Few teams have dominated their sports like the women’s polo team, which won its fifth consecutive title Saturday, defeating Virginia, 18-7. While the list of superlatives used to praise the women’s polo program is long and varied, it may be time to add the word dynasty to the top of that list. The national title is the 11th in program history, and was the fitting end to a season in which the Red was undefeated against collegiate opponents.
“I can’t be happier than I am with them,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “They went out and they dominated.”
Cornell jumped out to an early seven-goal lead before Virginia even got a point on the board. However, U. Va. fought back in the second, capitalizing on several Red penalties to bring the game to within four goals at halftime.
With a comfortable four goal lead, Cornell could have probably sat back, played defensively and ridden out the rest of the game. Instead, the Red riders came roaring out in the second half and blew the Cavaliers out of the water building a nine-goal lead in the third chukker.
“We just took the wind right out of their sails,” Eldredge said. “They were just not looking to play after that, and we cruised right in to the 11-goal victory.”
Leading the way for the Red was senior Marisa Bianchi, who in capturing her fourth national title with Cornell led the team with nine goals, and, along with classmate Molly Buck, earned All-East and All-America honors on the season.
Fellow senior Harriet Antczak was second in scoring for the Red with six goals, and was praised by Eldredge for making smart, selfless decisions for the team all week.
“It just shows the maturity and the whole aspect that these guys are a team through and through,” Eldredge said. “They knew they depended on each other and they knew what was best for the team to win.”
The men’s polo team came up just short of a national championship, falling, 21-19, to Virginia. It was a tough loss for the Red who had beaten Virginia in its three previous meetings this year. “I was very happy with the way the guys played,” Eldredge said. “We just didn’t get the bounce of the ball, and they got a couple of good bounces and that’s what made the difference.”
Cornell fell behind early in the game, down 5-3 after the first chukker, but battled back to take and 11-9 lead into the half. Virginia came right back after the half, taking a 16-14 lead after three chukkers. The Red again tied the game at 19 with one minute left to play, but couldn’t quite hold off a late Virginia surge, finally succumbing, 21-19.
Although disappointed by the loss, Eldredge felt the Red played a strong game, and pointed to a surprising performance from Virginia’s Frank Ryan as the difference-maker in the game.
“They got a great performance out of an unexpected source,” Eldredge said. “Somebody was going to have to do something special to tip the balance and Frank just had it yesterday.”
Senior Senter Johnson had nine goals on the day, while classmate Jeff Markle scored five. Both Johnson and Markle were named All-America selections.
“The guys were very bummed,” Eldredge said. “But to get to the national finals is not a bad season, and to come within a minute of actually being able to win it — that’s pretty good and I’ve got to be happy with that.”
Archived article by Paul Testa