March 13, 2008

W. Polo Opens Regionals Against Crimson

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With the Eastern Regional Championships beginning today at Oxley Equestrian Center, the women’s polo team (10-5) is approaching that time of year that defines the year’s success or failure — Nationals. Before the Red can get ahead of itself, however, the team will face off against Harvard today at 12:30 p.m. at Oxley Equestrian Center.
Harvard is the lowest seed in the tournament at No. 7. Though the team doesn’t have any previous experience with the Crimson to draw from, Cornell is not particularly worried.
“We should be able to handle them quite easily,” said head coach David Eldredge ‘81. “They’re a relatively new team. [The program] just started back up after a few years. They’re a pretty young, green team, so we should have no trouble moving on to the semifinals.”
[img_assist|nid=28812|title=Closing in|desc=Amanda Burns played well against Virginia Feb. 3, but the starting spot today in the Red’s opening Eastern Regional Championships match is undecided between Burns and Erin Bold. Both have been recently recovering from illnesses.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Junior captain Ariana Constant will lead the team today at Oxley, with junior Emily Bold starting for sure, as well. The third starting spot, however, depends on the game-time health status of two other players: senior Amanda Burns and junior Erin Bold.
“We’ve had a season of sicknesses,” Constant said. “[Burns is] finally coming out of it [after battling the flu. I was sick] about a month ago, and Erin Bold was also sick this past weekend. Hopefully everyone’s now feeling better.”
The frequency of sickness hasn’t affected the team’s cohesiveness, according to Constant, because the team has entire year’s worth of experience under its belt.
“There are no guarantees,” Constant said. “UConn has beaten us twice before, but on any given day, you can beat any given team. The game at Nationals would be what counts.”
“Right now, UConn is the No. 1 in the country and we’re No. 2,” Eldredge. “We’re definitely the underdog.”
The Huskies defeated the Red both times they saw each other this year, albeit under different circumstances. When Cornell was at full strength in its home arena in Nov., the Red only lost by one goal, 18-17. But when the Huskies hosted the Red in Storrs, Conn. Feb. 17, Constant was out sick, and Cornell fell by a large margin, 22-14.
After that disappointing loss, the Red lost a close road match to perennial power Virginia, 13-12. The next day, however, the trend of close margins fell in Cornell’s favor with a 15-14 win over Maryland.
“I’m as happy as I can be at this point, because the team is starting to round out into the team it can be,” Eldredge said.
After competing against CPC last weekend in a 14-8 win, the Red is ready to face nationally-ranked competition again.
“At the end of the last game [against CPC], everything seemed to click, so we’re hoping to carry the momentum from the last period [of that game into Regionals],” Constant said.
In addition to Cornell’s matchup with Harvard, today will feature contests between No. 3 seeded UMass and No. 6 Vassar and between No. 4 Skidmore vs. No. 5 Yale. Assuming a Cornell victory today, tomorrow the Red will play the winner of the UMass/Vassar match, while well-rested UConn will face the winner of the Skidmore/Yale match, since the Huskies have the only bye of the tournament as the top-seeded team.
“The first two games [we play] should be pretty easy,” Constant said, “so hopefully it’ll be a warmup for the final, against UConn.”