April 9, 2004

Polo Teams Battle For National Titles

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With a pair of strong wins in the national semifinals yesterday, both the men’s and women’s polo teams have made it to the national championship for the second consecutive year.

However, Virginia will be trying to accomplish the same exact feat, as tomorrow’s title games will each feature Cornell against the Cavaliers. Action will begin at 1 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va. The women will open the day’s action before the men take to the rink for their title match.

“We’re feeling good about it,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “The women are very confident and, with the men, we’re definitely looking forward to it.”

Drawing the early game this afternoon against Connecticut, the women’s team was the first of the Cornell duo to clinch a spot in the final. Riding out to a 6-0 lead in the first chukker, the Red never looked back, as the team cruised to a 16-9 victory over the Huskies.

“We held strong after that first chukker and never relinquished the lead,” Eldredge said. “UConn played hard and were pretty scrappy but we showed why we are the favorites.”

Eldredge was especially impressed with the play of senior Harriet Antczak, who will be seeking her fourth straight national title tomorrow. At one point, Antczak even sacrificed her body to extend the Cornell lead, as she fell off her horse in the process of scoring.

Discussing that play, the coach described it as “the ultimate sacrifice … Harriet came up very big for us.”

Slightly bruised and sore from the tumble, Antczak will be all set to go for the championship after enjoying today’s day off.

The men’s team faced a more challenging match in its semifinal showdown with Connecticut. Falling behind early, the Red came from behind to tie the score at five at the end of the first chukker. Senior Senter Johnson had the opportunity to put Cornell ahead at the end of that period, but uncharacteristically missed a penalty shot.

Meanwhile, the Huskies continued their relentless play into the second chukker. Grabbing an early lead, Connecticut played strong before the Red was finally able to pull in front to take a 10-9 halftime lead.

“We weren’t playing that bad,” Eldredge said. “We just weren’t getting the bounces.” That changed in the second half, as Cornell came out red-hot, exploding for nine goals in the third chukker to take a 19-14 lead into the last frame. From there on, the Red never let Connecticut get any closer before closing out the 23-17 win.

Eldredge credits the Cornell success to the improved play of junior Nick Grew. Given the task of supporting the Red’s pair of senior All-Americans — Johnson and Jeff Markle — Grew had his second consecutive solid game in Charlottesville. The last time Cornell played there, against Virginia in late February, Eldredge said Grew played the best game of his career.

“He stepped up huge for us,” Eldredge said about Grew’s performance yesterday. “He really equaled that feat from a month ago. He owns that arena … If he plays like that [tomorrow] I feel very good about our chances.”

Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer