April 5, 2002

W. Polo Eyes National Title

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Colorado State is all that stands between the women’s polo team and a third straight national championship. In the Collegiate Polo National semifinal yesterday, the Red easily defeated host Texas A&M 19-6 to advance to the title game for the third straight year. When the riders leave the field at Brushy Creek in Ft. Worth, Texas tomorrow, they expect to be champions for the third straight year, and tenth time overall. Cornell overcame adversity yesterday as senior All-East selection Melissa Riggs removed herself from the game after just one chukker due to illness.

With the match tied at two, sophomore Marisa Bianchi joined junior All-East selection Taylor McLean and senior Liz Antczak going into the second chukker.

McLean, in her first game since sustaining a back injury in the Regional final last month, scored four points, including the first two-pointer of the tournament as the Red shut out the Aggies 6-0.

“Melissa didn’t hesitate when she came out,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81, “she was willing to step aside and let [her teammates] play. That says a lot about her and the team.”

In the third chukker, McLean scored another four goals to reach her game-high mark of nine and Bianchi added a two-pointer of her own as Cornell extended its lead to 15-4.

At that point, a tired McLean left the game.

“Her back was beginning to get a little sore,” explained Eldredge, “so Melissa went back in and was able to cruise through the fourth.”

Cornell outscored the Aggies 4-2 in the final chukker to seal the deal.

In Colorado State, the riders will face an opponent they’ve already seen a little bit of this year. In the final of the Bill Field Invitational in November, Cornell ousted the Rams 18-6. As in that match earlier in the year, Colorado State will likely try to slow the pace of the game to throw Cornell out of rhythm.

“[Slowing down] already worked against UVa [whom CSU upset in the semifinals yesterday],” said Eldredge, “so we need to prevent that.”

It is expected that McLean will be ready to play. Riggs intends on joining her.

“I’ll be in there the whole game Saturday,” she declared.

On Monday, the men’s polo team fell to Colorado State 16-15 in the tournament’s preliminary match. Sophomore All-East selection Senter Johnson led the charge for the Red, who lost when Colorado State scored with 17 seconds remaining in the game to break a 16-all tie. “It was quite a game,” Eldredge said. “The experience was absolutely marvelous for [Johnson and classmate Jeff] Markle.”

In the semifinal, Colorado State fell to Eastern Region champ Virginia 20-11, the same score that the Cavaliers defeated Cornell by in the Eastern Region final. Virginia will play Texas A&M for the national title on Saturday.

Archived article by Owen Bochner