The Cornell women’s polo team is definitely not used to being the underdog heading into its matches. Having completed its regular season undefeated against collegiate opponents, the Red is now the favorite to win its fifth consecutive national title. However, prior to making their gallop towards the championship, the women will arguably assume just that role as they face their greatest challenge of the year, the Toronto Polo Club, tomorrow night at Oxley.
No matter how strong the Cornell team has been the past few years, Toronto has always been able to find its Achilles’ heel, becoming the only team to consistently beat the Red over the past few years.
“They are a pretty good force,” described head coach David Eldredge ’81 about his upcoming opponent. “It will be quite a challenge for the [Cornell] women.”
Coming off a back and forth game and a 13-12 victory against its chief rival at Virginia, the Red will be using the next couple of weeks to prepare for the upcoming national tournament.
Specifically, the women will first be focusing on maintaining their consistent high level of play that they have displayed throughout the season.
“We felt like we were in a flat zone. We didn’t want to peak to early,” Eldredge said about his team’s consistent play over the last several weeks. “There was no doubt in [his players’] heads that they were not going to win the past few games.”
Yet, with the tournament just two weeks away, the team will also now begin to concentrate on building up to its highest level of play.
“We’ve set this weekend up as the one when we start getting up that hill heading towards our peak,” Eldredge said. “We’re now trying to get up for nationals.”
Already, the coach has observed this change in his players, which makes him unconcerned about any prospect of a lull in their play before they make the title run.
“I’m not worried about a flat spot,” Eldredge commented. “At practice on Tuesday I could see a difference in attitude and the way they walk … they’re a little more intense and focused. They’ve got a little more life to their step.”
The men’s team will also face the Toronto club this evening. Though this game should not be as great a test for the Cornell men as the women will experience, the club team will still put up some good competition.
“It should be a challenge, but without the high tension that we had last week at Virginia,” Eldredge said . “I’m looking forward to it.”
Like the women, the men will also have the top seed heading into the national tournament and will use the next two games to perfect their play. Specifically, the team has been working on its communication and consistency.
“We’re focusing on getting Nick [Grew] totally into the fold and getting him more consistent with the way he played last game,” Eldredge said.
The coach also praised senior Senter Johnson for becoming more consistent throughout the season.
Johnson scored on each of his five penalty shot opportunities at Virginia last week.
“We’re trying to put together four good chukkers all at once and to continue to maintain that into nationals,” Eldredge concluded.
Archived article by Scott Reich