There are exactly 30 minutes in a polo match, and this weekend the men’s team found out every one of them counts, especially when playing the University of Virginia.
With 32 seconds left in the match, UVA appeared to have the game locked up as senior Senter Johnson missed a 15-yard, number two penalty that would have tied the game for the Red.
Yet Cornell refused to give up, and with seven seconds remaining in the game Johnson redeemed himself tying the game at 17 with another penalty shot.
“I told them going into the fourth Chukker ‘It ain’t over till the last bell rings. Remember what happened with Gardnertown,'” recalled head coach David Eldredge ’81. “They didn’t give up. They played right down to the end.”
With the scored tied at 17, the game went into a shootout. Virginia’s number one went first, missing his 25 yard penalty shot. Johnson followed, converting his shoot to put the Red up 18-17. However UVA’s number two answered, knotting the game at 18 apiece. Senior Jeff Markle, barely able to grip his mallet due to an earlier hand injury, wound up for the shot. He connected, giving Cornell the Victory 19-18.
“It was a fantastic game, a real crowd pleaser,” said Eldredge.
UVA brought a revitalized team to the Oxley Equestrian Center match, returning two key players from its 2003 national championship team.
“They came in and they were a totally different team then they were in the Fall,” said Eldredge.
The Red jumped out to an early three-goal lead in the first chukker. However, UVA came storming back to tie game 5-5 at the end of the chukker. Carrying their momentum into the second chukker, the Cavaliers took a 10-9 lead into the half.
Things began to look grim for Cornell in the third chukker as UVA extended its lead to 13-10. To make matters worse for the Red, Markle was struck on his right hand by a stray mallet. Barely able to hold his mallet, Markle stayed in the game.
The decision to keep Markle in the game proved quite influential. Besides hitting the winning shot, Markle fed Johnson for an easy goal, just 10 seconds into the fourth chukker.
If opponents of the Cornell women’s polo team have learned one thing all year, it’s that you can’t stop the Red riders — you can only hope to contain them. UVA found that out last weekend in 21-9 loss to the Red at the Oxley Equestrian Center.
The game got off to a slow start as the women were coming off of a two week interval between games, and Cornell was tied 3-3 with UVA after the first chukker.
“We were rushing in a little bit and we weren’t staying quite as spread out in the first chukker and that was having an effect on how were able to make plays” said Eldredge. “Plus the Virginia squad was hustling very hard and getting to our mallet side a lot quicker then we expected.”
However, after a few minor adjustments Cornell came out and dominated the second chukker, taking a 10-3 lead into the half. The Red continued to pull away from UVA going up 20-5 in the third chukker. With the game in hand, Cornell cruised through the fourth finishing up with a 21-9 win.
Cornell’s early lead allowed Eldredge to give his alternate, junior Lindsay Scheer, valuable playing time. Scheer, who played the entire second half, impressed Eldredge with the continued progress she’s shown throughout the season.
“It was good win,” said Eldredge. “The girls hadn’t played in a couple of weeks. It was really their first true test in this semester and they performed right up to speed.”
Archived article by Paul Testa