April 7, 2009

Polo Preps For Nationals

Print More

The brackets are complete. After every March Madness, April Absurdity is quick to follow. Cornell’s women’s polo team will begin play this week in Charlottesville, Va. as the No. 1 seed in the seven-team national tournament. The quarter-final women’s match-ups are as follows: No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 7 Oregon State; No. 3 UConn vs. No. 6 Cal Poly; No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Texas A&M.
The 21-0 Red will play the winner of the 4/5 contest, which figures to be the Wildcats, who already defeated the Aggies earlier this season. [img_assist|nid=36633|title=Ride on|desc=The men’s polo team heads into Nationals as the No. 3 seed. The undefeated women are ranked first in the country.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Following their bye, the Red will play their semi-final game on Thursday. According to head coach David Eldredge ’81, rust does not seem to be on the radar.
“The women practiced three times last week and are resting today (Monday),” said Eldredge. “We had a good trip down to Virginia and everyone is in a good frame of mind and playing well. There are the nerves that you would expect going into the tournament.”
Seniors Ariana Constant and Erin Bold and sophomore Lizzie Wisner will start for the Red, who will likely sub Emily Bold in for her twin sister occasionally.
“The plan is rotate the Bolds, but we have to see how the game is going,” Eldredge said.
The Red will receive substantial benefits from its tremendous regular season, with a major perk coming in the form of the schedule.
“The bonus out of the schedule is that the Kentucky-Texas A&M game is Wednesday at 2 p.m. and the winner has to play us Thursday at 10 a.m.,” Eldredge said. “Kentucky has beaten Texas A&M so [the Wildcats] probably hold the edge in that game. That game should be competitive, though, and we hope it’s competitive so that the winner is tired out when they have to play us after less than a 24-hour rest.”
Of the four women who have played the majority of the minutes this season, the Red features three seniors. They are all eager to start the ball rolling.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough game on Thursday, no matter who we face (Kentucky or Texas A&M),” said senior Emily Bold. “We feel we’re up for the challenge, and if we play our game, we should come out on top. At this point, we’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re going to try to make it through Thursday and focus on our game and then do what we came here to do, which is to win nationals.”
The men will almsot certainly have to travel a rockier road to capture their own trophy. As the No. 3 seed, the men will have to win three games to win it all. The No. 1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers receive a quarter-final round bye while No. 2 Texas A&M takes on No. 7 Eastern Oregon, No. 3Cornell faces off against No. 6 Westmont, and No. 4 UConn battles No. 5 Colorado State.
The Red’s tilt with the Westmont Warriors will commence Tuesday at 4 p.m. If the Red can ease past the Santa Barbara, Calif. school, they will take on the winner of Texas A&M and Eastern Oregon. The Aggies are favored over the Mounties in their first round skirmish.
“The men are in a good frame of mind,” Eldredge said. “We had a very good last game. This week of practice has been good. The guys are in a good place right now. They’re playing well. We’re looking forward to our game against Westmont. We feel that it will be a competitive match and we can’t sleepwalk through the game by any means, but we feel that we can win it. It should be a good warm-up for our next game, where our likely opponent will be Texas A&M.”
The opening line-up will be not be an unexpected one for the Red. Seniors Bobby Harvey and Rich Weidel will team up with sophomore Max Constant to form the core of the squad that made it to the national title game a year ago.
“I played with Bobby (Harvey) in my first national tournament two years ago,” Weidel said. “This is my third and Max Constant’s second. We all played together last year and came in second in the country. I think we’re going into this with confidence under our belts. We obviously proved ourselves last year. We didn’t come out on top like we wanted, but last year helps get rid of some of the nerves this year. We’re a little more seasoned.”
Senior Tim Scott is the alternate for the Red. Cornell’s scoring leader Constant looked for a middle ground to compare the Red with the Warriors.
“Coming off a really great practice, we’re looking to continue what we’ve been doing as we enter the first round of the national tournament,” he said. “They’re a solid team. We have one game in common, which was vs. Stanford. We’re going into this game looking to really set the tone for the tournament and prove that we are competitive nationally.”
Westmont beat Stanford 20-4 to get into the national tournament. Cornell beat Stanford earlier in the season, 30-7.
“Tomorrow will be a good experience for the more heated matches later in the week, assuming we prevail tomorrow,” Weidel said.
Harvey put the looming week in perspective. “Going into tomorrow, we’re feeling confident. We played against Westmont two years ago. Their team hasn’t changed that much. They’re a strong team, but they’re definitely beatable. We’re really pulling to make it back to the finals again this year. Texas A&M [possible semi-final opponent on Thursday] lost one of their key players and UVa [potential final adversary] is a threat to worry about, but we’re taking it one game a time. These are definitely winnable games for us.”