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Polo teams wins it again
By Renu Sehgal
April 25, 1997
"It's good to win. I'm very proud of the team. They overcame a lot of difficulties this year," said Jim Dinger, the UConn coach for the past 11 years. "We have three of the top players in the country - they're at another level, like our women's basketball team."
The championship game was held at the Brushy Creek Ranch in Burleson, Texas, capping an eventful season. All three of the starting team members suffered physical setbacks, threatening to derail the defending champions' quest for another title.
Kim Morgan, a junior animal science major from Springfield, Mass., was involved in a car accident early in the season, keeping her off the field for a month. Meg Dinger, a senior animal science major from Willington and the coach's daughter, injured her shoulder and was unable to play for more than three months. Alicia Wells, a junior majoring in renewable natural resources from Sykesville, Md., became ill three weeks before the national tournament and was unable to practice until the week before the tournament.
Fortunately, transfer Jen Freed came in to help the team finish the season successfully. Freed, a junior animal science/resource economics major from Sherman, left Cornell to join UConn. The team finished with a 13-2 regular season record, 16-4 overall.
The 1996-97 season was strangely similar to last season, Dinger said. UConn dominated every team it faced until losing to Cornell in the John Ben Snow Tournament by one goal in the last 16 seconds. Without Meg Dinger, UConn faced Cornell again in the eastern regional finals, losing by one goal in overtime. UConn gained entrance into the final four as a wildcard. But UConn's two All-Americans, Meg Dinger and Wells, were not at full strength.
In the national tournament, UConn defeated Virginia, the southeast regional champions, 19-10. In the other national semi-final, Cornell beat Stanford to face off for a fifth and final time this season against UConn.
In ceremonies after the game, Wells and Meg Dinger were elected members of the 1997 National All-American Women's Polo Team, receiving the first and second highest vote totals respectively. Both they and Morgan were named to the All-East Women's Polo Team. Meg Dinger was the high scorer during the tournament, with 15 goals.
The men's varsity polo team finished the season with an 8-5 record.