Last weekend proved to be most disappointing for the men’s and women’s polo teams. Both squads lost close games on the road against the Kentucky Wildcats.
The No. 1 women’s team came to this game with a 2-0 record against Kentucky. However, it is noteworthy to mention that both of those matches were held at Oxley Equestrian Center, where the Red players have the advantage of playing with the horses they are accustomed to riding.
The trip to Lexington not only implied that Cornell needed to adapt to new horses, but it also meant that the Red was going to play for the first time this season in a Wildcats’ arena that is 60 feet wider and 50 feet longer than Cornell’s playing field.
“I don’t know if the field had a big effect on us,” said senior Erin Bold. “Riding their horses was definitely a different experience that affected our game to a certain extent. However, this is a positive experience for us because those are the horses that we get to ride at the nationals.”
At the beginning of the match-up, the home field advantage factor did not seem like it was going to play a role in the game after Cornell went ahead, 2-0. However, Kentucky struck four in a row to end the first chukker with a 4-2 advantage.
The Red fought back during the second chukker, and after an exchange of goals, the scoreboard showed that the game was seven goals apiece going into the half.
The Wildcats came out strong after the break to tally six unanswered goals and regain the lead. Cornell would eventually find the net two more times before the end of the third chukker to reduce Kentucky’s advantage.
The fourth chukker started with the Wildcats leading, 13-9, but it was the Red who struck first during the last period of regulation. Cornell scored three consecutive goals to close Kentucky’s margin of victory to a single goal with 1:18 left on the clock.
However, the Wildcats destroyed the Red’s attempts for an undefeated record after scoring another goal to secure the victory, and boost their confidence for the approaching tournaments.
“I would say that Kentucky is one of the strongest contenders because they have a lot of talent and if they are confident, they are really dangerous,” said Bold. “We are not getting frustrated for the game, this is just a preparation for the future because I’m pretty sure we will meet them again.”
The men’s team now has a 10-4 record after losing to Kentucky with only 30 seconds remaining in a second-round shootout.
Like the women’s squad, the men’s team had defeated the Wildcats earlier this season, but at Oxley. The trip to Kentucky presented some challenges for the men’s side as well.
The Wildcats won the first chukker by outscoring Cornell five goals to two. After an exchange of goals by both offenses, the second chukker finished in a seven to six score in favor of Kentucky.
During the third chukker, the Wildcats outscored the Red three goals to two and extended its lead to a pair of goals entering to the last chukker. Then, the trio of captain Max Constant, Connor Pardell and Branden Van Loon found the net three straight times to take the lead for the first time in the game.
Cornell was 30 seconds away from an important victory but allowed a tying goal that forced the teams to eventually go into a shootout.
“Their tying goal came from a broken play. It was a very lucky bounce,” Constant said. “The ball got in front of the goal and it was a very unfortunate event for the team.”
During the second round of the shootout, Cornell failed to score after Kentucky’s conversion and the victorious Wildcats celebrated a tough, yet exciting win on their own turf.
“I take a lot of blame for missing the penalty [at the end of the fourth chukker] that could have won the game,” said Constant. “It was a situation that could have happened to anyone. I was not having a good day, and it just happened.”
Original Author: AJ Ortiz