It was tale of two halves for the men’s polo team as they defeated an outgunned Purdue squad, 26-6, last Saturday night at the Oxley Equestrian Center.
The first half was characterized by congested play as the two teams often ended bunched up along the sides scrapping for possession. Frequent penalties, especially on the Purdue side, disrupted the rhythm of the game. Although senior Senter Johnson was able to convert on many of the penalty opportunities, scoring was limited in the first two chukkers to 12-4 in favor of the Red.
“The first half was ugly. It was effective but it was ugly,” remarked head coach David Eldredge ’81. “We kind of fell into playing their type of game — our guys got caught up in the handling and the stick-work, rather than spreading it out and passing the ball and hitting it to one another.”
Senior Jeff Markle agreed with Eldredge’s assessment of the first half, which Markle felt was not characteristic of the type of polo the Red normally want to play.
“The first half we got caught up a little bit in trying to control it too much and when that happens you give [Purdue] a chance. It all gets bunched up and the play doesn’t get moving.”
At a crossroads in the second half, Coach Eldredge was faced with a difficult decision. His team was not playing as well as he had hoped. Yet they were up by eight goals, and Eldredge wanted to find playing time for freshman alternate Stan Feldman. He made the call bringing in Feldman, and telling his riders to play more as team by opening up the field, and moving the ball around more. The change was remarkable.
Where the first half was characterized by penalties and disjointed play, the second half saw the Red spread the field and dominate.
“Jeff and I sort of settled back and played a lot smarter,” commented Johnson. “We really got our game going in the second half, and played more like a team”
Markle agreed saying “In the second half the biggest difference was we were able to open up and utilize one another, hit to each other and spread it out, and for us spreading it out and hitting away especially against a team like that is everything.”
The second half was also a notably cleaner game, with far fewer fouls.
“There were less fouls in the second half because it was open, and playing and running more,” said Eldredge, “and that’s just a whole lot nicer game to watch and to play in.”
Among some of the second half highlights were two goals, scored by freshman Stan Feldman, the first of his collegiate career.
“It was just kind of sitting there, and I reached out and that was it,” recalled Feldman. “It was pretty nice.”
Also notable were Johnson’s 15 goals, including one in the fourth chukker, good for two points because it was scored, untouched, from behind midfield.
“That’s always nice to get, although your never really trying to — or you shouldn’t be,” commented Johnson.
Men’s polo will be in action again next Sunday as they travel to the University of Connecticut for a rematch of its season opener which the Red won 20-6.
The women matched the men’s offensive output in defeating Connecticut, 26-13, last Sunday at 1 pm in Connecticut. The last time the two teams met on Oct. 17, the Huskies surprised the Red by coming out aggressively, and limiting the final score to 13-7 in the Red’s eventual victory.
Cornell, eager to prove itself the superior team in the game, came out playing much better than in its first matchup of UConn.
“They had a little bit to prove to themselves” said Eldredge. “They were much sharper.”
The Red led 5-3 after the first chukker, and repeated that performance in the second to lead 10-6 in the half. Cornell then preceded to lay waste to any doubts about the outcome of the game as senior Marisa Bianchi scored eight goals and classmate Molly Buck added two, putting the Red up 20-7 at the end of the third chukker.
“The horses ended up more in their favor in that chukker ,” commented Eldredge on the 3rd chukker. “Once and while it will happen that we might be a better suited to the horses then they are in a particular chukker… and we definitely capitalized on that.”
The Red finished with six goals in the fourth chukker.
The lady riders will travel to Saratoga Springs next Friday at 8:15 p.m. to face off against the Skidmore Thoroughbreds.
Archived article by Paul Testa