Despite having two team members earn All-East and All-American honors, the women’s polo team wanted one more trophy to end its week at the National championships. On Saturday it did just that, beating Colorado State 19-15 in a penalty-heavy championship game.
“Penalties were a huge thing in this game,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “That was something that Marisa [Bianchi] said to me when she came off afterwards. Having that many goals off of penalty shots was really key to the victory.”
Cornell scored nine of its 19 points off of penalty shots, with all of the extra-opportunity goals coming from junior Marisa Bianchi. Overall, CSU committed 16 fouls and Cornell committed 18. The difference, however, came from the nature of the calls. While the Red’s penalties were all number four penalties, or offensive calls, CSU committed several defensive fouls.
Still, the game wasn’t easy for the women’s team, as Colorado got on the board early. The lady riders responded by reeling off three-straight goals, but CSU came back as the first chukker ended in a 4-4 tie. The Red opened things up a bit in the second, eventually earning six more points before the half.
Sophomore Molly Buck relieved junior Harriet Antczak for the third chukker, and Cornell soon exploded. By the end of the chukker, however, CSU had scored nearly the same amount.
“[The women] came out and got a couple of good bounces, got some real good play,” said Eldredge. “They rattled off five goals to open it up. We owned the first half of the chukker, they owned the second half.”
It didn’t matter, though. Cornell rode it’s first half lead to the eventual win.
“At that point, we were starting to feel pretty comfortable with where the lead was,” Eldredge said. “They got the last goal to make it 19-15, but by that point, the match was over, and it was an inconsequential.”
The win gave the women’s team its fourth-straight national title, and eleventh overall. The victory also put senior Taylor McLean into the record books. She is the only woman in Cornell history to win four straight national titles.
“She’s not flashy, she’s not that type of player, but there’s a fire that burns inside of her that just will not lose,” said Eldredge. “It’s a tremendous tribute to her, and she earned it. She earned the four championships.
“I remember in her freshman year when she said to me, ‘I want three more of these.’ I knew she meant it. I always knew it was a goal she had and that it was very attainable for her.”
“It’s an honor, definitely,” said McLean. ” When we first won the first one, David had said to me, ‘Three more,’ and that’s all I wanted, and I can’t believe it.”
The men’s team also competed, but was knocked out of title contention during the semifinal round. Despite being sick, junior Senter Johnson managed to lead the team with 10 goals.
“The men’s game was really kind of too bad. We really didn’t know how bad Senter was feeling when he went into the game,” said Eldredge. “He ended up, in the first half, having to leave during one of the timeouts to visit the facilities.”
Sophomore Jeff Markle and senior J.P. LeClair picked up the slack, however, combining for the team’s other eight points. Colorado State combined for one more, though, to take the game 19-18.
“It was just such an even match, and I really couldn’t fault the way the boys played at all,” Eldredge said. “Overall, their season was a great success, especially for [Johnson and Markle]. They’re coming back for two more years.”
Archived article by Matt Janiga