November 19, 2001

W. Polo Takes Crown at Bill Field

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In a match that was actually much closer than the 18-6 final score indicates, the women’s polo team defeated Colorado State University yesterday at the Oxley Equestrian Center to clinch its fourth straight title in the William S. Field ’51, MBA ’53 Invitational Polo Tournament. The Red (5-0) swept through the 11th installment of the tournament, defeating Yale and Skidmore en route to the title. This was Cornell’s sixth title in the Field Tournament.

The Red started slowly, building a relatively weak 5-3 lead through the first chukker. As the match progressed, Cornell got more into its game and stretched out play a little more.

“That’s the way we like to play, it’s how [polo] is meant to be played” said senior captain Melissa Riggs, who led all scorers with nine goals.

Junior Marisa Bianchi added three goals, including several clutch penalty shots in the fourth chukker out of the number one position, converting on two of her three chances. Her play more than made up for the play of junior Taylor McLean and Riggs, who did not play up to thier standards yesterday.

“I just can’t say enough about how happy I am about how well Marisa played,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81.

Throughout the year, Colorado State and the University of Virginia are expected to provide the greatest competition for the Red women, who are the winners of two straight national titles. CSU’s Erica Gancomcar looks forward to a rematch later in the season.

“At nationals, for sure, we’ll see them again,” she said.

Men’s Tournament

In the men’s final, the University of Virginia defeated Texas A&M, 19-16, in a tense matchup between national powerhouses. Powered by an excellent third chukker, in which the Cavilers outscored the Aggies seven to three, Virginia proved the tremendous closeness of the nation’s top teams. A&M’s All-American Craig Fraser led all scores with 11 goals. Steve Orthmein led UVa with eight.

The surprise of the tournament was the performance by a rebuilding Cornell men’s team Saturday night against Texas A&M.

“The first half was tough, but we really got our act together, came out in the second half and showed everybody in the building that we belong and we’re gonna be there at the end of the year,” said Eldredge of the men’s team’s performance.

Despite the 19-14 loss, the Red showed their mettle by matching up against last year’s national champion, despite fielding an young team this year. Sophomore Jeff Markle was the star for Cornell, scoring five goals and providing consistently strong play.

“Jeff is showing every bit of the promise that I have for him,” said Eldredge.

Perhaps the greatest compliment to the Cornell squad’s play was paid by A&M’s Fraser.

“[Craig] came up to me … later on and he said, ‘that’s a good little team you’ve got coming, David,'” said Eldredge.

Senior captain Javier Alcover recovered from early-game jitters to be a stable force behind the Red’s attack. “They were tough to stop, but we’ll get them,” he said.

Archived article by Owen Bochner