Dave Carlson made an auspicious debut in Holiday Cup play at the Empire Polo Club as he scored the first goal of the tournament for Ocean Air/Backshot Ranch (Dave Carlson, Shannon Mendez, Ashton Wolf and Alonso Andrade) but it was Pheasant Hollow (Debra Vermoch, Cameron Smith, Tim Rudy and Suki Piper) that made the opening statement.
Two goals from Tim Rudy and a goal from Cameron Smith ended the first chukker with Pheasant Hollow on top of a 3-1 score.
Rudy’s third goal of the two-chukker mini-match had Pheasant Hollow in the lead by three goals, 4-1, before Ocean Air/Backshot Ranch was heard from again. A single goal from Shannon Mendez closed out the period with Pheasant taking the first two chukkers of the day, 4-2.
A determined Ocean Air/Backshot Ranch team held the field for the ensuing two chukkers against a new look Granite Bay lineup (Julie Fernandez, Caroline Anier, Eric Hammon and Goyo Mariscal).
Mendez scored the first goal of the contest from the field and added a 40-yard penalty goal for the early lead. A disciplined defense held Granite Bay scoreless. After their first chukker of lay, Granite Bay trailed, 2-0.
Another 40-yard penalty conversion from Mendez accounted for all of the scoring in the second chukker. Ocean Air/Backshot Ranch recorded their first win of the day, 3-0, and leveled their record at 1-1.
Pheasant Hollow returned to the field for the final two chukkers of the round-robin to face a struggling Granite Bay foursome.
Rudy scored the first goal of the chukker followed by back-to-back goals from Smith. For the third straight chukker Granite Bay was unable to get on the scoreboard, falling behind, 3-0.
Rudy rang up two more goals in the final period, extending the lead to five goals, 5-0. Goyo Mariscal kept Granite Bay from being shutout with the final goal of the day, but it was Pheasant Hollow with the 5-1 win.
Round-robin play will continue on Saturday, December 23 at 11AM on Field 7 for the final six chukkers of play. Pheasant Hollow appears to be in the driver’s seat with a 4-3 advantage over Ocean Air/Backshot Ranch and a 5-1 lead against Granite Bay.
Pheasant Hollow had captured the Desert Challenge and the Coyote Classic before losing in Jackalope Cup play. A strong finish would give them three of the month’s four tournament titles.
Pheasant Hollow, Ocean Air/Backshot Ranch and Granite Bay will play one another for an additional two chukkers apiece on Saturday with the totals of their head-on-head competition added together for the final standings. The team with the best record will be declared the winner.
The Holiday Cup is the Empire Polo Club’s final tournament of the month with the Stagecoach Challenge being played on Opening Day/Hat Day on Sunday, December 31st.
The 2017-2018 Empire Polo season attracts players from across the country and around the world and offers fourteen weekends of fast-paced polo in the beautiful and relaxed setting of California’s winter playground.
The Empire Polo Club is located at 81-800 Avenue 51 in Indio, CA. For further information go to the club website at http://www.empirepolo.com or call 760-342-7755.