March 27, 2008

Polo Teams Close Regular Seasons

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Coming off four straight wins and a Northeast Regional Tournament championship, Cornell men’s polo will host the Tea Brook Polo Club of Buffalo today at 5:30 p.m. The game at Oxley Equestrian Center will feature all of Cornell’s starters, even though the Red has already clinched a spot in the National Tournament.
The Red opened up its season vs. Tea Brook on Oct. 12, when they lost 22-11.
“Tea Brook came in at the beginning of the year and beat up on us,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “We’re hoping to show them how much we’ve improved throughout the year, which has been a great deal.”
Agreeing with his coach, junior Bobby Harvey said, “It will be a good benchmark for us to prove to ourselves how far we’ve come this year.”
[img_assist|nid=29161|title=Swing away|desc=The men’s polo team will face off against the Tea Brook Polo Club today in a rematch of a 22-11 loss to the club in Oct.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red will use this game as preparation for the National Tournament, which begins next week in Lexington, Ky. Tea Brook’s skill set is comparable to that of UVA, Cornell’s chief rival and first-round opponent in the National tournament.
“[Tea Brook’s] a fast team just like UVA, and they both play open styles of polo, so this is great preparation,” Harvey said.
Although junior Rich Weidel and freshman Max Constant are a bit banged up, Eldredge has expectations for all three regular starters to play for the duration of the game.
“I’m expecting to play the starters the whole game. Rich’s injury can’t worsen; it’s an injury that involves pain, but no risk of further damage,” Eldredge said. “Max looked good in practice yesterday, and it will be good to play the main guys so we have a good mindset going into Nationals. I’m playing it by ear, but going into the matchup, we’re planning to play our main starters all game.”
Tea Brook features men aged 25 to 40, but this doesn’t intimidate the Red, which is playing the best it has all year.
“We’re playing really well together; everyone’s clicking,” Harvey said. “It’s the best time of year to be playing our best.”
The women’s polo team will round out its season at Oxley Equestrian Center tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. The women’s opponent was originally Meadowbrook, but the Red will play Central New York Polo Club instead.
The game was originally intended to prepare the Red for the National Tournament, which will be in Lexington, Ky. next week.
“It was going to be a tune-up for the girls if they were going to Nationals,” Eldredge said, “but because we’re not going to Nationals, I’m going to use it to give the seniors some playing time.”
CNY has women in their mid- to late-20s and should provide solid competition for the Red.
As a season wrap-up, “It’s going to be a low-key affair,” Eldredge said.
The only senior that receives regular playing time is Amanda Burns. Burns is looking forward to playing with some of her fellow seniors that she rarely got to play with over the last four years.
“It’s going to be a fun experience playing with the other seniors that don’t usually get to play,” Burns said. “I’m just looking to go out and have fun in my last game at Cornell. We’re going to play hard.”
The senior put the fact that Cornell missed out on Nationals in perspective.
“We were expecting to get the wild card, so it’s fairly devastating to not be able to go to Nationals,” she said, “However, going from having never picked up a mallet before Cornell to starting for varsity has been a life-changing experience for me, and Nationals is not the end all, be all of polo. I’m really glad that Cornell has provided me with the opportunity to play such an awesome sport.”