Sunday victories by La Herradura (Meghan Gracida, Carlos Hernandez, Memo Gracida and Catlin Dix) and Evergreen (Tom Sprung, Carlitos Galindo, Juan Jo Gonzalez and Shane Rice) will usher them into next Friday’s semifinals of the 8-goal Champions Cup at the Empire Polo Club with 2-0 records.
There was no resting on his laurels for former 10-goaler Memo Gracida as a well-orchestrated La Herradura attack was forced to hold of a determined last chukker rally to register a 13-11 win over REMAX (Dayelle Fargey, Jared Sheldon, Gordon Ross and Matthew Fonseca) in Sunday morning action in the 8-goal Champions Cup at the Empire Polo Club.
“It was a tough game in more ways than the score,” said the Polo Hall of Famer.
Gordon Ross scored the first goal of the game before a pressing La Herradura attack resulted in three consecutive goals. Carlos Hernandez tied the game at 1-1 with his first goal of the day and then put them on top, 2-1, with his second. Gracida scored the final goal of the chukker for a 3-1 La Herradura lead.
Gracida’s second goal of the game came in the second period and extended the La Herradura lead to three goals, 4-1. Jared Sheldon got REMAX on track with a goal from the field and a 40-yard penalty conversion that cut the La Herradura lead down to a single goal, 4-3. Hernandez answered back with a pair of goals of his own (one on a 30-yard penalty shot), 6-3. Sheldon countered with his third goal of the period that had REMAX trailing by two goals, 6-4.
Two more third chukker goals from Gracida and a goal from Hernandez took control of the game while the La Herradura defense held REMAX to a single goal from Sheldon. At the end of the first half it was La Herradura in front, 9-5.
Goals were scarce in the fourth, with Hernandez and Sheldon trading goals for the only scoring in the chukker. After fur periods of play La Herradura continued to hold a four-goal lead, 10-6.
A persistent REMAX gained ground in the fifth on the strength of goals from Dayelle Fargey and Matthew Fonseca. Gracida converted a 60-yard penalty shot for La Herradura, whose lead was cut to three goals, 11-8.
Sheldon converted a pair of penalty shots for goals and Fargey added another from the field in furious sixth period action. Hernandez was up to the task for La Herradura, however, adding two more goals (one on a 40-yard penalty shot) for the 13-11 victory.
Hernandez led the field with eight goals. Gracida added five goals for the win. Sheldon scored a team-high seven goals. Fargey added two goals with Ross and Fonseca each scoring once in the loss.
Evergreen 12, Lockton 7
A powerful Evergreen team continued to have their way with their opponents as they opened up on a talented Lockton lineup (Tim Kelly, Bryan Middleton, Hernan Tejera and Francisco Guinazu) in the feature match of the day but came up short in a 12-7 feature game.
Lockton got off to an aggressive start, scoring the first three goals of the game on their way to a 3-1 opening. Two goals from Francisco Guinazu and a goal from Bryan Middleton had the Lockton team thinking upset before Carlitos Galindo stopped the bleeding with the final goal of the chukker for Evergreen.
Consecutive second period goals from Juan Jo Gonzalez, Galindo and Shane Rice (40-yard penalty goal) had Evergreen on top, 4-3. Middleton scored the final goal of the chukker, leveling the score at 4-4.
Gonzalez and Hernan Tejera traded goals in the third, with Rice adding another penalty conversion to the Evergreen total for a 6-5 lead.
Rice split the goalposts for the third tie on the day for the first goal of the second half and a 7-5 Evergreen lead. There was no quit in Lockton as they rallied with goals from Tim Kelly and Guinazu to deadlock the score at 7-7.
A combination of horsepower and teamwork won the last two chukkers and the game for Evergreen as they outscored Lockton 2-0 in the fifth on goals from Gonzalez and Rice, 9-7.
Three more sixth chukker goals went unanswered as Galindo added two and Rice scored his fifth of the day. A strong defensive effort by Evergreen completely shut down the Lockton attack as they rode on to the 12-7 win.
Rice scored three of his five goals from penalty line. Galindo added four goals and Gonzalez was credited with three goals on the day. Guinazu scored three times for Lockton. Middleton added two goals with Tejera and Kelly adding single goals in a losing effort.
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://empirepolo.com or call 760-342-7755.