The club polo team may have come away with only one victory this season, but what a win it was.
After going winless the entire season, the team faced the gargantuan task of facing polo powerhouse Skidmore — who had already defeated the Elis earlier in the season — in the first round of the Eastern Regional Championships held at Cornell last weekend. With a combination of teamwork and up-tempo play, the Bulldogs shocked Skidmore 14-6 to move on to the semifinals and face Cornell, arguably the nation’s best team. The Elis fell to Cornell — who, unlike Yale, recruits polo players — 36-0, but that could not overshadow their tremendous accomplishment in defeating Skidmore.
“The win against Skidmore was fantastic,” head coach Andrew Flint said. “Our region is by far the hardest region in the country. We really beat up on Skidmore.”
The Bulldogs scored the game’s first five goals, and left the skidding Thoroughbreds in shock.
“Skidmore was probably overconfident after beating us earlier in the season,” team captain Elizabeth Livingston ’01 said. “We went in there with the right attitude — we were determined to win.”
The key to the victory was the Bulldogs’ speed.
“We were fast to the ball, and we out-hustled them,” Flint said. “They were not able to keep up with us.”
Alexandra Redding ’02 agreed.
“We were able to play the game a lot faster than they were,” Redding said. “We were better at rotating and faster than the other team.”
Livingston’s performance this season earned her the region’s most improved female player honors. But the victory over Skidmore exhibited the improvement of the entire team from the beginning of the season, which Livingston credits to the team’s tough schedule.
“We played against the best teams in the country all season,” she said. “We really improved a lot.”
Livingston will graduate this spring, but Redding and a handful of sophomores will return next season poised to continue building upon their accomplishments.
“[Defeating Skidmore] has given us a great boost of confidence heading into next year,” Redding said. “This is unprecedented success.”
Next season, the men’s team — which did not compete this season — should see some competitive matches, led by Daniel Powell ’02 and William Hsu ’03. And as for the women, Flint is optimistic.
“I think they will build on this success. — I think they will shock a few people,” he said.
And Livingston — even though she won’t be on the team — shares Flint’s optimism.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “They have a very good team to look forward to. Everyone has gotten better in the course of this season.”