October 16, 2007

Inexperience Dooms Polo Teams

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It was a weekend for sports cliché enthusiasts this past weekend as Tea Brook Polo Club’s experienced talent trumped the men’s polo team’s inexperienced talent, 22-11. A veteran-heavy Maryland squad also got past the women’s team’s band of rookies.
“This was our first game playing together,” said junior Rich Weidel, who switched from the No. 1 spot to the No. 3 spot to start the year. “[Junior captain] Bobby [Harvey] and I are both returning starters but we have Max Constant, who is a freshman playing with us. It was a matter of the other team having more experience both individually and as a team playing together. They capitalized on our bad mistakes. They really exploited us that way.”
With the Red (0-1) trotting out a new lineup, Weidel said they had some difficulty rotating with each other, allowing Tea Brook to take advantage in the transition game.
“I switched from No. 1 on offense back to No 3 this year,” he said. “Max Constant is now No. 1. We don’t have our rotations down, and they were able to exploit us on the transition from offense to defense.”
Another area of concern was fouls. Tea Brook jumped out to an early 10-4 lead, with half of its goals coming on foul shots. For the game, the Red had 23 fouls to Tea Brook’s nine.
“I think the positive was that this really exposed some of our weaknesses,” Weidel said. “We have video now, so we are going to sit down this week and really go through it and look at what we need to fix.”
The Red did get nine goals from Harvey, who Weidel thinks has stepped into more of a leadership role this year as captain after being somehwat under the radar last year due to the presence of Stan Feldman ’07.
“I’m really impressed with Bobby,” Weidel said. “… He’s really done a great job of leadership both on and off the field. He really took charge in the game yesterday and helped bring Max [Constant] along. I look to Bobby on the field because he’s more experienced me. He’s going to help all of us figure out what we need to do individually to get better as a team.”
For Constant, who had the other two Red goals, his first game was the same introduction every freshman gets to the faster-paced college game.
“I think this was a little bit of a wake up call for [Constant] that collegiate polo is a little bit different than high school polo,” Weidel said.
Still, Weidel sees the talent in this squad and knows that cutting down on fouls and learning rotations is just a matter of time and practice. While he said he felt that the three players played as three individuals instead of a team at times this weekend, he knows that they can bring it together.
“We’re going to come back against them in the spring and it will be a good test for us because we think we have the talent to beat a team like that once we have some time playing together,” he said.
The women’s team experienced similar dificulties. Althougth the starting squad consisted of two juniors — Emily Bold and Ariana Constant — and one senior — Amanda Burns — the Red lineup didn’t have any returning starters.
The game was a back-and-forth affair for the first chukker, with the squads playing to a tie at the quarter break. Maryland pulled ahead in the second, though, and entered halftime with an 8-4 lead.
Head coach Dave Eldridge ’81 made a roster move at intermission, putting Bold’s sister, junior Erin Bold, in for the third. The move couldn’t get the squad any closer, though, as Maryland went up by five, 11-6, entering the final period.
The Red made one final push in the final 15 minutes, though. The players couldn’t get closer than one goal, however, and eventually fell 14-11.
Constant led the squad with eight goals.