For the eleventh time in UConn polo’s history and for the first time since 2008, the Huskies have taken home a national championship. On Sunday, March 27, 2022, UConn faced off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the final of the US Polo Association Intercollegiate Women’s Division II Championship, winning 15-11. While this is the 11th national title for UConn polo as a whole, it is the eighth for the women’s program.
Six teams were invited to the championship, held at Legends Polo Club in Kaufman, Texas, with both teams that made it to the final earning byes immediately into the semifinal. In order to qualify for the championship, each team had to compete in a regional qualifier, with UConn going through the Northeastern division at Yale’s Polo and Equestrian Center on Feb. 26 and 27. When UC Davis and Michigan State emerged from the championship quarterfinal after dispatching SMU and Skidmore, respectively, UConn beat Davis 8-7 to advance, while Michigan State fell to Texas 9-12.
The Huskies’ roster is made up of senior Rylyn Koger, senior Toni Moore, junior Kylie Dalton, junior Maddie Robicheau and freshman Liz Leudesdorff. They are coached by Anders Carlton, an alum of UConn women’s polo.
In the final match, UConn got off to a strong start, taking a 5-0 lead in the first chukker (a round in polo, there were four in this match) via goals from Koger, Leudesdorff and Dalton. In the second chukker, the Red Raiders came roaring back, with Tatijana Mirski scoring three goals and Lexie Harlan scoring one, with the match going to halftime at 5-4.
After the half, Leudesdorff took over, as she scored seven goals in the third and fourth chukkers. On top of this, Koger scored a two-pointer (a goal from beyond the centerline). The Huskies also got a pony goal, making their final total 15 points on the day. While the Red Raiders were not going to go away quietly, their seven-goal second half (three more from Mirski, two from Mary Kate Ratliff, a penalty conversion and a pony goal) was not enough, as they fell four short.
In an interview with The Daily Campus, UConn captain Koger explained that this was the first year the USPA divided college competitions, and how having the Division II competition allowed for more teams to compete on the national level without having to always compete against larger, more well-resourced programs. On how she feels about her experience with the team and on winning nationals, she said the following:
“I could not be more proud of my team and everything we have accomplished this year. Winning Nationals was an achievement I never thought possible for myself and the second that final buzzer went off, I looked around at my girls and asked, “Did we just win Nationals?” I cannot wait to see their incredible achievements, even after I graduate, because I will always love the UConn polo team.”
UConn plays its home games at the Horsebarn Hill Arena at 3099 Horsebarn Hill Road in Storrs, and fans are welcome to attend.