October 28, 2008

Polo Team Looks to Capture National Titles This Year

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Women’s polo head coach David Eldredge ’81 has his eyes set on one thing this year: National title.
“Connecticut won the national championship last year and were undefeated,” he said. “The only team that came close to them was us.”
Thus the clear logic is that Cornell was the next best team. And with three of the Red’s four players returning from last year, there’s reason Cornell can’t find that same kind of success — if not more.
“We got three of our four players back,” Eldredge said. “We have the two Bold twins [Erin and Emily] and Ariana [Constant], who are all seniors.”
But for all the Red’s returners, the real reason Cornell has high hopes to overtake UConn is simple — it took one of the Huskies’ best players.
“Sophomore Lizzie Wisner wanted to come to Cornell last year, but ended up at UConn and helped the Huskies beat us last year en route to a National championship. After her All-American season, she transferred to Cornell.”
Finding out just how excited Eldredge actually is regarding the outlook for this season requires the mention of only one name: Lizzie.
“Lizzie [Wisner] has been a competitor ever since I saw her play in high school,” Eldredge said. “From that point on, I was hoping I would have the pleasure of coaching her. She really desires to be coached; she’ll take something I say and translate it into a play almost immediately. Watching her listen to what I say and then doing it has been phenomenal.”
With early season wins against Garrison Polo Club and Massachusetts at home and Virginia and Harvard twice on the road, the Red has compiled a 104-35 dominant edge in total scoring. The stars of the team, Constant and Wisner, did not even suit up for the three total games against UMass and Harvard. With Constant at position No. 3, Wisner at No. 2 and the Bold twins splitting time at No. 1, Eldredge thinks that the Red is clearly the best team in the land.
“We’re clearly the No. 1 team in the country,” he said. “We got ahead of [Virginia] 14-4 at halftime. To go down there and win like we did in their tough arena is huge in what it says about our team.”
Virginia also suffered a defeat at the hands of UConn, the Red’s historic foe and opponent this weekend. UConn lostall three starters as well as their top alternate with three players graduating and the other leaving for Ithaca to become a Cornellian (Wisner).
This power exchange has Eldredge buzzing about this season. Constant and Wisner, however, will have gone two weeks without playing in a game when the Red face the Huskies in Storrs, Conn. this weekend.
“The way they practice and what they’re doing in practice is going to transfer to the game very easily,” explains Eldredge. “UConn beat UVa in Virginia, so they’re not to be taken lightly, but they’re not nearly at the strength that they were in years past.”
If the confidence of Eldredge can spread to the squad and last until May, then the women in red have a wealth of talent that could lead to an undefeated campaign in 2008-2009.