The Red was on a furious comeback. With six tics left on the clock, senior Morgan O’Brien aimed and sent a penalty shot screeching towards the goal. The ball flew wide right, though, and just like that the Cornell women’s polo squad’s comeback was over and Skidmore had held on for a 9-8 victory last Friday. Tomorrow night, the Red will try and avenge this heartbreaker on its home turf.
Still trying to find their identity, the women have now dropped two straight since their season-opening win against UMass. However, according to senior Heidi Barreiro, Oxley Equestrian Center will truly feel like home, sweet home this weekend.
“Skidmore’s arena is like half the size of ours,” Barreiro said. “That means that the game is reduced to simply scrapping for the ball and bumping the hell out of each other. This slows the game down, and most of the game ends up being played at a trot. With a bigger field, though, we can open it up, spread it out, and use our hitting game, forcing Skidmore to do the same. I believe this is greatly to our advantage because Skidmore’s hitting game is pretty weak.”
Fellow senior Aisling Garcia agrees, saying the Red has spent the week in practice working on moving continuously through the play.
“We really have been focusing on not giving up on plays. Sometimes we have a habit of slowing down if we don’t make the play,” she said.
“We will occasionally let ourselves get stuck on top of the ball. [Head coach] Dave [Eldredge ’81] has been trying to get us to stay quick and fast through the whole play. Also, defensively, he has stressed taking the man out before he can get to the ball, something that will help us Saturday.”
Saturday’s matchup with Skidmore represents a true turning point in the season for the Red. After Skidmore, Cornell must take on both Yale and UConn next weekend. UConn, as the reigning national champion, will bring talent to the table – the same talent that led to its 24-6 victory over the Red two weeks ago. Right now, Garcia says the Red simply needs a confidence boost.
“Skidmore was always a team we could beat,” she said. “Losing to them last week was really a big blow. We are angry about last week’s loss and just want to take this advantage to figure out how to maximize the teamwork with the girls we have now.”
Meanwhile, the men’s team, also coming off a tough loss against UConn two weeks ago, looks to use tonight’s game against Skidmore as a stepping stone to its rematch with UConn next weekend.
In a game the Red felt it controlled save a poor start, Cornell fell short as UConn scored two long two-point shots as the last period wound down, breaking a 14-all tie for good. After a week off, the Red is still focused on avenging this loss, and is already looking past the Skidmore game.
“We just need to get ready for next weekend when we face UConn and Yale,” said junior Stan Feldman.
Depsite heeding the cliched advice to take it one game at a time, Feldman also emphasized that this game was important to work out a few things.
“Concentrating on keeping the flow fast is important for us. Thinking faster and communicating more will allow us to know where each other are on the field at all times,” he said. “This will help us keep the pace up and finish around the goal better. We just need to make sure that we get in a groove this weekend. Skidmore also gives us a chance to rotate in some other guys. There’s no reason for me, [sophomore] Brian [Fairclough], and [freshman] Bobby [Harvey] to play the whole game like last week. We’ll probably only play three chukkers each.”
Archived article by Cory Bennett