March 8, 2012

POLO | Cornell Hosts Texas A&M in Final Match of Regular Season

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It’s almost that time of year again that the polo teams work for all season, as the clock ticks down until the regional and national tournaments. This weekend the Red hosts its last regular season games, as both teams head into the regional tournament after spring break. On Friday night, the men go up against Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m., with the women competing at the same time the following evening at the Oxley Equestrian Center.

Coming off a week of rest, the women’s squad looks to use this game as a way to focus on the little things in the team’s game strategy before entering regional play, according to sophomore Kailey Eldredge.

“Overall, play and communication is a lot better … Our execution and minor details of hitting and aiming properly and hitting at every opportunity we can possible hit at,” she said. “I think really just our execution is really important. We need to fine tune that before we go into tournament play.”

The squad’s break from competition has given the players the mental breather they needed at this point in the long season, according to head coach David Eldredge ’81.

“There’s sometimes you get going in the year and you actually need a little break to kind of reset things and get your head right and come back out and go at it with a fresh attitude,” he said.

This weekend will be the first face-off this season for Cornell against Texas A&M; however, it will not be the last. The Aggies will travel to Ithaca this weekend, with the Red taking to the road and heading down south to compete at Texas’ home arena a week after the regional tournament.

“It will be nice to see them first on our horses in our arena before we go down and see them,” Kailey Eldredge said.

David Eldredge asserts that Texas will be a competitive match for both teams.

“We feel it’s going to be good competition; we feel they should be pretty close to what Kentucky was, a good competitive game, so that’s what we’re hoping for,” the coach said of the A&M men’s team. On the women’s side, David Eldredge predicts that Texas A&M will take second in the central region to Colorado State.

“We think that they are in the mix in the central region, they should come in second in that central region,” he said. “They could come in first, but Colorado State is the favorite. They’re definitely a competitive squad.”

The men are rearing to come back after suffering two consecutive losses, falling first to UVA, 28-4, and then last weekend coming up short against Kentucky, 15-14. Junior Connor Pardell noted the importance of Friday night’s game on the chances for a national wild card position.

“[Texas A&M is] definitely a good quality team and I think that this team will have great indications for the national tournament,” he said. “By winning this game we increase our chances for the wildcard spot if we don’t win the regional.”

Pardell also mentioned that the Red plans to use this game as a way to work on improving team trust, which he says he believes will enhance the squad’s overall play.

“That’s the biggest issue right now. … We don’t trust each other to make the right shots and to make the right plays in the game, so we’re not playing as a cohesive unit, and we fall at the end of the game because we don’t play together,” he said. “We have to believe in ourselves and help each other out, especially when playoffs come, because there’s going to be those close games where you really have to pull them out.”

According to Pardell, the men want to use Texas A&M’s playing style to Cornell’s advantage.

“We want them to play our polo, and make them be more physical because we practice being more physical and we are better at playing more physically,” he said. “I think that slowing things down a bit and making them work a bit harder, we will be able to have a better chance of winning this game.”

After facing two tough losses and with this being the last game before the regional tournament, the men are excited to make this game a turnaround point, according to David Eldredge, who noted that time is running out for the season.

“The men really want to get things back together and get going,” he said. “It’s heading down to crunch time here.”

Original Author: Andrea Sielicki