I tried to find a quote to add to this opener about winning and losing, or the long tough road of a sport, or something of the like, unfortunately I came up short. Even now, it is difficult to pen words that describe the emotions of losing a long desired goal…something that I’ve experienced before on multiple occasions. If you haven’t guessed by now, the Cornell Women’s Polo team lost out on the national title this past Saturday, in what was a hard fought, emotional battle until the end. We led the entire match by between 1-4 points until the last 30 seconds, when some calls were made against Cornell that allowed UVa to tie the match up on penalty shots. With a tied score, and no time left in regulation play we had to move onto a shoot out against the Cavaliers. A shoot out in polo involves taking unguarded penalty shots from the 25 yard line until one team scores more points during a round than the other. In more detail: each of the 3 players on each team has the opportunity to take a shot, if in one of the rounds a team makes more shots than the other, they are the winners of the match. Unfortunately all three of our players missed their attempts, and the final UVa player made her penalty shot (making the overtime score (0-1). UVa was crowned the US Polo Association National Intercollegiate Champions by 1 point.
I think the most difficult thing about this loss is that it was right there, and the title was ours for the taking. Our team battled through tough chukkers, tough opponents, and were seconds from claiming our title, only to have it slip away from us really by no fault of our own. My long time teammate, Kailey, was playing with a stomach bug that didn’t help her out, yet she still managed to overcome that set back and play a great match. We controlled the entirety of the game, made fabulous plays, and showed the polo world that Cornell was the team to beat. In the end though, we may have been the best team in the country, unfortunately we just weren’t on Saturday.
Obviously my goal was for us to win our national title, to walk away from Texas with one more accolade to throw up on my shelf at home, and finish out my senior year in stride. Life, however, generally has funny plans for us, and in the midst of the teary huddle with my teammates after the match, I was torn from consoling them to watching the victorious riot from the UVa clan. In watching their joy, and looking back at the exhausted sadness that overtook my teammates, I knew that my team would be able bounce back from this, that I would bounce back from this. Whatever power that exists, guides us to an outcome that we will be able to work through, and only those that will be able to learn, work, and succeed in the face of adversity are those that experience it; I firmly believe that. Us Cornellians, we’re fighters- we hold our heads up high, we take life as it comes at us, and we fight onward to bigger and better things…and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So here’s to us, the 2013 National Intercollegiate Runners Up, the fighters.