ITHACA, N.Y. – The Cornell women’s polo team will officially return to action when it kicks off the 2021-22 season against Melinda’s Prospect on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Oxley Equestrian Center in Ithaca, N.Y.
The contest will mark the Big Red’s first game since Feb. 29, 2020, in what was an 18-5 victory over Skidmore, before the season came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19. The Big Red finished the 2019-20 season with a 15-5 overall record, having won nine of its last 10 contests when the remainder of the season was canceled.
Cornell has squared off against Melinda’s Prospect in each of the last two seasons in which it has competed, with each team winning one meeting. Melinda’s Prospect picked up a 17-13 victory on Feb. 16, 2019 after leading by three at the half and going on a 6-2 run to put the Big Red in a 15-8 hole entering the final chukker from which it could not recover. The Big Red avenged this loss during the 2019-20 season, securing a 12-11 victory over Melinda’s Prospect the last time the two teams met on Oct. 18, 2019.
The Big Red will be led this season by Branden Van Loon ’13, The Peter B. Orthwein ’68 Head Coach of Polo, who enters his fourth year at the head of both the men’s and women’s programs. Van Loon has posted a 21-12 career record with the women since he took over the program in December of 2018, guiding the team to the Eastern Regional Title in 2018-19.
Cornell returns 16 student-athletes from the 2019-20 roster, including seniors Rachel Booth, Daisy Fenwick, Abby Fisher, Valeria Marques Valdivia, and Meghan Raucher. Juniors Alice Buckley, Kathleen Clifford, Katherine Cornett, Ella de Bruijn, Angela DiMauro, Ellie Finch, Lea Jih-Vieira, Sophie Kofsky, Laura Miranda, Annie Rogers, and Jasmine Umrigar all bring a year of playing experience to the table.
A few student-athletes will have the opportunity to put on the Cornell uniform for the first time this season, including Shae Baze, Samantha Chan, and Dana Matusewicz.