Following their first-place finishes in the regional tournament on March 24, the men’s and women’s polo teams were scheduled to head down to Charlottesville, Va. this past weekend to take on UVA in two highly competitive match-ups. Due to lingering injuries and academic conflicts, though, the Red cancelled the games and took the weekend off from competition.
The Red had intended to use the games against the Cavaliers as preparation for the national tournament, as the UVA men’s team is ranked No. 1 in the nation and the UVA women’s squad is ranked No. 2 — second only to the Red women’s team. The squad will have to take next week off of school for the national tournament, however, and the games against the Cavaliers would have forced the players to miss more classes, putting extra strain on the student athletes.
“Since this wasn’t a required game at all and wasn’t going to mean anything besides it was just a good warm-up [to the national tournament], we decided it wasn’t worth travelling down to Virginia for the matches,” said head coach David Eldredge ’81. “It was better overall for the students.”
The teams will instead return to action this weekend with home matches at Oxley. The men are prepared to take on the Baltimore Polo Club, a team they beat in November by a score of 17-15. The women will face off against the Maryland Polo Club, the only team the women have lost to this season. The women played the MPC in early March after more than a month off of competition, dropping the match in a hearbreaking 18-16 defeat.
“We were a little rusty coming into that one,” Eldredge said. “We weren’t very sharp. Now we’re a whole lot sharper than we were at that point. We’ve been playing, we’ve been competing.”
The women will benefit from the return of freshman Devin Cox, who missed the last contest against the MPC with a strained knee ligament. Cox was one of several Cornell players awarded Northeast Region All-Star honors at the regional tournament.
Following the conclusion of the four regional tournaments, the first round match-ups are officially set for the national tournament. As expected, the men will take on No. 2 Colorado State, a team the Red hopes to gain revenge on, after playing to a tight 24-23 loss earlier in the season. The women, meanwhile, will challenge Washington State University, a team they have not matched up against before.
Eldredge noted that although Washington State is likely to be not quite as strong as the Red, the team cannot take the Cougars lightly, since they must have gotten a spot in the prestigious tournament for good reason.
“They’ve earned their way to the national tournament. … We’re giving them the respect they deserve,” he said. “We’re going to go out and say, ‘here’s what we’ve got, show us what you’ve got.’ Just put it all out on the field and see if they can handle us.”
Original Author: Emily Berman