At this point in the men’s polo season, head coach David Eldredge ’81 must be thrilled by his team’s performance. For a team returning no starters from last year and only boasting one returning alternate, the squad’s 4-2 overall record thus far has been a surprise to Eldredge.
“Our weakness is our inexperience,” Eldredge said. “If you told me where we’d be right now before the season started, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m very proud of my team’s performance, and we’re only going to get better.”
A big story about this team so far has been the emergence of freshman Brian Fairclough, who has only played indoors for a few months. Fairclough has proved an offensive menace by creating his own shots and scoring goals offensively.
“Fairclough will be an absolute superstar in this sport soon,” said Eldredge. “Once he truly learns the indoor game, he will be unstoppable.”
An important strength that Eldredge has noted is that the players are quick learners. The team’s play has been pretty consistent throughout the 2004 campaign; however, quick repairs have followed the small mistakes.
“One of the biggest strengths for this team is that we adjust well to our mistakes,” Eldredge said. “Though we have shown inexperience at some points, which is to be expected, we are able to identify mistakes, adjust and make changes.”
The team has seven bona-fide varsity players — including Fairclough. The other returners are sophomores Stan Feldman, Dustin Dennis, Jesse Llop, and juniors John Price, Jared Ravich, and William Yang. Six freshmen; Jose Gonzalez, Brian Hughes, Neil Mittelman, Sean Niland, Trevor Sell, and Remington Sutton also join the team.
“We’ve had a back and forth of leadership during certain points between Brian [Fairclough] and Stan [Feldman],” Eldredge said. “Sometimes, Feldman tried to assert himself as a leader on the field, while Fairclough leads by example on the field. They do lean on each other very well and the team hasn’t had a situation come up yet where strong leadership outside of the coaching staff was necessary. I [have] faith that if it does, we’ll be prepared.”
The Red continues to grow with each match, win or lose, as it will learn to play as a more cohesive unit and continue the success of the program.
“In terms of expectations, my short term hopes are to be back in the national title game and be on top,” Eldredge said. “We have the talent and I really believe we can get there, and I think the guys do too.”
The men’s squad is looking forward to the return of three abroad players in the spring. “In the spring, the makeup will be totally different,” Eldredge said. “I can see us vying for the national championship then too.”
The men have won 10 national titles in the program’s history.
Archived article by Josh Fox
Sun Staff Writer