February 13, 2012

WOMEN’S POLO | Squad Tops Alumni Team

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The women’s current roster defeated a national championship winning Cornell alumni team, 17-8, on Saturday night at the Oxley Equestrian Center. The alumni team featured graduates from 2004 and 2005, who won a combined total of four national titles.

The first half started out a little slow for the Red. The alumni team scored the first goal, and Cornell answered back with two of its own. By the end of the first chukker, Cornell outscored the alumni, 5-3. By halftime, the women ended with just a two-goal lead, as each team added three more goals to its total. Cornell really pulled ahead in the third chukker, scoring five more goals and shutting down the alumni team from scoring additional points. A third chukker push has been typical of the Red this season, according to head coach David Eldredge ’81.

“It seems to be somewhat statistical of our teams that they will come out after half time after they make adjustments to make a big push in the third chukker,” he said. “The third chukker is really showing to be a make or break chukker for us.”

The fourth chukker mirrored the third chukker offensively, as Cornell tallied four points and held the alumni team to two. Sophomore Kailey Eldredge scored 12 goals, senior captain Ali Hoffman added four and a horse even kicked one in.

The alumni players, who competed under David Eldredge when they attended Cornell, had a very similar playing style to the current team, which made for an interesting challenge, according to Hoffman.

“They made pretty much all the exact same plays we would have made, had we been playing against ourselves, so it was kind of funny,” she said. “They knew exactly what we were going to do, so there was no fooling them.”

Senior Amanda Stern felt that to beat the alumni, the Red had to be quicker on the field.

“It was more of a mental challenge,” she said. “We had to try to be a little bit quicker in certain plays because we knew they would react as we would. We needed to make split second decisions and react quicker.”

Last week, against Garrison Forrest, the squad experienced trouble from changing up the positioning between Hoffman and Kailey Eldredge. According to Hoffman, Saturday’s game was an improvement.

“We play very well in those specific roles and when we switch you can tell; it’s very unconscious on our part, but when it happens it really messes up the entire game,” she said. “It was much better.”

The Red improved its communication and positioning compared to last week’s game against Garrison Forrest, according to David Eldredge.

“The communication was better, there is no question about that,” the head coach said. “During the week we were able to get to the core of the problem and they were feeling much more comfortable in this game playing in their positions.”

Although the team had a slow first half, Stern said part of it had to do with the squad being ill.

“All three of us had been sick, so we didn’t have complete clarity of thought, not 110 percent of our A game,” she said. “In the second half, I picked up a bit more in terms of aggression and being more assertive and aggressive than when I initially came out.”

Defeating previous national champions gives the team a good look at where Cornell stands in its goal of performing well at nationals, according to David Eldredge.

“It means good things for us; it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “Everything is a building process and we did some of these building blocks in the fall, but Amanda wasn’t here in the fall, and she is here now, so now we’re cramming a couple months of time into a month of time before our regional tournament.”

Stern agrees that playing the alumni team meant good things for the Red.

“The fact that we were able to hold our own, instigate plays and play as team shows only good things for the future games.”

Original Author: Andrea Sielicki