With nationals beginning on Monday, the polo teams have one last chance to fine-tune their play before they welcome the best teams in the country to Oxley Equestrian Center. Like at nationals, both teams will have the luxury of playing at home this weekend. Tonight the women will face Marlan Farms in hopes of continuing the strong play that earned them their wildcard berth into the tournament.
“The girls are feeling really good,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “We are beginning to earn a lot more respect from the other teams in nationals.”
As far as their records are concerned, the games are inconsequential for the Red, because both teams have already secured their spots in nationals. Still, the games will provide a chance to eliminate recurring mistakes and form cohesion within in the units.
“There is not a lot of stress for these games because they don’t count,” Eldredge said. “Basically, I am looking forward to them because they will help us sharpen up.”
The men will take on Maryland tomorrow night and welcome sophomore Brian Fairclough back into the lineup. Fairclough did not play at all in the regional tournament. Last weekend, Cornell beat UConn and Skidmore to win the region and lock up its berth.
“We need for Brian to get back into the fold,” Eldredge said. “He needs a chance [before Monday] to play with the other guys.”
Inserting Fairclough back into the lineup is necessary if the Red hopes to make a run at a repeating as national champions. With their outfit at full strength, Cornell will begin to evaluate the tremendous challenge that presents itself at this year’s nationals. Unlike last year, the Red is a heavy underdog to take the crown
“They know they have a large hill to climb,” Eldredge said. “We have to go out there and play our game.”
The 2006 USPA Intercollegiate national championships begin on Apr. 2 and last all of next week.
Archived article by Patrick Blakemore Sun Staff Writer