This story was written and submitted by Anthony Condo. It was NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com.

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For 29 minutes and 3 seconds of the 30 minute match, it looked as if the Cornell Interscholastic Girls polo team might be bounced from the Northeastern Regional Tournament finals hosted in their own home arena on a bitterly cold and snowy Valentine’s Day.

After trailing for nearly the entire game, sophomore Freida Witmer scored the go-ahead goal with under a minute to play secured the 13-12 victory over Cedar Valley (Toronto, ON).  With the win the Cornell team qualifies to compete in the National Interscholastic Polo Championship to be held at the EmpirePolo Club in Indio, CA, March 4 – 6.

The Cornell Girls Interscholastic team accepts their Northeastern Regional Championship trophies at Oxley Equestrian Center in Ithaca, NY. Pictured are Coach Olivia Barton, Anna Ullmann, Kyra Umrigar, Freida Witmer, Ruth Witmer, and Coach Chris Van Loon. The team will represent Cornell at the National Interscholastic Polo Championships at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA, March 4 – 6. (Photo Credit: Anthony Condo)

The girls came out a bit flat mostly due to nervousness, and found themselves looking up at the scoreboard at a 10-4 halftime deficit.  The tides slowly began to turn in their favor when senior Anna Ullmann converted a 2-point penalty shot and narrowed the lead to 11-8, helping ignite the Cornell rally.

The final period was tense and fast-paced, with both teams playing an up-and-down defensive battle, and Cornell knotting the game at 12 with just over a minute left in regulation.  Cornell worked hard to get the ball down into their offensive zone with under a minute to play, and the ball was popped into the goal by #1 Freida Witmer with 57 seconds left to secure the win.

Leading the way was Anna Ullmann with 5 goals, fellow senior Ruth Witmer had 4, Freida Witmer had 2 goals, and the ponies contributed 2 goals  to the effort.

The Interscholastic Girls team fielded by the Cornell Polo Club consists of local youth ages 12 and up who reside within a 100 mile radius of the home arena.

This year’s team members include 5 girls all residing in the Ithaca area.  Competing for the team this weekend and who will represent the team at the National Tournament are:  Anna Ullman (12th grade, Ithaca), Kyra Umrigar (12th grade, Lehman ACS), Freida Witmer (10th grade, Ithaca), and Ruth Witmer (12th grade, Ithaca).

In a light-hearted pregame moment, Cornell Girls Interscholastic players (L-R) Freida Witmer, Anna Ullmann, and Ruth Witmer pose for the camera prior to their exciting 13-12 last-minute victory over Cedar Valley (Toronto, ON) (Photo Credit: Maria Russell)

The players are coached by David Eldredge, Cornell’s Peter B. Orthwein Head Coach of Polo; Anthony Condo, who organizes the Cornell Interscholastic program; and two local Cornell Interscholastic team alums who serve as Assistant Coaches:  Olivia Barton and Chris Van Loon.

Regional tournament participants included teams from Toronto, Cedar Valley, Cornell, and Gardnertown (Newburgh, NY).  

The Cornell players start practice in October on Wednesday nights, practicing one night a week, and then host a slate of 6 to 7 home matches during the winter intersession. Games played against Northeastern regional opponents qualify them for postseason play.  The teams may consist of all boys or mixed boys and girls teams (Open Division), or teams of all girls players (Girls Division).

Area students with riding experience who would like to learn more about the Interscholastic program are encouraged to contact Anthony Condo at Anthony.M.Condo@gmail.com for more information.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.