February 28, 2006

Virginia Beats W. Polo; Men's Side Falls to N.E.

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The men’s and women’s polo teams were forced to measure success outside the victory column this weekend, as both teams dropped difficult matches against talented opponents.

On Saturday, the men’s team lost 22-16 to a challenging New England team; meanwhile, the women fell 12-10 in their bid for back-to-back wins against Virginia on Friday night. Head coach Dave Eldredge ’81 was well aware of the challenges presented to his teams this weekend and, despite the absence of victories, he was impressed with the overall performance of both of his teams.

“The games sort of went as expected. We lost both, but that didn’t reflect the play of our teams,” Eldredge said.

With the Eastern Regional championships in sight, Eldredge continued to tweak the men’s lineup, as he tried to find the ideal composition of players to elevate his team’s play. The return of freshman Bobby Harvey to the lineup after a three-week absence was an integral part of determining the right combination.

“It is very difficult coming back after three weeks off, especially against such a tough team. We knew he was going to be rusty,” Eldredge said.

The rust showed early as Harvey was caught flat-footed a couple of times, leading to a quick 3-0 lead for New England. By the second chukker, however, as Harvey, sophomore Brian Fairclough, and senior Stan Feldman, became more comfortable with one another, the Red was able to climb its way back into the contest.

“We won the second chukker, which was good for me to see. The guys performed very well together. That was the highlight of the lineup experiment for me,” Eldredge said.

In the end, New England was too much for the Red, as Cornell was unable to produce enough offense to stay in the game. The game, notwithstanding the unfavorable outcome, was not a disappointment, as the men continued to the show the strong play that had won them their previous five matches.

“We are feeling really good going into next week. I am quite excited with the new lineup and I saw things [against New England] that create a much better scenario for us,” Eldredge said. “Everything is notching into place quite nicely and all the puzzle pieces are fitting together.”

The women’s team fell on Friday in a competitive back-and-forth battle against Virginia. Playing on Virginia’s home pitch, the Red came out strong early when junior Ariel Katz scored a two-point goal to start the game. From there on, it was a seesaw-type of game with Cornell even holding a lead early in the fourth chukker.

“We didn’t lose the game until the last minute. I couldn’t ask for much more from the girls, they played absolutely fantastic,” Eldredge said.

In a game characterized by some questionable officiating, the women’s team played a well-rounded game with all of the participating players making a strong impact.

“Our women weren’t looking to make any excuses. They played through all that was thrown at them,” Eldredge said.

Despite the loss, Cornell continued to demonstrate its ability to compete with any team in the country. Eldredge noted that team has taken tremendous strides in getting to a point where, no matter the opposition, they have a chance to win on any given night.

“This keeps us right on track. We now feel that we can compete with everybody. We thought we would be in that elite class, but now we know that we are,” Eldredge said. “This is a huge step forward. We have hit a plateau of confidence.”

Archived article by Patrick Blakemore
Sun Contributor