The men’s and women’s polo teams began their defense of their respective East Regional championships in dominating fashion on Saturday evening, combining for 64 goals against just four from the opposition. The men’s team traveled to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to defeat Skidmore College and earn its first victory of the season, while the women’s team got a similar result against the University of Massachusetts within the friendly confines of Cornell’s very own Oxley Equestrian Center. For both teams, the season-opening victories were just the first step in what is anticipated to be a very successful season for the Red.Two weeks after its scheduled home opener against Skidmore was postponed, the men’s squad found itself in enemy territory for the start of the 2010 campaign. As any New Yorker would point out, though, upstate New York is anything above Westchester and the Red (1-0, 0-0) felt right at home in Saratoga Springs as it cruised to a 30-4 victory over the Thoroughbreds (0-1).Leading the Red onslaught was sophomore Branden Van Loon, whose 12 goals was best among all scorers. Van Loon’s fellow starters, senior David Dunstan and sophomore Connor Pardell, contributed six and nine goals, respectively, and sophomore Justin Schick added three of his own to round out the scoring for Cornell.Back in Ithaca, the women’s team found similar success in a 34-1 rout of the University of Massachusetts. The two schools have become familiar foes over the years, having faced each other twice last season and 11 times overall, and the Red (1-0, 0-0) has developed a reputation of defeating the Minutemen rather handily. This time was no different, as Cornell jumped out to a 20-1 halftime lead behind a balanced scoring attack.Senior Lizzie Wisner led all Cornell scorers with 10 goals on the evening, followed by freshman Kailey Eldredge and senior Kate Harkness with six goals apiece. Seniors Claire Gashan and Jess Cross and junior Ali Hoffman combined for nine more Cornell goals and even a pony got in on the act, scoring a goal of its own in the near-shutout victory.Despite the dominating performances of Cornell’s two polo squads this past weekend, much of the season is yet to be played and tougher challenges lie ahead. The men’s team will get one of those challenges this upcoming weekend when it welcomes Work to Ride to the Oxley Equestrian Center on Saturday evening. Established in 1994, Work-to-Ride is a Philadelphia-based non-profit program that provides disadvantaged youths with the opportunity to participate in various equine activities, including polo. Next weekend’s matchup will be the third meeting between Work to Ride and Cornell, with the previous two contests resulting in victories for the Red. The most recent game came last season, when Cornell defeated the program’s representative team, 20-9. The women’s team will have to wait an extra week before taking the field, when it hosts the University of Connecticut on Oct. 29. The Red faced the Huskies three times last season, including once in the Northeast Regionals. Cornell can expect Connecticut to be in search of revenge when it comes to Ithaca, as the Red were victories in all three meetings between the two teams and outscored its opponent, 67-30.
Original Author: Dan Froats