For the past two weekends, polo coach David Eldredge ’81 has been a little cautious when it came to predicting victory for his men’s team (3-0). But after posting impressive 20-6 and 11-9 victories, respectively, against Connecticut and Virginia, he is brimming with confidence heading into tomorrow’s 8:15 game at home against Purdue.
“I am very confident of a victory,” predicted Eldredge. “It should be a hard-fought game but they have nobody with the same level of talent as we’ve got.”
Though Purdue has been competitive in the past against the Red, Cornell has had no major problems getting past the Boilermakers unscathed. This should especially be true this year judging from the impeccable play the squad has already displayed in its first few games.
“We’re way ahead of where I thought we’d be,” said Eldredge. “We’re right in the thick of things among the top teams in the nation.”
One of the key’s to Cornell’s success has been the surprising play of junior Nick Grew, who had little experience at the top level of play coming into this season. Grew’s fast start has helped the Red appear to be one of the national title contenders in the spring.
While Grew continues to improve, his play will only better compliment that of Cornell’s two potential All-Americans, seniors Jeff Markle and Senter Johnson. From the first few games, it appears that these two experienced players have pushed each other to success. In fact, as Eldredge describes, Markle has been the key to Johnson’s play.
“When Jeff does well, Senter can shine. [Markle] started to click last weekend and I expect another one from him this weekend.”
In preparation for the Purdue game, Eldredge has had his team work on improving its flow, specifically focusing on positioning during game play.
“We’re trying to get all on the same page,” commented Eldredge. “We could get a lot smoother and we still have problem getting into the proper position.”
As the men battle the Boilermakers, the women’s team (2-1), meanwhile, will have a rematch at Connecticut Sunday. The Red knocked off the Huskies, 13-7, at home earlier in the season.
Connecticut held even with Cornell throughout the first half of the game the two played two weeks ago. However, the Red took control late in the game, extending its one-goal advantage at the half into the six-goal win.
Eldredge expects another tough game from the Huskies, but predicted that his team should win by the same margin.
“Connecticut is an aggressive and scrappy team,” commented Eldredge. “It should be tough for us again.
Also, the coach showed concerns over the home field advantage the Huskies will enjoy. However, after last week’s 16-7 romp at Virginia, the team appears to have no problem in playing in someone else’s arena.
“We went into UVA and handled them without a problem,” said Eldredge.
Though not at the same level as last year’s team was at this point, according to Eldredge, as defending national champions, the Red is still the team to beat.
“No one can stay with us when we’re clicking on all cylinders,” said Eldredge. “We’re still improving and can get to the same level that last year’s team was at.”
The women have been working on minor, individual skills at practice. Meanwhile, the overall play of the team is coming together.
Eldredge commented that the team is, “starting to gel very well. I am very happy about where we are.”
This improvement has been apparent in the past two games as Cornell won both by over five goals. In last week’s game against UVA, the team took command right at the beginning and never relented, much to the credit of junior Molly Buck.
“Molly really exploded last weekend,” explained Eldredge. “Her play was absolutely marvelous.”
Eldredge also declared that their recent success is no surprise to him.
“They’re pros at this and they know what they need to do.”
After the Connecticut game Sunday, the women will next play at Skidmore a week from today.
The men’s team will be back in action against Connecticut next Sunday, with an eye on the Cornell-hosted Bill Field Invitational Nov. 19-23.
“Some of the top teams in the nation will be there,” explained Eldredge. “That will tell a lot … about where we sit in the nation.”
Archived article by Scott Reich