In the final round of preliminary matches at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club today, Harvard Polo Club defeated Yale University Polo Club by 8 goals to 6, while University of London Polo Club dispatched Stanford Polo Club by 10 goals to 4.5. London and Harvard will join Cambridge and Oxford to contest the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo 2015 – The London Challenge on Saturday; Stanford and Yale will fight it out for fifth place.
In an all-American varsity contest, Harvard took on Yale in the first match of the day. Going into battle for Harvard were Marion Dierickx, Thomas Waite, Aemilia Phillips and J. Paul Meyer. Their opponents Yale comprised Lucinda Denney, Julian Chernyk, Aurora Edington and Chelsea Messinger.
Yale started the match with a four goal cushion but Harvard’s number two Thomas Waite was eager to start chipping away at it, galloping in a score within a minute of the throw in. Yale’s Aurora Edington had other ideas, however, and soon restored her side’s lead with a smart tap-in. A strong run by Harvard captain Marion Dierickx was rewarded with a goal off the stick of Waite halfway through the chukka, with play yo-yoing from one end of the field to the other as the seconds ticked away. Harvard’s Marion Dierickx came closest to scoring, her first shot flashing across the face of goal, and her second, a brilliant back shot, crossing the line a second after the final bell. It wouldn’t count: 5 – 2 to Yale after the first chukka.
Harvard pressure told after a minute of play in the second, Marion Dierickx scoring her second of the match. Harvard kept up their breathless attacking tempo, and despite defensive heroics by Yale’s Aurora Edington, Thomas Waite found a way through for Harvard to move his side within just a single goal of their opponents, the scores 5 – 4 at the halfway stage.
Play resumed with a penalty two to Harvard, but it was relief for Yale as Aemilia Phillips’s shot didn’t quite have the distance. J. Paul Meyer made up for it soon after to level the scores, however, then Thomas Waite set off on an upfield charge, linking with Aemilia Phillips who managed to tuck the ball between the posts and send Harvard into the lead for the first time in the match. Play stopped briefly after Yale substitute Caitlin Miller was unhorsed, but thankfully both player and pony emerged unscathed. Harvard continued to turn the screw after play resumed, and it was J. Paul Meyer who was fastest on to the loose ball after a flurry of goal mouth action, scoring to make it Harvard seven, Yale five.
Yale had to produce something special to take the game to Harvard in the final chukka, and they did, courtesy of a splendid goal by Aurora Edington, galloping at full tilt from her own half and displaying great stick work to keep control of the ball and stroke it between the posts. But despite Yale’s heroics, Harvard’s Marion Dierickx had the last word of the day, scoring with a well taken near-side forehand to make it Harvard eight, Yale six.
In the second match of the day, the form team of the tournament so far, University of London Polo Club, came up against Stanford Polo Club, who had slogged through a difficult defeat against Cambridge. In the saddle for London: Kristina Karailieva, Arthur Cole-Fontayn, James Cooper and Harold Hodges. Meeting the challenge were Laura Kurt, Shivani Torres, Eric Birdsall and Elizabeth Lake. Stanford started with a 4.5 goal cushion to reflect the difference in team handicaps.
London exploded out of the blocks with a marvellous team goal to get the game underway, eventually going in off the stick of James Cooper. Cooper struck again soon after, finishing off a move that was all Harold Hodges. Hodges then got himself on the score board with just over a minute left to play, driving in a fierce penalty shot from sixty yards to make it 4.5 – 3 in Stanford’s favour.
Terrific polo in the second chukka saw hard running from both sides, but it was London who capitalised, Harold Hodges thumping in from a tight angle after two minutes to put his side within half a goal of Stanford. James Cooper and Harold Hodges were linking up brilliantly for London, the former setting up Hodges for his third of the match to make it 5 – 4.5 to London going into half time.
London’s Hodges sat out after the restart allowing teammate James Cooper to really come into his own, his searching long ball picking out teammate Kristina Karailieva to score under pressure. After a tense passage of play, Cooper broke away on a lightning solo charge, zigzagging across the pitch to score with aplomb. The score going into the final chukka, 7 – 4.5 in favour of London.
London reserve player Lucy Hall got herself on the scoreboard at the start of the fourth chukka, before Harold Hodges, back on the field in place of Cooper, added a ninth with a driving charge and shot. And then it was ten, Harold Hodges again proving why he’s the highest goal player in the tournament with another stylish strike. Refusing to bow out gracefully, Stanford kept fighting and forced their best chance of the game with a minute and half left on the clock, but the shot pulled just wide. A near miss by Hodges soon after meant the final scores stood at London 10, Stanford 4.5.
After a well-earned rest day tomorrow, all six times will be back in action on Saturday, contesting the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo 2015 – The London Challenge, along with the fifth-sixth place playoff match.
Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo 2015 – The London Challenge
Day 1 July 21, 2015
Yale vs Oxford 3-10
Cambridge vs Stanford 11-4.5
Day 2 July 22, 2015
London vs Cambridge 0-3.5
Harvard vs Oxford 3-8
Day 3 July 23, 2015
Harvard vs Yale 8-6
London vs Stanford 10-4.5