The men’s and women’s polo teams face their real first challenge this weekend against Virginia. UVA is ranked first in the nation in men’s polo and second in women’s.
Both teams have had a successful start. The women riders (5-0) easily defeated Skidmore, 16-6, at Oxley Equestrian Center in a showcase for the team’s new talent. The starters had a day of rest as head coach David Eldredge ’81 used the match to give some of the younger team some playing time. The men (4-0) crushed the Thoroughbreds, 36-6, at Skidmore.
This weekend will be the first real test and display of Cornell’s highly successful teams. The women are looking for their fourth consecutive national title under the reins of senior Taylor McLean, already with three titles. A win against UVA would give the team a great deal of confidence for the season.
“I expect we will be able to win,” said Eldredge. “It’s not going to be easy, but it will be a real test and I know that they are really looking forward to it.”
Riding for the women will be McLean, Molly Buck and Harriet Antczak. The trio is ranked in the nation and a defeat against rival UVA will help it plow its way through the season.
“They’ve stepped up to every challenge and just die for the challenges, and I think we can prevail,” said Eldredge.
Eldredge pointed out that while a loss for the women would be a surprise, nothing is impossible on “any given weekend.” UVA has a much larger field, which will require some adjustment for both teams, but Eldredge did not foresee any major difficulties.
The men face a slightly tougher challenge against the national favorites. While the men stand ranked second in the nation, a win against their rivals would be a true achievement.
“I am very honestly up in the air,” said Eldredge. “We’re going to go down there, and it’s going to be very difficult to come out with the win, but I won’t rule it out.”
The men’s team will feature senior Darren James and juniors Jeff Markle and Senter Johnson. Cornell’s fourth starter, Jacob Leclair, will be away for the game. The men are currently ranked second behind UVA as Colorado State suffered a slight setback from losing one of its players for the regular season. The men look to defend their undefeated season, but the odds are against them this evening.
“Because we are quite talented, and have been a surprise team all year, it’s definitely a possibility,” said Eldredge. “It will be an excellent game and will show us what we have to do for the Field Tournament.”
Next weekend’s Field Tournament will bring some of the nation’s top teams together in a true test of talent. While the games do not officially count for the season record, the matchups will be a healthy preview for the rest of the season. The Field Tournament will be held at the Oxley Center Nov. 22 and 23.
Archived article by Josh Dormont