April 7, 2008

Men’s Polo Can’t Overcome Early Deficit in Loss

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Do all good things come to an end? Not necessarily, according to the Cornell men’s polo team. Although Nelly Furtado and Chris Martin might disagree, the Red thinks that the good things from 2007-08 will only continue into 2008-09.
After suffering a 20-10 defeat to No. 1 Texas A&M in the National championship final at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday night, No. 3 Cornell was as upbeat as ever.
“Our goal this year was to play for the National championship and we lived up to the expectations we had for ourselves at the beginning of the year,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “Next year’s goal is to win the National championship. The guys know what it takes and what is necessary to win it now that they’ve experienced it.[img_assist|nid=29594|title=A Constant threat|desc=Freshman Max Constant (3) was named a National tournament All-Star after the Red lost to Texas A&M in the finals.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
This season, though, belonged to the boys from College Station, Texas. The Aggies built a quick 6-0 lead that they would never relinquish. The Red managed to score two goals before the end of the first chukker, but a four-goal deficit was as close as the competitors from Ithaca would get.
“Down 10-4 at halftime, we changed how we were going to defend each of their players,” Eldredge said. “After the break, we went out and won the third chukker, 5-3, to put us down 13-9 going into the fourth period. We felt good then, and the pressure was on them. We put them in a position where they had to respond.”
The maroon and white responded to say the least.
“We had a little bit of a groove going, and it was up to them to prove that they deserved the No. 1 ranking and the trophy, and they did,” Eldredge said. “They got us into foul trouble in the last chukker and converted on a number of penalty shots. Our foul trouble put the game away. We gave them an opportunity to fail, and they succeeded rather than failing. My hat is off to them.
Junior Bobby Harvey recorded six goals and freshman Max Constant notched four. Constant also was named a National tournament All-Star.
“It’s a great feeling to be recognized as one of the top-4 college polo players in the country,” Constant said.
Junior Rich Weidel also contributed heavily in the title game.
“The guys on Texas A&M had an average of three times the experience Rich [Weidel] had,” Eldredge said. “He went out there and showed well. The Aggies couldn’t believe that he had only been playing for less than three years.”
“After thinking about how far we’ve come on the flight home, I realized we’ve come leaps and bounds,” Harvey said. “With Max [Constant] and Rich [Weidel] coming along, we proved to ourselves what we can do when we play together. We have a much higher benchmark for ourselves going into next year. We have a really positive outlook.
Eldredge is already focused on next year.
“There are only two teams that get to play for the national championship,” he said. “We were one of those teams; that’s pretty darn good. Next year, Texas A&M, Virginia and we [the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 teams in the country] all return each and every starter, so 2008-09 will be very interesting. The guys are already looking forward to it.”