April 1, 2008

Red Competes Down South at Nationals

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The Cornell’s men’s polo team listened to a lot of country music Monday on the flight to the national tournament. Both of the teams standing in the way of a Cornellian national championship are from south of the Mason Dixon line, and the tournament is being held in the south as well.
If No. 3 Cornell beats No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., then their likely opponent in the final will be Texas A & M. Cornell holds a 1-3 record versus the Cavaliers this year, but the Red is playing its best polo of the year and has the right amount of confidence heading into the evening contest.
“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to attain one of the top three spots to give ourselves a chance to make a run at the title,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “We would really like to make it to the final game. Making the championship game opens the door to the possibility of winning.”[img_assist|nid=29347|title=One more chukker|desc=Cornell faces a win or go home situation today as it travels to Kentucky for the first round of the polo national championships.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Before they get to that final game, though, the Red will have to slip by a very tough UVA team.
“First semester, (UVA) showed us that we had some work to do. By the second semester, when we beat them the first time and played them in a close loss at their place the second time, we realized we were very close to where we ultimately wanted to be,” discussed Eldredge.
Texas A & M will face off against No.4 Westmont College (Ca.) on Thursday in the second leg of the semi-final stage.
“We know (the Aggies) are playing well,” said Eldredge. “We haven’t seen them, so we don’t know if we’re at their level yet. We know we can play with UVA, though, and we expect that to be a close game.”
The championship game will be Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Cornell has had a very successful season so far and is on pace to attain their original October goal of reaching the title game in April.
From the beginning of the year, “We knew we had the talent in place,” said Eldredge. “(junior) Bobby (Harvey) and (junior) Rich (Weidel) were returning. We had Max Constant coming in as a freshman. Constant has been a nice addition to the team because he has added that ability to score and make plays. He had to adjust to the system, though. Any inconsistencies he may have had early on came from his trying to adjust. He became more settled and consistent in our teamwork-based system.”
Constant is now fully adjusted and ready to go against the Cavs. “It’s a great opportunity to play at nationals. We’re all really excited to both watch and play the top collegiate polo teams in the country,” said the star freshman.
Harvey’s on a hot streak, Constant’s coming together, and Weidel is ready to win. “All of our parts have to be working in order for us to be successful. I believe there is enough talent here that if all of our parts are working perfectly we can be the best team in the country,” wrapped up Eldredge.
The Cornell Red and white will find out just how far they’ve come this year when they take on Virginia in what should amount to a very close contest.