November 20, 2007

Virginia Drops Polo in Tourney

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Both the men’s and women’s polo teams came into the William S. Field Invitational coming off big wins and both squads looked to use that momentum to carry them to glory.
Both teams, however, could not win the tournament as both were eliminated by Virginia. The men fell to the Cavaliers in the finals while the women lost in the second round.
The tournament saw 12 teams from a total of eight different schools come to Ithaca, making up draws of six teams for both the men and the women for a 5-day stretch of competitive polo action at the Oxley Equestrian Center.
Joining the Red in the men’s draw were teams from Harvard, UConn, Yale, Texas Tech and Virginia. The Red got its slate of games underway Wednesday night with an impressive 28-9 round-robin win over Harvard.
The Red got out to an early 9-1 lead in the first chukker and never looked back. Junior captain Bobby Harvey led the way with 13 goals, and freshman Max Constant added 12 of his own as the Red’s offensive attack proved too much to handle for the Crimson.
The men continued the hot play as they met up with Texas Tech on Friday evening for the Red’s second and final round-robin match of the tournament. The Raiders provided more of a test, but the Red were able to stick to its game-plan, posting a 21-14 win and earning a spot in the tourney finals on Sunday.
The men’s action came to its peak on Sunday afternoon as the Red squared off against the University of Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game.
The Cavaliers got off to a quick start, mounting a 6-2 lead in the first chukker. The game saw some physical play as Cornell attempted to climb back. However, Virginia refused to relinquish that lead for the rest of the game, holding on for a 21-14 victory, earning the tournament championship.
Harvey once again led the way for the Red with eight goals and Constant added three of his own, while junior defensive-specialist Rich Weidel chipped in offensively with one goal. Harvey attributed the loss to some undisciplined play that gave the Cavaliers too many free opportunities.
“UVA has raw talent, but they just go out and play as individuals,” Harvey said. “Our game plan was to make them come to us. We were hoping to play a team game … we stuck to that game plan, but unfortunately we fouled a lot, and provided them with a lot of penalty-shots.”
The Red will face against Virginia at least twice more this season, and Harvey notes that the team has gained some valuable lessons for those games.
“We have the talent … to be able to beat them next time around,” Harvey said.
Along with the Red, the women’s draw consisted of teams from UMass, Skidmore, UConn, Yale, and Virginia.
The Red kicked off its tournament with a dominating 21-2 rout of UMass on Wednesday afternoon. The Red took command early, going up 12-1 after two chukkers and continued its controlling play throughout the game. Junior Emily Bold posted a game-high 10 goals, while junior captain Ari Constant notched seven goals in just two chukkers of play.
Constant was very happy with the team’s overall performance against UMass and she explained that the team had been working to improve its offensive performance.
“The first game against UMass was great,” Constant said. “We came out strong and confident. … We had been practising our accuracy on goal; we had been having a lot of trouble around the goal-mouth getting the ball into the goal.”
The Red looked to continue its overwhelming play heading into its second round-robin match Saturday evening against Virginia, a team it had beaten 14-10 earlier in the season. However, this time the Cavaliers jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first chukker, making it difficult for the Red to charge a comeback in the tightly contested matchup.
Despite an impressive eight-goal performance from Constant, the Red were unable to overcome the early deficit, falling 15-12 to the Cavaliers. Constant attributed the shaky play at the start the game to a lack of energy.
“[Our plan was] just to play our game,” Constant said. “We didn’t have the energy level as high as it needed to be. We needed to come out with guns-blazing. … We came out a little bit too confident and with not enough energy. They basically out-hustled us.”
Due to the loss, the Red failed to qualify for the final match on Sunday.
The UConn Huskies were able to capture the women’s championship with its win over Virginia.
Both the men’s and women’s teams saw the tournament as a solid building block for the rest of the season and look to improve its play to be ready for the national championships in the spring.
“As a younger team, we’re learning,” Harvey said.