By March 10, 2006
In the final weekend before post-season play, Cornell’s polo teams will look to notch victories in critical matches before they begin pursuit of their respective Eastern Regional titles.
Tonight, the women’s team will welcome the Toronto Polo Club to the Oxley Equestrian Center tonight before traveling to play UConn in Storrs, Conn., on Sunday. Even though the UConn match will represent a likely preview of the regional final, the Red will focus first on Toronto, before turning their attention to the Huskies.
“[Toronto] brings a lot to the table,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “It will be an uphill battle that will prepare us for the Sunday match.”
In the second match, Cornell will look to finally tally a victory against UConn after suffering overwhelming defeats in two early season matches – the Huskies beat the Red, 24-6, on Oct. 21 and 23-8 on Nov. 19. This time, added difficulty will exist in the fact that the Red will be riding Connecticut’s horses.
“It will be tough because we haven’t ridden [their horses] recently; it is always hard to get on strange horses,” Eldredge said.
Nonetheless, the Red’s performance will be a strong indicator of things to come in Regionals, which will take place next weekend in Ithaca.
“If we can perform up [in Storrs],” Eldredge said. “It will say a lot about what can happen when we get them down here.”
In between the two women’s matches, the men’s team will take on Toronto’s male squad tomorrow night. This club team, like its female counterpart, is equivalent to an all-star team because it is comprised of some of the most talented players from the greater Toronto area.
“They are sending down a really experienced team,” said freshman Bobby Harvey. “They will be right at our level.”
The last time the Red played a club team – New England on Feb. 25 – it was dealt a 22-16 defeat. This time, however, the Red is building off last weekend’s 29-11 win over UConn.”Team morale is way up,” said Harvey. “Everyone is really happy with our team’s play.”
With Regionals, and even nationals, in sight, the Red needs to evaluate whether or not it can compete with the upper echelon teams in the country, including Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Virginia.
“It is only a matter of weeks until the nationals,” Eldredge said. “[Tomorrow] will be a barometer for what we can do when that time comes.”
Accordingly, Eldredge plans to play his starters – Harvey, junior Stan Feldman, and sophomore Brian Fairclough – for the entire match. Harvey, who has been easing back into play after a back injury, will finally play all four chukkers.
“I’m getting better,” Harvey said. “I will definitely be full strength by Regionals.”
Archived article by Patrick Blakemore Sun Staff Writer
By March 10, 2006
Think nothing exciting will be happening this weekend? Hold your horses! The women’s equestrian team will be competing in the pivotal Hartwick Invitational – the team’s seventh of eight horse shows this year. The second-place Red is champing at the bit to take on first-place Skidmore and the rest of the field tomorrow.
Head coach Chris Mitchell is enthusiastic about his team’s chances this weekend.
“This is a very important horse show, as we are 15 points behind reigning regional champion Skidmore,” he said. “We traditionally do well, but it’s a difficult horse show because the ring is smaller. It’s going to be a good horse show for us … the following one is at Skidmore and that will be a tough one,” he said. “If we can gain some ground on them this weekend, then we’ll have a good foundation to compete against Skidmore.”
Mitchell was confident that the 15-point deficit would not be too much to surmount with two shows remaining.
“We have 15 points [to make up], seven or eight points a show, we can do that,” he said. “Everyone has to step it up the way they’ve been doing all week.”
The coach also indicated that the results of this meet would have several implications for some of the individual riders.
“For [freshman] Dana Kendrick, [and seniors] Megan Gates and Trudi Gulick, it’s very important, as they are in the top-3 [of the standings for the] Cacchione Cup,” Mitchell said.
The Cacchione Cup is named for Mario Cacchione, the father of IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione. It is awarded to the top individual riders from each region.
Kendrick, currently in second place in the race to compete for the Cacchione Cup, echoed her coach’s enthusiasm.
“I am really excited because our team and coaches have worked really hard to get as far as we have,” she said. “We work really hard as a team and if we keep it up I think we can go all the way to nationals.”
Despite everything riding on this event, Mitchell appeared confident in his team for weekend’s upcoming competition.
“We can expect some great performances out of my two seniors who have been with me all four years [Gates and Mary Slocum],” he said. “My novice girls need to come in and just sweep the whole division, and they can.”
Mitchell also expressed confidence in one of the newest riders on the team, sophomore Jade Doyle.
“Jade is new to our team, so she’s new to competition, but she’s been stepping it up the past two weeks in practice and I think she’s going to be a very big help to this team down the stretch,” he said.
As for the Hartwick Invitational, Mitchell explained the importance of his team’s historical success in Oneonta, N.Y.
“This has always been a friendly place for us. We’ve always done well here and we need to do that again,” Mitchell said. “We need to keep history going.”
Archived article by David Sims Sun Staff Writer