The significance of late game mentality was showcased by both the men’s and women’s polo teams over the weekend at the Oxley Equestrian Center. The men managed a close 21-20 victory over the Westmont Warriors, while the women were unable to defeat Garrison Forest, falling 14-12.The men experienced a breakthrough against Westmobt, coming back from behind in the fourth chukker to go into a shootout. The Cornell men (6-4) started out slow, allowing the Warriors to take a 5-3 lead early in the first chukker. By halftime, each team had roughly doubled their score, ending the second chukker, 11-6, in favor of Westmont. Going into the fourth chukker, Cornell gained ground, but the Warriors were unstoppable, as both added five more goals to their team totals. With only one chukker left, five goals was a tough deficit to come back from, according to head coach David Eldredge ’81.“We went into the fourth chukker down by five goals,” he said. “You’re still in the game, but it’s a hell of a climb. It’s like climbing up Buffalo Street when it’s covered in black ice.”Despite the difficulty, the men were able to tie the game, scoring three goals in the last minute and a half of the final chukker. Regulation play ended with the score tied, 20-20, so the teams moved into a shootout. In the first shootout, senior captain Branden Van Loon scored, in addition to one Westmont player, forcing the game into a second round shootout. The match finally ended when junior Connor Pardell and freshman Nick Steig each made his shot and the second shooter for the Warriors missed.The difference between this game and previous games was the team effort given in the latter half, according to Van Loon.“Not one of us individually were going to win that game, the only way we would win is if we played together and sacrificed ourselves to the team,” he said. “It was a little bit of a turning point feeling — it was definitely a feeling that I think will continue throughout the rest of the semester.”For the Cornell women (6-4), the game pace was reversed — starting fast and a gradually slowing down, according to senior captain Ali Hoffman.“I think we started off strong and came out of the gate much better than in past games,” she said. “At that point we were all still a little bit out of shape from being on break, and I definitely think it showed. They were able to outrun and out-hustle us.”Cornell took a quick 4-1 lead in the first chukker, but Garrison Forrest was able to tie everything, 6-6, at halftime. Garrison took the lead in the third chukker and held onto it for the rest of the game. Even with multiple scoring opportunities, the Red was unable to turn shots into goals to even the game.“We had our chances in this match, it was just one of those days,” David Eldredge said. “[Sophomore Kailey Eldredge] had shots that were going inches wide of the goal this week.”The head coach said that positioning was a bit of a problem for the women in this match, as Hoffman and Kailey Eldredge switched positions.“One of the things we had a bit of a problem with was changing in our lineup,” he said. “It worked really well with Kailey at one and Ali at three, but it ended up that they got swapped in their positions, and we’re not as successful when that happens.”Hoffman said that if the Red had played Garrison closer to regional play, the final result might have gone in Cornell’s favor.“Had the game been in later March, the outcome probably would have been a little bit different,” she said.The women will have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend against a team from Baltimore, while the men take a week off and prepare for a match against Skidmore in two weeks time.
Original Author: Andrea Sielicki