball deflected off a Skidmore horse, and crossed the white line. It was the first of three such pony goals the Red would benefit from.
Junior Kevin Tang entered the third chukker in place of Calder-Piedmonte and provided an instant spark to the Red’s offense. After Chris Fagan was whistled for crossing, Tang began his solid performance with a hard, well-directed No. 4 penalty shot that just deflected off a Skidmore horse. Minutes later though he would not be stopped as he converted off a No. 3 penalty shot, to score his first of four goals. He would add two more scores in the chukker.
Jacobellis lit the lamp twice more in the opening stanza of the second half and Rapp, who joined Tang as the game’s leading scorers, had another goal of a nice backhand shot. When time had expired in the chukker, the Red was in front by 12-6 margin.
Rapp continued his strong effort in the final chukker. He tallied a pair of goals, before Tang and Calder-Piedmonte applied the proverbial nail in the casket.
Tang attributed the strong second half play to improved communication on the field.
“The team got good shoots and talked a lot. We were really poised,” he said.
The second half may have provided just the dose of momentum the club needs as it prepares to face some highly touted programs latter on this week in the Bill Fields tournament.
“[Tonight] was a good experience