Looking ahead to the Northeast Regionals, the Red appears to be in good shape after outdueling Texas A&M in this weekend’s matchup. The men’s polo team (11-4) improved its record after Friday’s win over the Aggies, 19-13, earning a fifth straight win.
According to sophomore Branden Van Loon, playing the Aggies was a good opportunity for Cornell to gauge the opponent’s style of play, especially considering that the Red could face Texas A&M again in the context of national competition.
“They’re definitely a national contender,” Van Loon said. “It was a good experience because we haven’t had a chance yet to play Texas A&M this year, and their team was pretty different this year than it was last year because they lost two of their players. It was nice to get that knowledge down as far as what their playing style is and what we can do against them so that, should we meet them in the future, we’ll have a good idea of how to handle it.”
One of the greatest challenges for the Red was Texas A&M’s quick pace of play.
“It was a very fast-paced game and both teams were running hard. Both our squad and the Texas A&M squad came out of the gates running and just didn’t stop,” Van Loon added.
The Red was able to keep pace with the Aggies early, ending the first half in the lead, 9-4.
“We had a bit of a rough patch … in the second chukker, we got out of our game and played more of their game style,” said head coach David Eldredge. “In the third chukker we had a small let-down for some reason, and it allowed the A&M team to get closer to us, but I was very happy to see that the guys were able to step it back up in the last chukker and pull away.”
Senior captain Max Constant led the team on offense, nocking in 12 of the Red’s 19 goals in the contest, while Van Loon added six to Cornell’s tally. Despite the fact that his horse’s saddle was slipping off during the final seconds of play, Van Loon managed to notch the final goal of the evening.
“In that last play, I had no foot in my left stirrup … and even with the tack properly put on, the saddle shifted a little bit. I put the goal in and then had to throw myself back onto the left side of the horse and grab the horse’s neck,” Van Loon explained.
On the women’s side, the Red (16-0) remained undefeated after nearly doubling up the Aggies, 19-10. Like the Texas A&M men’s squad, the women’s team also brought quick-paced play to its bout with Cornell.
“[Texas A&M is] a very physical team and depend a lot on hustle, though they have talent as well,” Eldredge said. “They really push you to the limits because of their hustle, and they just don’t stop. That was something that we needed to adjust to.”
The Red successfully made those adjustments. Pulling a head with a comfortable lead, 14-7, after coming into the half ahead by a narrow margin, 7-5.
“The third period seems to be a big period for us during games. We’ve done very well this year in third chukkers coming out of the half time, in terms of adjusting to what the other team is doing and not allowing them to adjust to us,” Eldredge said.
The Aggies’ style of isolating key players worked to the Red’s advantage this weekend, due to the depth in Cornell’s lineup. Freshman Kailey Eldredge led the way with nine goals, while senior captain Lizzie Wisner added six and junior Ali Hoffman notched three.
“[Texas A&M tries] to take out your best player and move forward in trying to beat you that way,” Eldredge said. “With us having a more balanced attack that is something that works well for us because we don’t depend on just one person to do it all, whereas they’re trying to depend upon one person to really make all of the plays.”
Original Author: Laura Dwulet