STORRS, CT — The Texas A&M University Men’s and Cornell University Women’s teams took home the 2016 United States Polo Association (USPA) National Intercollegiate Championship title on Saturday, April 9 at the University of Connecticut’s Horsebarn Hill Arena.
Kicking off the Championship action, the No. 1-seeded Cornell University Women’s team took to the arena to defend its title against a hungry Texas A&M Lady Aggies squad. Cornell attacked fast and early in the first chukker, seeing four combined goals from Elena Wicker and Anna Winslow. Texas A&M refused to roll over without a fight, as Lara Straussfeld tallied a goal and Marissa Wells capitalized on a penalty 3 to keep her squad within two. Cornell’s ferocious attack was stifled to a lone goal by Winslow, as Texas A&M would tack on five more goals to end the second chukker. Both teams fought hard throughout the third chukker, trading goals evenly as Texas A&M held onto its 10-8 lead heading into the final chukker.
With the national title on the line, Cornell came alive, rallying off five unanswered goals to take the lead. Straussfeld’s last minute score kept her team within two, but was ultimately not enough as Cornell would hold on to win 13-11. The victory marks the 14th national title in 29 championship appearances for Cornell – building upon its reputation as the most dominant Women’s collegiate polo program. Following the Championship trophy presentation, Texas A&M’s Wells and Cornell’s Wicker and Winslow were all named National All-Stars for the 2016 USPA National Intercollegiate Championships.
“A great game for the Cornell women, as their composure and experience showed when they did not get rattled at being behind,” said Coach David Eldredge, Cornell University. “They were calm and confident as they entered the fourth and brought home the trophy. They represented Cornell with great sportsmanship and pride. I’m very proud of them.”
“Hats off to the Lady Big Red on a spectacular win today,” said Duncan Huyler, CEO, United States Polo Association and Cornell alumnus. “It was a true team effort, and the women performed exceptionally well against a talented Texas A&M squad.”
After witnessing the Cornell Women’s team set the tournament precedent, Texas A&M and the University of Virginia Cavaliers took the field in the Men’s USPA National Intercollegiate Championship final. The runner-up in last year’s tournament, the Texas A&M Men returned with a vengeance to reclaim what they believe was rightfully theirs. Texas A&M’s Cacho Galindo jumped out of the gate with two goals. Virginia’s Aristide Faggionato followed with a goal, only to have Texas A&M’s Casey Woodfin tack on one of his own. Virginia’s Felipe Gomez caught fire, scoring three to end the first chukker 4-3 in favor of Virginia. Trading off goals in the second chukker, Texas A&M would add on five to Virginia’s four to even the score 8-8 at the half.
Woodfin’s solo heroics with three goals in the third would help keep the match even at 13 apiece heading into the final chukker. Texas A&M’s Christian Aycinena and Woodfin’s combined three-goal effort was answered by a two-goal rally from Virginia late in the final chukker. With merely seconds left on the clock, Texas A&M’s stellar defensive performance proved to be enough to hold on, 16-15, granting the Aggies its ninth national title. Texas A&M’s Galindo and Virginia’s Gomez were both named National All-Stars for their exceptional performances in this year’s tournament.
“Good teamwork and glad we won,” said Coach Mike McCleary, Texas A&M University. “This one was too close for comfort.”
The U.S. Polo Association was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its Member Clubs and Registered Players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions and games, and providing rules, handicaps, and conditions for those tournaments, competitions and games, including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.
Founded in 1890, the United States Polo Association (USPA) is the national governing body for the sport of polo. USPA is currently comprised of almost 300 member clubs with thousands of individual members, and oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information, please visit uspolo.org.