Poway Polo Club features only girl competing in national tournament

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SAN DIEGO -- Four players on the Poway Polo Club's Interscholastic Varsity team will look to bring home a national title this week for the first time in 17 years when they head to Cornell University for the National Interscholastic Polo Championship.

"I play like a girl," said Niki Mobtaker, a junior who plays the number three position. "I play fierce, I play with strength and I play to win."

Mobtaker says she plays polo because she loves how active and aggressive the sport can be. She's also the only girl who will be competing on any team at nationals.

"I don't really think about it because all in all, I'm just a player there," said Mobtaker. "My hair is tied up, no one can really see that I'm a girl."

After winning their regional round, the Varsity team earned a spot at nationals where they'll compete against three other teams from across the country.

"I'm really excited," said Skyler Dale, a senior who plays the number two position. "I get to travel all the way to Cornell, check out a great university, play some polo with some of my best friends and hopefully we win."

The club hasn't won the national title since 2001 when Shane Rice, currently a professional polo player, was on the team.

"This team right now is a very talented team," said Rice. "Very, very good kids that want to work hard. Probably one of the rawest talented teams we've had out of Poway in a few years."

"We work really well together and we just click and ended up winning," said Dale.

The team will play four chukker's, six and half minutes in length and after missing out the past two years, the team says they know the competition will be stiff.

"You have to be smart with your plays and how you're getting the ball and how you're defending," said Mobtaker. "But you can't think too much because then you'll get in your head."

As someone who's been there and knows what it takes to succeed, Rice's advice to these high schoolers is simple.

"Drink it up, enjoy it while you can, enjoy the friendships but at the end of the day, when you're there, you're there to do one thing and it's perform," said Rice. "We want them to succeed but it's not going to be easy."

And this team wouldn't have it any other way

The Varsity team will take on Maryland at two o'clock Pacific time. If they win, they automatically advance to Sunday's round to play in the championship game.

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