February 9, 2010

Polo Defeats Struggling Crimson

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The men’s polo team defeated Harvard 23-12 last Friday at Oxley Equestrian Center to extend its winning streak to four games and remain undefeated for the second half of the season.

With the victory, Cornell improves its overall record to 10-2 on the season.

The Red’s head coach, David Eldredge, admitted before the game against Harvard that the Crimson was not a strong opponent for his team, and that Cornell was going to take advantage of the matchup to improve its style of play for tougher upcoming games.

The Red started the game with freshmen Branden Van Loon, Connor Pardell and junior captain Max Constant.

Cornell came out with intensity at the beginning and took advantage of scoring chances to lead Harvard 10-2 after the end of the first chukker.

At the beginning of the second half, coach Eldredge pulled his starters and brought in the alternates. His strategy was to keep the team’s intensity at a high level and make sure that these players get playing time to improve the squad’s overall depth.

Juniors David Dunstan and Steven True and freshman Justin Schick came in to allow the starters to get some rest. During the third chukker, Harvard was able to outscore the Red four goals to two and make the score 21-8 after the end of the period.

“When you take the field in the second half and the score is 19-4 you feel pretty comfortable,” Constant said. “The alternates are playing really well together and even though they got outscored we are still happy with their performances.”

The Crimson tallied four goals during the last chukker—while Cornell only responded with two—to reduce the Red’s margin of victory from 13 goals to 11. The game finished with a score of 23-12 in favor of the Red.

Constant led Cornell in scoring with eight goals, followed by Pardell’s six and Van Loon’s four.

The Red is now preparing for one of its most important games of the entire season, a matchup against defending national champion Virginia at Oxley. Cornell’s last meeting with the Cavaliers ended in a tough 19-8 loss at Charlottesville.

“The game against Virginia is the one that we always look forward to in the schedule,” Constant said. “They play really well against us and have very talented players.”

The game is of great importance for Cornell, as the victory will not only improve the team’s credentials for the national title, but will also provide an emotional boost, since the Red has been dominated by the national champions in recent years.

Cornell has not won against the Cavaliers in the past four meetings and has been outscored 92-42. The last meeting won by Cornell was during the 2007-2008 season, in which the Red defeated Virginia at the National Championships 16-15.

“If we win it would be a very positive experience for the team,” Constant said. “But it doesn’t guarantee anything. There is no purpose in winning against them in the regular season and losing to them in the nationals.”

On the women’s side, Cornell remained undefeated with a crushing 26-2 victory last Saturday at Oxley over Harvard. The Red improved to 11-0 with the win over the Crimson.

The starting lineup of junior captain Lizzie Wisner, junior Jessica Cross and senior Erin Bold scored six goals before the Crimson could find the net for the first time. The Red would tally three more goals to end the first chukker with a 9-1 advantage.

Just like he did with the men’s team, coach Eldredge took some starters out of the game to provide playing time for the alternates. Sophomore Ali Hoffman and junior Kayleigh Sullivan replaced Wisner and Cross to start the second chukker.

The Red found the net five more times and managed to shut out the Harvard during the period to enter halftime with a 14-1 lead.

During the third chukker the lineup was modified again, this time with Wisner being joined by sophomore Britney Cox and junior Alice Rowland, the Red was able to find the net seven times and held the Crimson to only one goal to finish the third chukker with a score of 21-2.

The fourth chukker saw more changes to the lineup, but resulted in another shutout of Harvard and five goals for Cornell.

The women’s team is still No. 1 in the nation and is looking forward to maintaining its streak next Friday when it hosts the defending national champions Virginia.

“We will definitely love to win this one,” Eldredge said. “We know [Virginia], along with Kentucky, are a difficult teams that can knock us down.”

Unlike the men’s squad, the women’s side has a good record against the Cavaliers. The Red has won five of the past six meetings, the only loss coming from a disappointing game at the national final last year that saw Cornell lose its first game of the season at that time.

Original Author: AJ Ortiz