November 6, 2006

Polo Captures Victories

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The men’s and women’s polo teams had a successful weekend at the ring with decisive wins on the road and an exciting main event draw at home for the women against two-time Interscholastic High School Champion Maryland Polo Club. The men’s team began the weekend’s polo matches with a bang in a 28-8 thrashing of the Thoroughbreds at Skidmore Friday night.

“It was what we expected,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “They’re very young and inexperienced.”

In his fourth time traveling to Skidmore, senior captain Stan Feldman assumed more of a central role than usual as he led the Red with 13 goals. Sophomores Richard Weidel and Jesse Llop notched nine and five goals, respectively. One goal was added by another important member of the team, a horse.

“[Playing in the smaller arena at Skidmore,] you can’t play fast. You just have to play diligently — keep your head down and keep digging the ball out until you put it in,” Feldman said.

Feldman is usually the set-up man for offensive powerhouses like junior Brian Fairclough and sophomore Bobby Harvey. This weekend, however, it was Feldman’s turn to shine.

“Stan is such a great presence. He went up there with two of the bench players, and he kept them cool — kept them calm,” Eldredge said. “He’s the one that [usually] holds it together by standing back.”

The women also performed well yesterday at Skidmore without fielding the usual varsity lineup. Seniors Genna Horvath, Nancy Glober and sophomore Ariana Constant made some adjustments after a rocky first half and outscored the Thoroughbreds, 15-1, in the second to win the match, 27-8.

[img_assist|nid=19621|title=Arm and hammer|desc=The women’s and men’s polo teams earned victories on the road and at home this past weekend.|link=popup|align=left|width=65|height=100]

Eldredge used this road trip to help choose the team’s alternate, and the race is still neck and neck since all three are consistently performing well. There was a relatively even distribution of goals as Constant scored 11, Horvath scored nine and Glober rounded out the final tally with six.

“They were really quite a balanced pack,” Eldredge said. “It’s tough [to choose an alternate.] … Each game, it’s been a different person.”
Back in Ithaca, the Oxley Equestrian Center was full of blood, sweat and tears on Saturday night when the women’s polo team faced the Maryland Polo Club in a long-awaited rematch. Senior Julie Nicholson was bleeding after being “boarded,” or pushed into the wall, by a Maryland player. But after four tightly contested chukkers, the tears were Maryland’s as the Red came out on top, 17-8.

“We knew that team was going to be tough. That team kicked us around last year. … We were not quite ready for their abilities [at that point]. Now it’s a few months later [in the year], and we were ready,” Eldredge said.

Maryland, the Interscholastic High School champions two years in a row, fielded the same lineup as last year.

The Red came out with something to prove, scoring first only 17 seconds into the match. The women went on to score five more unanswered goals until Courtney Asdourian made it 6-1 as the 30-second warning sounded.

“We set the tone very well in the first chukker,” Eldredge said.

Maryland’s crossing violation just six seconds in may have set the tone for the game as well. Maryland was continually frustrated by penalty calls, with the middle two chukkers especially drawn out due to stoppages in play.

“What that speaks to is that players are working and fighting and scrapping so hard that they get caught,” Eldredge said. “Where penalties happen is when you’re behind, like from Maryland’s perspective.”

Senior Ariel Katz broke a scoring drought for both teams with a goal two-and-a-half minutes into the second chukker. Maryland’s Kelsey Nussenfeld put her team on the board with less than three minutes remaining in the chukker. Katz, however, responded a little more than a minute later with a difficult shot at a steep angle for the goal. The rest of the chukker went scoreless to end the half with the Red firmly in the lead, 9-2.

As the second half progressed, it seemed that Maryland had put its fouling woes behind it. Then, a little less than two minutes in, Maryland was called for the first penalty of the half. Senior Monica Ganley would eventually score on a penalty shot with less than two minutes left in the chukker.

Foul shooting is an element of the game which the Red is currently working on, according to Eldredge, and Ganley performed especially well on Saturday. In fact, her teammates credited the win to Ganley’s elevated play — including her game-high seven goals.
“She held us together,” Katz said.

Though the Red scored first in the fourth chukker, the game wasn’t over yet. Maryland soon staged a comeback when Courtney Asdourian notched two goals and Lizzie Wisner tallied one within a minute, quickly raising the reactions around the ring to a fever pitch.

With the Red’s lead having shrunk to four, at 12-8, the women got a lucky break. Maryland was called for misexecution after failing to line up correctly when the Red took a penalty shot. On the replay of the shot, the Red got back on the board off the rebound.

From then on, the women controlled the game. Nicholson, Katz and Ganley all produced offense. They won the chukker, 6-3, and the match, 17-8. Eldredge was most impressed that his team kept their composure during Maryland’s run.

“If you lose your composure there, that team runs over you,” Eldredge said.

That’s what happened in the two team’s last meeting, when Maryland instead had the nine-point lead for the victory, 20-11. There will be an opportunity to continue this rivalry when Maryland comes to East Hill again in the winter.

“The girls are going to be a little more aware of how fast they have to be,” said Maryland coach Kelly Wells. “They have to speed it up.”