An aura of quiet confidence looms over Cornell’s polo teams. With one game left in the fall season, both squads will head into the spring season knowing that their lineups will soon be bolstered by All-American players who are taking the fall season off in order to retain their eligibility.
The additions will invariably propel both teams to the forefront of the collegiate polo community. Therefore, in the grand scheme of the championship race, the outcome of this weekend’s William S. Field Invitational Polo Classic bore little significance.
After a disheartening loss to Yale, 16-13, last Wednesday night in the first round robin match of the tournament, the men’s team was resolved to enter Friday’s match against Virginia with a renewed commitment to the fundamentals. Though the outcome was similar to the Yale match, the Virginia game on Friday was played with far more passion. The men’s team hung tight with the eventual tournament champion through three chukkers, before Virginia’s experienced squad pulled away for the victory.
“Our team picked itself up from a bad night against Yale, came back against Virginia, and gave them their toughest game in the tournament,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “It really speaks volumes right now that the men’s team feels it can beat UVA. Once we add two top players in the spring, it’s just a bonus.”
The tournament’s championship game on Sunday saw Virginia blow out Connecticut, 26-12, in a match that was over after the first chukker.
The women’s polo team entered the invitational tournament having won it the past six years. They demonstrated its retained form in its first round match against Yale on Thursday, handily defeating the Elis. Though the women fell short against Virginia on Friday night, thus precluding them from the championship match, their coach had nothing but laudatory remarks for the growth and improvement exemplified throughout the tournament.
“Harriet [Antczak] deserves high marks and praise for taking a young team and leading them to the level they’re at this semester. Lindsey [Scheer] has been doing the little things to demonstrate her continued improvement,” Eldredge said.
In the women’s final played on Sunday, Connecticut outscored Virginia, 15-2, in the final two chukkers in a 24-7 dismantling of last year’s national runner-up.
While the outcome may seem trivial, the tournament was invaluable on many levels to both of Cornell’s polo teams. Because of traveling restrictions, polo teams often do not get the opportunity to play schools that are outside of their region.
“It’s nice having teams like Texas A&M come up. Usually, we don’t get to see them until nationals, so it provides us with an opportunity to look at the different competition,” said assistant coach Marisa Bianchi ’04.
“The outcome of the tournament is not really significant at this point in the season. We get to see what other schools have and they don’t get to see the real Cornell. It should be worrisome from their standpoint because our teams played well, gained key experience, and now know what the other teams are bringing to the table,” Eldredge said.
Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Staff Writer