November 22, 2010

Polo Teams Prime Candidates for National Title

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The Bill Field Invitational proved an appropriate marker of where the men’s and women’s polo teams stand at this point of the competitive year. The men progressed to the championship game before falling to the University of Virginia, showing that Cornell needs to make more progress before it can overtake the Cavaliers in the spring, while the women’s win against defending national champion Kentucky reaffirms the strengths of the squad.

The men are working to build consistency on the field, and hold a 5-3 record after defeating Kentucky and Colorado State this weekend and falling to U.V.A.

“We’re gaining more consistency. We were very inconsistent in our first couple of matches and we’ve improved upon that,” said head coach David Eldredge. “And we still have more improvement to come.”

The starting lineup includes senior Max Constant and sophomores Branden Van Loon and Connor Pardell. These players and other alternates have been focusing practices on improving chemistry in terms of responding to each other’s playing styles in order to become more effective as a unit.

“With each game and with each practice we get more on each other’s page and keep working toward becoming a fluid, consistent set of players,” Constant said. “The biggest change has been having a better sense of where we all are on the field, the types of plays that we’re making and where we’re placing the ball. That’s just something that comes with playing with each other for an extended period of time.”

After adding three more wins this weekend to its already impressive record, the women’s team remains unbeaten after ten matches.

“We’re really competitive and we might even be more competitive than last year,” said senior Jessica Cross.

To cap off its successful string of matches at this weekend’s Bill Field Invitational, the squad defeated last year’s national champion Kentucky, 21-15, during Sunday’s championship match.

“We have great team chemistry,” said junior Ali Hoffman. “It’s still early in comparison to how far we’ll need to go later in the season, because the national championships aren’t until April. The fact that we’re working so well already is a very strong indication of how it’s going to be in April. We’re really happy about that.”

The Red’s lineup includes senior Lizzie Wisner and freshman Kailey Eldredge in addition to Hoffman and Cross.

“In just a short period of time we’ve learned how to play to each other’s strengths really well,” Hoffman said.

After losing starter Erin Bold to graduation last year, Cornell has given Eldridge, a freshman, a chance to play on a very experienced squad.

“She is a very strong offensive player and she has always been that way,” Hoffman said. “Her game has really improved within the last year and she’s a very strong factor in our team.”

Both teams are wrapping up their fall seasons, with matches against Kemptville.

Original Author: Laura Dwulet