Lined at center field, horses dug their hooves into the dirt as players gripped the reins tighter in preparation for the ball to drop into play. In the first match up between CSU and Harvard equestrian polo in over five years, the first chukker would determine where these two teams stood against one another.
With a half dozen lead at the end of the first, the Rams took control and set the pace for the remaining three chuckkers (each lasting seven minutes and thirty seconds long).
CSU defeated Harvard 14-7 Friday in the B.W. Pickett Arena. The Rams’ 12-0 lead going into the third chuckker held off the Crimson despite their second half push, improving CSU to 9-1 on the season.
“I think we did pretty well but there is always room for improvement,” captain Kareem Rosser said. “Harvard is really good and I think in the second half we got a little sloppy and we are lucky to come out of that with a win.”
CSU scored two goals in the second half compared to Harvard’s seven. The Crimson took control of the arena as they scored not only on penalty shots, but on several opportunities where Harvard outran CSU.
“We went a little too much into an offensive mind set,” Rosser said. “We slacked off a little and we should have played a little more defense.”
Because CSU was not playing defense, it drew several penalties. With open goal shots given to Harvard as well as several with a goalie, the Crimson took advantage of the Rams’ second half struggle.
“We just started to get sloppy,” Rosser said. “Our horses were also tired, sometimes the horses are really good in the first half and then when the second comes around they are tired which puts a lot more work on us as players. That causes you to control a heavy horse and Harvard continued to fight to the end with us and we can not do let that happen.”
The Rams were kept in the game because of player one Rosser. Designated but not limited to play forward, Rosser scored nine goals and defended the net on the penalties against Harvard. As an all-around player, Rosser succeeds with the support of player two Jared Berg and player three Ryan Hattara.
“We had a change in line-up this semester,” Hattara said. “The more opportunities we have to play together is only going to make us stronger. Tonight was a good game for us.”
If you have not played polo before, try playing golf on a bicycle. This sport is the longest known sport to man and it has its own level of difficulty as players hit a small ball with a wooden mallet.
Equestrian is a hidden gem at CSU especially with the quality of play it does on the national level. The Rams will prepare for regionals in Texas during the last weeks of march.
“It is a good push for us and we are going to try and build off this win,” Rosser said. “We really do not have any room to loose any more games because our next game is a single elimination game. We want to make it back to nationals and a loss is not going to do that.”
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.
Side bar: Polo Breakdown
Penalties: Penalties in Polo vary on the severity. While players do not sit in a penalty box like hockey, opponents are awarded either an open net or penalty shot from the penalty line in a serious penalty or from center field for a lesser infraction.
If the player misses, the ball is then in play, otherwise the ball goes back to the center line in terms of a goal.
Chukkers: Chukkers are equivalent to periods, lasting seven minutes and 30 seconds in length each game has four.
Players: Players on the field are broken down into player 1, the forward; 2, the midfielder; and 3, the defense as it attacks the goal while hitting a small air filled ball, almost like a soccer ball.