November 15, 2010

Women’s Polo Gains National Recognition With Pair of Wins

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This weekend marked another two straight wins for the undefeated women’s polo squad, while the men’s team fell to the University of Virginia in a close 17-16 match. The women (7-0) traveled to defeat U.V.A., 18-12, before returning home to shut out Yale with a landslide 34-0 win. The Red’s contest against U.V.A. proved a tough test as the women matched up against one of the country’s strongest polo teams.“They had very good teamwork and at the start we had a little trouble adjusting to their horses, which are a bit more difficult than ours are in general. … But part of the game is being able to jump on a new horse and to figure it out quickly,” said senior captain Lizzie Wisner. “And they were sharp out of the lineup, so it took us a while to catch up to that speed.”Riding for the Red against U.V.A. were Lizzie Wisner, Kailey Eldredge and Ali Hoffman, who scored 10, six and two goals in the match, respectively. “It was tough like we were expecting it to be. They are definitely our hardest competition of the year so far,” Wisner said. Virginia started off briskly with a 3-0 lead before the Red answered back with a string of points to tie up the first chukker.  “We started out a bit slow and let them jump up on us before we kicked in and started playing, and from there we very steadily took more control of the game,” Wisner said. Cornell wrapped up the win after powering into the fourth chukker with a five-point lead. Hosting Yale, the Red mixed up its lineup to allow six different riders to get playing time, three starting and another three picking up with the second half.  “It was nice to play with different people. It took each person a minute or two to adapt to the speed of the game. It was a lot slower than most games are and we had to adapt to playing with people we’re not always used to playing with,” said senior Claire Glashan. The two groups of Cornell players mirrored one another in terms of scoring, shown by the 17 goals scored in both the first and the second half. Glashan noted that the Bulldogs as a team lack the amount of experience that the Red enjoys. “One of their girls is brand-new and has had very little polo exposure so she had difficulty with our horses and a lot of the rough contact that is part of polo was new to her,” Glashan said. “Yale, after their program got shut down last year, doesn’t have a good arena to practice in; they’re playing in a barn that’s not a polo barn, but a roping barn, so they don’t get a huge amount of practice.”The Red was able to control the ball for most of the game and thus earned its win by a large margin. Putting up a fight against their southern rival, the men (3-3) lost to U.V.A. by a close 17-16 margin after two rounds of shootouts. Though the team took a loss this weekend, Cornell proved it is a viable competitor on the national stage.“They’re a team that we always expect to give us a good tough game, but at the same time it’s always a game that we know we’ll learn a lot from,” said sophomore Branden Van Loon. After spending the first weeks of the season competing regionally, the Red took the match against Virginia as an opportunity to familiarize itself with a different style of competitor. “It’s always good to play with different teams, because the U.V.A. boys play a lot differently from the UConn boys,” Van Loon said. That the Red was able to nearly defeat U.V.A. is a sign of good things to come in terms of national competition play. “It definitely reaffirmed the point that we’re going to be a good contender to compete in the national tournament this year. Every year we have to reestablish ourselves as being worthy to compete at nationals and so getting this close to U.V.A. throws our team definitively into the ring,” Van Loon said. The Red’s lead in the fourth chukker slipped away as the clock was running out. “The last two minutes of the game were definitely really intense. It was a case of everyone scrambling for any sort of handle on the ball that we could,” Van Loon said. “The two options were to keep scoring or to run out the clock, and basically you try to keep scoring, but sometimes end up … trying to run out the clock.”During the last few minutes of the game, the Red tied up the score and got ahead of U.V.A. by a goal before the Cavaliers answered with a point that forced the teams into overtime play.   “They got a really good shot in with about five minutes left through some horses’ legs that tied us up and put us into a shootout,” Van Loon said. After two rounds of a shootout, Virginia clipped in the winning point. Next up for both the women and men is the Bill Field Invitational, when the Red will host a series of matches here in Ithaca.

Original Author: Laura Dwulet