Men’s and women’s polo head coach David Eldredge ’81 was searching for answers.
He justed watched his team get blistered by a 9-1 margin in the second chukker of the men’s seminfinals at the National Championships. The opponent, Virginia was one the Red knew well. It had defeated the Cavaliers solidly on four occassions this season.
So with time running out in the intermission, the coach was looking for something to tell the squad. He looked to the rafters and found a source of motivation. Eyes fixxed on the 1992 national championship banner, he called to his senior captain Jeff Embow to gather the troops.
“When we hung that last banner,” a fiery coach began, “we were trailing by nine goals after the first chukker. Let’s do this,” he pleaded with his team.”
And for a brief moment it appeared the team had responded to his urging.
Disappointed by a lethargic showing, Eldredge opted for junior Javier Alcover to assume senior McClintic’s spot in hopes of improved chemistry.
Less than half-a-minute into the stanza Embowed lit the lamp, converting on a penalty shoot. Moments latter the visitors were tagged for impeding the right of way and after Embow’s attempt went wide to the right, senior Renato Pereira collected a rebound along the endwalls and put the ball over the white line. The score elicited a standing ovation from the vociferous Cornell contingency.
But that was as close as the riders would come for the rest of the match.
It took just a minute for Virginia to match the two goals, both of which resulted after defensive breakdowns in front of the goal, symptomatic of the homeside’s woes the entire night.
Cornell had jumped out the fast start, leading by a tally after the first seven and a half minutes. The Red notched the first three markers and was credited with five of the first six goals.
Execution was a thorn in the side of the Cornell’s offense all night. Embow lead the squad with 11 goals, including a valiant comeback five-goal effort in the final chukker, but the Cavaliers’ defense made him less potent than he had been most of the season.
Officiating that was about as consistent as spring-time weather in Ithaca didnt do much to help the Red’s cause. The U.S. Polo Association assigned the Mike Noeth’s of collegiate polo umpire’s to yesterday evening’s contest and the results had many onlookers wondering if they were watching the same game.
Stevie Orthwein recorded a stellar effort for the victors collecting twelve goals on the evening.
The Cavaliers meet Texas A & M in Saturday’s 3 p.m. title match. In the women’s bracket the Red riders are slated to face off with Virginia who earned the berth after topping Texas A & M in yesterday’s semifinal at 1 p.m. in the finals.
For the starting trio of seniors it was a disappointing way to end the season at best, but another unblemished season in collegiate play may make the loose easier to cope with.
Eldredge can take solace in having veteran Javier Alcover back for another season as he begins to rebuild with a large cast of talented freshman and reserves.
Archived article by Gary Schueller