To close out an extremely successful fall season, the men’s and women’s polo teams will face a familiar foe this weekend as Cornell hosts Yale at Oxley Equestrian Center in the two teams third match-up in as many months. The women will take the arena at 7:30 tonight, followed by the men at 2 p.m. tomorrow. The Red, however, know how to handle the Bulldogs, having defeated Yale both at home for the annual Bill Field Invitational and on the road.
“We know from playing Yale at Yale and here for the Bill Field [Invitational] … that they’re pretty weak,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81.
As such, these matches will give Eldredge a rare opportunity to give his starters a week off and his talented reserves a shot in the ring. Instead of fielding the usual starting three, he will be suiting up a large group of players off the bench for both the men’s and women’s teams. Eldredge is excited to get the reserves in actual competition.
“When you get into the higher level teams, [the bench players] don’t see the time,” he said. “It’s great for those players to get out and get the same experiences [as the starters]. … [The starters] ended on such a great note with the Bill Field tournament, so [playing Yale] is not going to be much of an issue.”
In the Bill Field Invitational two weeks ago, the women’s team of seniors Julie Nicholson, Monica Ganley and captain Ariel Katz defeated Virginia in the finals, 16-12. The men, led by senior captain Stan Feldman, junior Brian Fairclough and sophomore Bobby Harvey, also had success with a run to the finals, though Virginia toppled them, 14-13, in a neck-and-neck contest for the championship.
“[The tournament] told us so much and put us in such a good place,” Eldredge said.
But on the way to the finals, the starters also had some help from the bench. The Red’s first draw in the tournament was Yale. Facing the Bulldogs, both the men’s and women’s teams set the tone for their dominant tournament play. The men won, 29-8, while the women also ran over Yale, 24-3, as a result of an even scoring distribution. Eight players scored for the women and seven for the men.
Guided by the regular starters, the Red’s reserves stepped up as well. Senior Nancy Glober and junior Amanda Burns came off the bench to lead the women with four goals each. The Red’s reserves already had experience against the Bulldogs.
The Red’s first encounter of the year with Yale was on the road in late October. In New Haven, Conn., senior Andrew Fairclough, sophomore Rich Weidel and starter Harvey claimed a 26-4 victory. Though made up entirely of bench players, the women’s team still steamrolled over the Bulldogs the next day, 30-3, led by standout sophomore Ariana Constant’s 12 goals.
Constant is confident that the Red’s depth will lead to a victory. The game will be similar to the Bill Field match-up in that many team members will play. The only potential problem is that the Red may be dragged down by the quality of Yale’s play.
“We need to play our game and not get frustrated by them if they’re fouling or going too slow,” Constant said.
This weekend will be Cornell spectators’ last chance to see the Red face an Ivy League opponents this year. The men’s and women’s teams are seeking to continue their high level of play during the fall and carry it over into the highly competitive spring season.
“We’re setting our goals for specific things to work on in the spring, so after the intersession, then we’re going to buckle down,” Eldredge said.