This Friday marks the first day of the men’s and women’s USPA Northeastern Intercollegiate Regional Polo Tournament, held at Cornell’s Oxley Equestrian Center. This event and the USPA National Intercollegiate Championships on April 4 are the only two tournaments the men’s and women’s teams will compete in together.
The women’s team plays first — on Saturday — against the winner of the Harvard-Skidmore game. Depending on the outcome, they will also possibly play on Sunday against the winner of the UConn-Alfred State game.
“Going into the weekend, we will really be trying to keep up our communication to effectively execute team plays,” said senior captain Anna Winslow. “We will also be looking to play at a fast pace and work on accurate goal shots from the field. This is how we have been most successful this season.”
This weekend is extremely important because a solid performance could qualify the Red for Nationals. The team is putting in a lot of preparation as a result.
“As a team, we have been practicing with the Cornell men’s team all year, which is great preparation for us because they are fantastic and are always challenging us,” said senior Elena Wicker. “We have also added some extra practices during the semester that focus on specific skills, like foul shots, so we can be as accurate as possible at game time.”
Wicker also emphasized that individual preparation is equally as important.
“On an individual level, my teammates and I are all focused on being healthy, well-rested and on top of our assignments,” she said. “It is always a bit difficult to manage playing in a tournament and keeping up with all of our work.”
There are several weeks separating Regionals from Nationals, so the teams must consider training in the future as well.
“Our long term goal right now is to make it to the national final again this year,” Winslow said. “The short-term is to decisively win the region this week and perform the best we possibly can. The next month will be the most important part of our season this year.”
Although there is some element of mystery as to which teams the Red will play in the tournament, they have certain predictions and expectations.
“For the most part, we know what we will be up against for the regional tournament,” Winslow said. “We met UConn, who is second seed and our biggest competition for the regional title, a couple of weeks ago in their home arena. That said, it is important that we not underestimate our competition going into this weekend.”
Wicker also emphasized that the team should not necessarily be focusing on who it will play but rather on how it should play.
“Regardless of who we will be facing, we are focused on starting the match with a strong first chukker and then maintaining our momentum throughout the game,” Wicker said.
The women’s team has remained confident, despite the pressure that naturally comes at this point in the season. They have trained hard and accomplished a lot.
“I think we are in a great place heading into this tournament,” Wicker said. “We have had an undefeated semester and we are all focused and excited.”
With great records this season, both the men’s and women’s teams should be feeling confident and prepared approaching regionals.