Starting today, one won’t have to look far to find the best polo in the nation, as the country’s top collegiate polo teams come to town for the Bill Field Invitational. The annual event hosted by Cornell at the Oxley Equestrian Center draws perennial powers like Virginia, Connecticut, and Colorado State. Competing against these top teams should serve as strong indicator of the Red’s national standing.
Cornell has traditionally dominated the Field Tournament, yet the men’s and women’s teams enter the competition from differing directions.
The women’s team has had a stellar season, winning its last five games, not mention the last five Field tournaments. Head coach David Eldredge ’81 is extremely pleased with the level at which the team is playing.
“We’re feeling really confidant on the women’s side” he commented. “They’ve been playing so well as of recent and I just envision that to continue.”
The women will play their first match at 5:45 p.m. tomorrow against a Skidmore team they beat, 17-9m earlier this year. Eldredge expects a tougher match against Colorado State in the Red’s second game at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The last two years, Cornell has defeated CSU in the finals of both the Field Tournament and the national championship, and CSU comes to the Tournament this year having graduated several key starters.
While Eldredge expects his women to win their bracket, who they’ll face in the finals is uncertain. Both Virginia and Connecticut could advance out of the second bracket, which also includes Yale.
“On the women’s side that’s a real coin-flip” remarked Eldredge on the UVA-UConn match-up. “That’s going to be a fun game to watch.”
The outlook is somewhat different on the men’s side coming into the tournament. Recently the men’s team has been hampered by illness, which kept key senior playmaker Senter Johnson from playing at Skidmore last week. After suffering its first loss of the season two weeks ago against UConn, the Red will look to get back on track in its opening game today at 7:45 p.m. against Yale.
Despite recent setbacks, Eldredge is confident that his team is moving in the right direction. With his starting lineup of Johnson, Markle and Grew, all healthy, Eldredge expects no trouble in the opening round against Yale.
“The Yale squad from what I’ve heard is not a very strong squad and we should win that one rather easily,” commented Eldredge. “Hopefully that’s going to give [our team] a chance to find their bearings and get things rolling down the right road before we have to play anybody of any real strength.”
The men will play their second game on Friday at 7:45 p.m. against the Valley Forge Military Academy. Although the VFMA could pose some challenges for the Red, Eldredge expects a victory.
Should the men advance out of their bracket they would face the winner of the second bracket, consisting of Purdue, Virginia, and Connecticut.
“To be quite honest, I’d like to go up against UConn in the finals,” said Eldredge, eager for the opportunity to avenge the men’s one loss of the season.
Play begins today at 12:30 p.m. with an afternoon match between the women’s teams of CSU and Skidmore. The tournament continues through the weekend with the women’s final held at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday and the men’s final following at 12:00 p.m.