Adrian Boteanu/Sun File Photo

Men's polo dominated Harvard 16-7, jumping out to a 7-0 lead after the first chukker.

November 12, 2021

Men’s Polo Team Wins Two Events, Women’s Team Loses a Nailbiter

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On Saturday, Oct. 30, the Cornell men’s polo team had two victories against Gardnertown Polo Club and Harvard University while the women’s polo team narrowly lost to Maryland University. The men first beat Harvard 16-7 in Cambridge, Massachusetts then bested Gardnertown 17-11 at Oxley Equestrian Center on the same day.

In the victory over Harvard, the trio of junior Alexander Dawson, junior Pablo Herrera and sophomore Taylor Palacios suited up to play the Crimson. The Red dominated early, scoring seven goals in the first chukker, four from Herrera and three from Palacios, while holding Harvard scoreless.

In the second chukker, Palacios scored three more goals. Herrera tacked on three additional goals in the third chukker and Palacios scored another three goals in the fourth chukker, enough to beat Harvard 16-7. Palacios ended the contest with a game-high nine goals and Herrera had seven, both of which matched their season highs. 

Against Gardnertown, the Red quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead, featuring goals by sophomore Nick Paciorek, junior Patricio Fraga-Errecart and a two-piece by sophomore Santiago Valenzuela. Senior Muzammil Rizwan made his collegiate debut, knocking in a pair of goals later in the contest. 

The Red went on to finish the game by outscoring Gardnertown 7-2 in the fourth chukker, cementing the 17-11 win and propelling the team to a 6-1 record this season. Fraga-Errecart would go on to score a match-high and season-high eight goals, five of which came in the fourth chukker. 

Fraga-Errecart attributed his own success, and the success of the team as a whole, to improvements in team chemistry.

“Something that has been improving through our practices and through our games so far this semester is just being more comfortable with each other and getting better with communication,” Fraga-Errecart said. 

Although they played well in the games against Harvard and Gardnertown, the team will have to continue their hard work and preparation to succeed in the upcoming Bill Field Invitational, a four-day tournament held at the Oxley Equestrian Center from Thursday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 21.

“I think we will have the tools to win the tournament but it will not be easy,” Fraga-Errecart said.

The women’s polo team suffered a close 15-14 loss on Friday, Nov. 5, against Maryland University at the Oxley Equestrian Center. 

Even with important contributions from junior Jasmine Umrigar, who scored five goals in the game, the team’s effort was not enough to overcome a narrow loss to Maryland. The Red fought its way back into the game from a three-point deficit in the fourth chukker, coming up just short at the end of game.

Junior Sophia Neis staged the late-game comeback for the Red, scoring three consecutive goals to cut Cornell’s deficit from four down to one. The team’s efficient pacing of themselves and their horses allowed them to mount a comeback at the very end of the game.

“By the time we get to the end of the game, the horses are tired and we’re tired. Packing all of that energy into an appropriate horse and rider combination allows you to play the game as effectively as possible, which I think the girls definitely did,” said junior Annie Rodgers. 

The women’s polo team will be back in action this weekend, with their next event being held at the Oxley Equestrian Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday night against the University of Connecticut.