January 26, 2012

POLO | Squads Host SMU at Oxley

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The men’s and women’s teams will open up the latter half of their season this weekend against the Southern Methodist Mustangs. While some members of the two squads felt rusty after going almost a month without practicing, other players hope that after facing SMU they will be competing at the same level they were playing at at the end of last semester. The men’s team will open the weekend at Oxley Equestion Center, playing Friday night, with the women following up on Saturday night.SMU poses somewhat of a mystery for the Red, as this is the first time the two programs will meet. The Mustangs have a young program, only two years old. However, the team’s head coach Tom Goodspeed is well-known in the polo community as an excellent player and coach. Goodspeed coached Cornell junior Connor Pardell in high school, who will be a starter for the men’s team this weekend.“I’m very much looking forward to this match because their coach is the person I learned how to play polo with,” Pardell said.The men’s SMU team has been stronger than the women’s, according to Red head coach David Eldredge ’81. Cornell’s team will look to have the home field advantage, according to Pardell.“They have a bigger arena in Texas and play a more open style, whereas we play bump and run,” he said. “We’re going to try to be more physical and make them work. We want to tire them out and make them play Cornell style polo.”Starters for the men Friday will be Pardell, junior captain Branden Van Loon and freshman Nick Steig. Sophomore Nik Feldman will not be competing as a precautionary measure due to a previous knee injury, according to a team source.The game against SMU will provide the women an opportunity to determine a solid third starter to join senior captain Ali Hoffman and sophomore Kailey Eldredge — the Red’s only two consistent starters this season.“This weekend could be important to see whose going to fit in that third spot,” Eldredge said. “[Senior Amanda Stern] is back from study abroad, so now [there are] five girls competing for this spot. It’s good that it’s competitive because it makes us play really well.”This weekend will give Cornell a chance to practice game play as preparation for upcoming challenges, including regionals at the end of March.“We were very consistent during the first semester,” Hoffman said. “We’re working on stamina and not getting caught up with other teams, but playing our own game.”Communication will be key for both the men’s and the women’s teams.“I think at this point, we want to make sure we’re working well to together, giving communication [and] knowing where we are on the field,” Kailey Eldredge said. “Communication is very important.”“We have a couple young guys coming up, and keeping team chemistry is huge,” Pardell added. “Being able to communicate, keeping a play ahead and being able to anticipate more quickly plays both offensively and defensively are our goals. Communication is the big one.”Since the polo teams did not have organized practice over the break, team members said they had to find ways to stay in shape individually.“Physically we’re going to be a little sore at first,” Pardell said.SMU will be facing the same challenges as the Red in this regard.“There will be some rust that needs to be knocked off,” David Eldredge said. “Both teams are going to be in the same boat, so maybe it will be tougher for them because they will be traveling and we get to take the rust off at home.”

Original Author: Andrea Sielicki