Though many Cornell students are unaware, the women’s polo team is in the process of building one of the greatest current dynasties in collegiate athletics. Having won four consecutive national championships, the team appears primed for a run at number five after pushing its current record to 5-1 with a victory over Teabrook Club this past weekend.
In the past, Cornell’s championship teams have relied upon star players, including Melissa Riggs ’02 and Taylor McLean ’03, to ignite the Red to victory. However, with the graduation of McLean last year, the current team is taking on a whole different personality.
“Taylor and Melissa were powerhouses for us in the past,” explained head coach David Eldredge ’81. “This [current] team has a lot of talent. There is more of an even squad across the board.”
Already having shown off its ability against a strong fall schedule, Cornell features three solid, experienced players in its lineup: seniors Marisa Bianchi, Molly Buck and Harriet Antczak. In fact, Eldredge lists the experience of these players — all of whom have been part of Cornell championship teams in the past — as the team’s greatest asset.
“They know how to come from behind. They don’t get rattled … they don’t panic,” said Eldredge.
Although these girls have plenty of game experience among them, they had almost no experience playing together prior to this season.
Even with these victories under their hooves, the more impressive aspect for the riders has been maintaining their work ethic and attitude, explained Eldredge.
“The women are great. They set their goals and don’t stop working hard to achieve them. They want that fifth title and then they want six,” commented Eldredge about his players. “They take nobody for granted and they play every team hard.”
Unlike the women’s polo team, the men’s team (4-2) has no shortage of star players. Described as “two of the top players in the nation” by Eldredge, seniors Senter Johnson and Jeff Markle lead the Red, which finished just a goal shy of the national championship last season.
Joining these two in the starting lineup is relative newcomer junior Nick Grew, whose inexperience at playing in the top level was the team’s major question mark coming into the season. Already though, it appears that much of the team’s success will depend on his development throughout the season.
The high point of a so-far impressive fall season for the Red came in late October, when Cornell won at national title contender Virginia.
“We have the talent to go all the way this year,” claimed Eldredge. “Everybody knows that they’re going to have to beat us for the championship. Its ours to win, but its going to take a lot of work.”