October 24, 2003

Polo Faces Big Challenge in Virginia

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Size matters, as polo coach David Eldredge ’81 will tell you, at least when it comes to polo arenas. The Red men’s and women’s teams will face stiff competition this weekend in their matches against perennial rival Virginia, held at the spacious confines of the Virginia Polo Center in Charlottesville, Va.

The women’s team will look to build off last weekend’s 13-7 win over Connecticut, as it takes on a younger, less-experienced UVA squad at 6 p.m. today.

The women, although dominating play against Connecticut, looked rusty at times, failing to convert on numerous scoring opportunities and entering into the second half with only a one goal lead.

“In overall play, they dominated things quite well,” commented Eldredge. “It’s just we couldn’t finish as well.”

They team settled down during halftime and came out with much more efficient play, converting more of their chances in front of the goal, building up a comfortable six-goal margin in the win.

Eldredge is confident in the women’s chances against UVA, which lost to UConn by several goals earlier in the season. However, the Red is not used to playing in an arena as large as Virginia’s and the field has given the Red considerable trouble in the past. Last year, the Cornell women tied UVA when playing at Virginia, despite beating the Cavaliers soundly at every other venue the Red faced them at.

“Virginia is always one of the most difficult places to go in and win at,” commented Eldredge. “Throughout the years we’ve struggled there.”

Eldredge sees senior Marissa Bianchi as one of the major components for the Red’s success tonight. Getting Bianchi involved early in the game and assuring that she adjusts to the travel will be key in the Red’s performance, said Eldredge.

“We’re hoping we can go down there and use our experience to come up with a win,” he said.

Eldredge is less certain in his expectations for the men, as they face off against Virginia at 8 p.m. tonight. Virginia comes into the season a two-time defending national champ, and soundly beat the Red the last time the two played in Charlottesville. The match should provide an insight as to where the Cornell men stand in respect to the top polo teams in the nation.

“This is going to be a real eye opener for me and for the guys,” Eldredge stated. “If we can do well, that would say a lot to me as to where we stand not only on the east coast, but also in the country because UVA is one of the perennial powers.”

Eldredge is cautiously optimistic about the men’s chances against Virginia, largely due to the team’s exceptional 20-6 performance against a talented UConn squad last weekend. Eldredge was especially pleased with the performance of junior Nick Grew, whose play complimented that of senior standouts Senter Johnson and Jeff Markle.

“I was absolutely impressed by the performance of Nick Grew,” commented Eldredge. “He performed at the level of where I thought he would be at the beginning of next semester, and he’s starting at that level at the beginning of this semester.”

Eldredge feels that one of the major keys to success for the men will be to get Johnson scoring early in the game.

“He seems to really draw the best out of the rest of the team,” said Eldredge. “If he doesn’t get started till midway through the game we could be in trouble.”

The men return to Ithaca after tonight’s match for a home game against a non-collegiate polo club from Buffalo tomorrow. The level of competition should provide Eldredge an opportunity to get some of his alternates, like Stan Feldman, playing time.

The men will also be in action next weekend, playing at home against Perdue on Saturday before heading to Connecticut on Sunday with the women’s team for a rematch of last weekend’s matches.

Archived article by Paul Testa