Harriet Antczak scored the tie-breaking goal with five seconds remaining in the game to lift the women’s polo team over the men’s polo team Saturday night by a score of 20-19. This exhibition match, made possible by the men riders’ forfeit victory over the Skidmore Thoroughbreds, matched the two-time defending national champion women’s team against a rebuilding but immensely talented men’s team. Though no one made any bold predictions before the game, senior Javier Alcover did comment that “It should be an interesting game to watch.”
Head coach of both squads Dave Eldredge ’81 refereed the match. Eldredge justified his actions by noting the obvious. “I think I can be unbiased.”
Only 15 seconds into the first chukker, Alcover scored the game’s first goal, giving the men an early 1-0 lead. However, this would not last, as senior Liz Antczak responded for the women at the 4:54 mark to even up the score. Only 13 seconds later, senior Melissa Riggs scored to put the women’s team ahead 2-1.
The lead would alternate back and forth until the first chukker came to a close, with the women grasping a 7-5 advantage. Junior Taylor McLean led the way for the women with four of the seven goals, including a superb 2-point shot from beyond the center line.
The second chukker began with an offensive explosion by the women riders, as Riggs scored three consecutive goals in the first 2:30 to extend their lead to 10-5.
Late in the chukker, however, the men scored seven unanswered goals, including four from sophomore Senter Johnson to put the men up by a score of 12-10 at the half.
“We finally got our throw-ins going,” Johnson remarked, whose four goals were pivotal to the men’s comeback.
“The boys started to play really well as a team,” Riggs commented.
In the second half, three new players came out for both sides. However, the reserves were as evenly matched as the starters, and the score at the end of three was knotted at 15 apiece.
With the women leading 18-17 in the fourth and final chukker, the excitement began to mount. Six players raced back and forth across the arena as both teams missed numerous scoring chances. Then, junior Marisa Bianchi lit the lamp for the women to extend their lead to 19-17 with just over one minute remaining in the game.
On the ensuing play, a number one penalty was called on the women at the men’s end of the arena resulting in an automatic goal, plus a throw-in. This brought the men riders to within one. Seconds later, senior Ian Calder-Piedmonte scored for the men to tie the game at 19.
“I knew [Calder-Piedmonte] was going to be the one who would carry the men’s team in the second half,” said Eldredge, “He’s come a long way for me.”
After many missed opportunities by the men, including a shot by senior Mike Jacobellis that missed the goal by inches, the women took control of the ball with only seconds to play. At the buzzer, Harriet Antczak, the star of Friday’s game against Skidmore, scored her fourth goal of the game to give the women the victory.
Despite the loss, the game served as an important measuring stick for the men’s team, whose starters bested the women’s 12-10 in the first half.
“If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if the men could beat the women, I would have said no,” said Eldredge.
The women’s performance in the second half demonstrated just how deep and talented they are. “It goes to show how well that women’s team could probably do at the men’s nationals,” he remarked, adding, “Either way I would have been happy, I am in a no-lose situation.”
Archived article by Matt Nassr