February 28, 2011

Red Outlasts Kentucky

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After a successful weekend on the road, the polo squads each added another win to their respective records. Secure in its No.1 spot, the women’s team overpowered No. 2 Kentucky, 13-10, and the men’s team squeezed past their opponent, 9-8, after a deciding shootout round.

Adjusting to an unfamiliar arena, different horses and another group of referees were all challenges the Red faced against Kentucky. The women got off to a slow start and trailed by four at the half, as the Wildcats led the game, 6-2.

“We went down there knowing that it was going to be a really difficult game because we don’t know the arena as well or the horses or the umpiring — there were a bunch of different factors playing in,” said freshman starter Kailey Eldredge.

The Red stayed composed and gained momentum in the third chukker to start bridging the scoring gap.

“We haven’t had to come back from that kind of deficit before, so I was glad that we were able to stay focused and not get down or lose hope. So we proved that we were able to come back,” Eldredge said.

The turning point for Cornell was when the team notched eight goals in the third chukker to challenge the Wildcats’ lead and pull ahead, 10-8, going into the fourth. After figuring out the quirks of playing in a different arena, the Red was able to exploit the size of the arena to its advantage.

“We took advantage of how much room we had to work with so we could take some big shots, some open shots and we got a lot of goals from the field,” Eldredge said.

The Red pulled ahead in the fourth chukker to come away with a 13-10 win.

“Our biggest burst came in the third chukker and then we just stayed on the path of staying focused. The fourth chukker was difficult and we had some harder horses again, but we had gotten to a point where we knew what we had to do and I think we figured out how to play against them,” Eldredge said.

Similarly, the men need some time to adapt to the feel of the larger arena and trailed Kentucky in the first half.

“Every time that we go to Kentucky, we have in our minds what our strategy is but it often takes a little bit of time to adjust to the actual game situation,” said senior starter Max Constant. “Once we were able to adjust to that and how the refs were calling the game, we were able to rethink our strategy a little bit and get back on track.”

The momentum of the game was also influenced by the style of the referees, whose calls at times may have been inconsistent.

“It can be really dangerous and detrimental to a game if you make penalty calls that aren’t actually penalties throughout the course of a game or if you don’t have consistency in the way that you call a game,” Constant said. “It can change the momentum and change the pace of the game and that was a factor this weekend, but thankfully we ended up coming out on top.”

At the close of the first half, the Red was not far behind, trailing Kentucky by one. In the third, Cornell overtook the Wildcats to bring the tally to 7-5 entering the final chukker.

During the match, senior alternate David Dunstan played alongside sophomore Branden Van Loon and Constant. Constant led his team in scoring, adding four points to the board.

The two teams were tied, 8-8, at the end of the fourth, bringing the game into a shootout round to determine the match.

Constant scored the deciding goal during the shootout to secure the 9-8 win for Cornell.

Original Author: Laura Dwulet