March 15, 2010

Polo Teams Win Regionals for Bid To National Tourney

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It has been an exciting weekend for Cornell sports. The women’s hockey team clinched a spot in the national semifinals; then men’s hockey team swept Harvard at home to advance to the ECAC semifinals and the men’s basketball team learned its opponent for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

The men’s and women’s polo teams are no exception to this winning trend. Men’s basketball center Jeff Foote and men’s hockey goalie Ben Scrivens were among the crowd that saw how both squads are riding to Charlottesville, VA to participate in the National Championships after winning the regional competition last weekend at Oxley Equestrian Center.

The men’s side (11-5) entered the tournament with the confidence of having defeated the major teams in the competition; thus, they were favored to clinch the ticket to the National Championships.

“We were in a position where we have already beaten most of the other teams before. We knew what type of teams we were going to face,” said junior captain Max Constant. “It was all a matter of execution. We knew what was necessary to fulfill our plan. We just did not want to get over confident.”

Cornell defeated Kemptville in the semifinals of the regional tournament by an overwhelming score of 47-2. With the victory, the Red advanced to the finals and faced the University of Connecticut for the third straight year.

“We expected UConn in the final. It has been like this since my freshman year,” said Constant. “They are a beatable team if you execute your game plan against them. However, you can easily lose to them if you get too confident.”

The Red topped the Huskies in the regional final for a third straight year with a final score of 24-15. Connecticut held a 5-4 advantage after the end of the first chukker but Cornell regained the lead during the second period of regulation.

The Huskies trailed for the entire second chukker and most of the third until it was able to tie the score at 14 with 15 seconds remaining. During the fourth, the Red went on a four-goal streak to take the advantage and not look back.

Cornell is now waiting to hear which is going to be its next opponent at the Nationals. It is expected that the Red will be a third-seed and will likely face a sixth-seed team in the first round. It is also predicted that if the Red win in the first round, they would face Texas A&M, the team that defeated Cornell last year in the national semifinals.

“The Nationals are not a new thing for me. I’ve been there for the last two years,” said Constant. “But it is going to be important for the new guys on the team to deal with that pressure because at this level, there is no room for error. They are doing a good job so far and I hope that we can keep playing at our best level of polo as a team.”

The women’s side found similar success to the men’s, having gone into the tournament with a 13-1 record.The team also defeated the UConn opponent in a stunning win, 24-9, leaving it entering the national tournament with no more than one loss out of fifteen games.

Similar to Constant’s concerns for the men’s team, the women will also need to help acclimate younger players to Nationals as they try their best to come out on top for what will be considered an epic season culmination.

Original Author: AJ Ortiz