The best teams of collegiate polo have descended upon Ft. Worth, Tex. for the 2005 national championships. Both of Cornell’s squads are in attendance, as well as last year’s men’s champion and women’s runner-up, Virginia. Cornell’s women’s team is geared up for a run at their sixth consecutive title, while the men have their sights set on avenging a two-point loss in last year’s title game.
Action is set to begin for the men today at 9:00 a.m. central time against Texas A&M. The No. 1 women, who have a first round bye, will square off against the winner of the Cal-Davis and Texas A&M match on Thursday.
Throughout the season, the prevailing sentiment within the ranks of Cornell polo has been that in order for another school to win the national championship, it would have to go through the Red. That attitude is echoed in the current mentality of both the men and the women’s squads.
“Both teams feel real good and know that the title is theirs for the taking,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “They know that they don’t have to get lucky in order to win, but rather, teams will have to go out and beat them.”
Cornell boasts a pair of the deepest and most talented polo teams in the country. The men returned all three starters from last year’s team, two of which were all-Americans — seniors Jeff Markle and Senter Johnson. Additionally, the emergence of freshman Brian Fairclough has provided the Red with an offensive spark, as he has split time of late with senior Nick Grew.
The women are led by senior Molly Buck, who is widely regarded as the top player in collegiate women’s polo. Strengthening the Red’s lineup are seniors Harriet Antczak and Lindsey Scheer, both of whom played important roles on last year’s championship team.
With such proficient starters, both the men and the women’s teams seem poised to capture national titles.
Both squads are at full strength in terms of health and are carrying momentum from their recent success at the regional championships. In order to continue its run at the title, the teams must abide by the simple formula that enabled them to get this far.
“We know what our game plan is, now we need to just execute,” Eldredge said. “The team that maintains its focus will win.”
While both teams may have entered the tournament as the favorites, it is critical for both to take each game one at a time and not look too far ahead.
“The teams here are at an equal caliber,” Eldredge said. “We need to take each team seriously, because any one of them can knock us off.”
Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Staff Writer