Polocrosse Coming to Pinehurst This Weekend
Hoofs will be pounding and racquets will be flying when nearly 100 polocrosse players from across the nation arrive in Pinehurst for the annual Carolina Classic Polocrosse Tournament this weekend.
The event is hosted by the Carolina Polocrosse Club at the Pinehurst Harness Track and will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15.
Several members of the USA World Cup Team, including Carolina club member Ryan Murphy, of Greensboro, will be playing for their home clubs and preparing to compete at the 2011 Polocrosse World Cup this July in the U.K. Murphy is a veteran player and was a member of the U.S. squad at both previous World Cup tournaments in 2003 and 2007 in Australia.
Murphy and CPC head coach Rahul Desai are bringing along a lot of young local talent in the Carolina Polocrosse Club. CPC members Andrew Diemer, 20, of Raeford, Evan Vallee, 16, of Vass, and Emma Bellet, 17, of Charlotte, who are also active in Pony Club, have been selected, along with five other players and two alternates, to represent the USA in an international Pony Club exchange occurring alongside the World Cup competition in July.
They will play teams from such nations as Canada, Ireland, Australia and the U.K. CPC member Sarah Ferebee has been chosen as the team manager.
Polocrosse, a fast-paced team sport with players mounted on horseback, combines elements of both polo and lacrosse. Each team has three players on the field: a scorer, midfielder and defender, called the Number One, Two and Three, respectively.
Players use round lacrosse-style racquets to scoop up, toss, catch and carry a four-inch soft rubber ball.
The field is 160 yards long by 60 yards wide with a 30-yard scoring area at each end where only the Number One of the attacking team and the Number Three of the defending team are allowed to enter. One of the complexities of the game is that the ball must not be carried into the scoring area.
A player should either receive the ball as a pass from a teammate, or if carrying the ball down the field himself, must bounce the ball across the 30-yard penalty line and catch it after crossing the line. Teams have six players divided into three-man sections that play in alternating periods called chukkas.
Games consist of either six 6-minute chukkas or four 8-minute chukkas.
One big difference from polo is that players must ride the same horse for the entire tournament, whereas polo players switch out horses frequently. This makes polocrosse much more accessible for families, and makes the riding skill of an individual player more important than age or physical build.
Even at the highest levels of competition, men and women compete on the same team. Horses can be any breed, but most players choose agile mounts about 15-16 hands high who are comfortable with close contact from other horses.
CPC has several families with parents and siblings competing in various divisions at this weekend’s tournament. Play begins at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday morning and continues through 5 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.
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