Coming into the 2003-04 season, polo coach David Eldredge ’81 had little idea how his men’s team would cope with the addition of junior Nick Grew to its starting three. After, two weeks of play, however, those concerns are now at rest.
Grew, who had little experience at the top level of competition heading into this year, helped Cornell run its record to 2-0 Friday night with a 11-9 victory at the University of Virginia.
Seniors Jeff Markle and Senter Johnson, Cornell’s duo of nationally-acclaimed players, rounded out the starting three for the Red that overcame a very talented team sported by the Cavaliers.
“They played quite well,” commented Eldredge. “They had no big problems.”
The win also reveals a lot about where Cornell stands among the best teams in the country. As a perennial powerhouse and two-time defending national champion, UVA was a formidable opponent for the Red.
With this victory, however, Cornell’s prospects for repeating last year’s success, when it fell just one goal short of being national champion, seems well within reach.
Describing his excitement over the prowess his team has shown off in its first few games, Eldredge said, “We are way above the expectations I had at this point.”
Further, the victory over UVA is only sweeter for the Red, as it usually struggles when playing the Cavaliers in the larger than typical arena at the Virginal Polo Center.
Cornell returned home on Saturday night and continued its winning ways with an 18-15 win in an exhibition game over the Teabrook Polo Club, a non-collegiate team from Buffalo.
Eldredge used the opportunity of exhibition play to get his first substitute, freshman Stan Feldman some valuable playing time. Though Feldman’s chances of cracking the starting lineup this year are improbable, this experience will prove to be very important in case the team needs him later in the season.
“It was a little overwhelming for him,” described Eldredge about Feldman’s three chukkers of playing time. “It was important to get him improving.”
Johnson led all scorers in the UVA game, while Markle took those honors against Teabrook.
Meanwhile, the women’s polo team (2-0) dominated the Cavaliers Friday night, winning in impressive fashion, 16-7
Again, there were concerns about how the team would respond while playing in such a large arena. However, those worries were silenced immediately, as Cornell controlled the game from the start.
“They played like I expected them to play,” commented Eldredge. “They got the lead right at the beginning and built it throughout the rest of the game.”
Senior Molly Buck began the game red hot, scoring five times in the first chukker, as the Red grabbed a lead it would never relinquish. From there, senior Marisa Bianchi took over and controlled the play the rest of the way.
“Molly came out and dominated in the first chukker,” said Eldredge. “Also, Bianchi rounded into the form of player she is. I am very happy, very pleased with [the team’s] play.”
The dominating play of starters Buck, Bianchi and senior Harriet Antczak in the first couple of games has also impressed teammates.
“I’m in awe of them,” said freshman substitute Ariel Katz. “It is so much fun to play with those three.”
Next week, the men’s team will have another full weekend, as it plays Purdue at home Saturday before traveling with the women’s team to Connecticut for a pair of games on Sunday.
Archived article by Scott Reich