It is usually teams like Connecticut and Virginia — large schools with highly successful men’s polo programs — that offer Cornell’s team the toughest challenge. However, this year that distinction has gone to the Gardnertown Polo Club, a non-collegiate team that keeps finding ways to defeat the highly-ranked Red in exhibition matches.
Taking advantage of many Cornell errors and misplays, the visiting Gardnertown beat the Red, 20-18, Saturday night for the second time this year.
“It was our own fault,” said head polo coach David Eldredge ’81. “We were just flat the entire night and gave the game to them.”
Early in the game, Cornell jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead, looking like a team deserving of the top ranking in the nation. Suddenly, though, the game’s momentum took a violent U-turn, as Gardnertown used a 5-0 run to end the first chukker with a 6-4 lead.
The Red cut the Gardnertown lead down to one by halftime, making the score 11-10. However, Cornell would never get any closer. Gardnertown maintained the one goal lead going into the fourth chukker before closing out the two goal victory.
“We were in the game the whole time. We would start runs but then just give it right back,” said Eldredge about his team’s inability to overtake their opponents.
A key to the Red’s loss was its inability to successfully execute the facets of the game that it usually dominates, includes thrown-ins, in which the Red was completely outperformed.
“Gardnertown should get a lot of credit,” Eldredge said. “They took what they could get.”
Although disappointed with his team’s play, Eldredge’s confidence in the Red’s ability remains fully intact.
“It just wasn’t our night. Every team has a bad game, we just hope that we got that out of our system now,” he said.
The Red will hope to move beyond the loss quickly, as it prepares for next weekend’s match against Virginia. As another top team in the nation, the Cavaliers will be one of Cornell’s toughest opponents in its run toward the national championship.
“If we can play well and beat Virginia next week, it will really strengthen our confidence,” said Eldredge.
However, this will be no easy task, as this UVA team will be much different than the one the Red defeated earlier in the season. The Cavaliers will benefit from the return of a top player who missed the entire fall semester.
“Its going to be a whole different team than before,” said Eldredge. “It will really tell us where we are at right now.”
Archived article by Scott Reich