Former 10-goaler and Polo Hall of Fame legend Memo Gracida took center stage on Sunday afternoon at the Empire Polo Club and led his La Herradura team (Alvaro Fernandez, Rodrigo Fernandez, Isaac Sepulveda and Memo Gracida) to an 8-7 win over Granite Bay (Eric Hammon, Alvaro Tadeo, Marcos Llambias and Rhandy Heredia) in the second round of play in the 2018 General Patton 8-goal Cup.
In a well-orchestrated opening chukker La Herradura scored three straight goals while holding Granite Bay scoreless for the early lead. Isaac Sepulveda scored the first goal of the game followed by a 40-yard penalty conversion from Gracida, 2-0. Rodrigo Fernandez scored the closing goal of the period to move in front, 3-0.
The Las Herradura defense held solid again in the second. Sepulveda scored the only goal of the chukker, however, extending the La Herradura advantage to four goals, 4-0.
Gracida’s second goal of the match came on a 30-yard penalty shot in the third chukker, when the Granite Bay attack stirred. Alvaro Tadeo scored the first goal of the day for Granite Bay, followed by a goal from teammate Eric Hammon. The first half ended with Gracida and company in control of a 5-2 game.
Both defenses stiffened as the second half got underway. Rodrigo Fernandez scored to make it 6-2, with Marco Llambias responding with a goal for Granite Bay. After four periods of play, La Herradura continued to control the game behind a 6-3 advantage.
Goals continued to elude players on both sides in the fifth. Alvaro Fernandez scored for La Herradura with Tadeo countering with a goal from Granite Bay. After five periods of play, La Herradura continued to hold a three-goal advantage over Granite Bay, 7-4.
Gracida’s third goal of the day came from the field in sixth chukker action and put La Herradura up by four goals, 8-4, when the Granite Bay offense rallied. Two goals from Llambias and a goal from Tadeo brought Granite Bay to within a goal of the lead, but that would be as close as they would get as the La Herradura defenders held on to secure the 8-7 victory.
Gracida led the La Herradura attack with three goals (two on penalty conversions). Rodrigo Fernandez and Sepulveda each scored twice, and Alvaro Fernandez added a goal for the win. Tadeo and Llambias each scored three times for Granite Bay. Hammon was credited with a goal in the loss.
The win lifted the La Herradura tournament record to 1-1 while Granite Bay remained winless in two outings (0-2).
Spindrift 9, Cotterel 8
In morning 8-goal Patton Cup action, Spindrift (John Bickford, Luis Saracco, Juan Curbelo and Leslie Tims) won their second game of the tournament with a 9-8 nail-bitter over Cotterel (Jenny Luttrell, Ruben Coscia, Francisco Benardoni and Gaby Saccullo).
The 7-goal Cotterel team received one goal by handicap from Spindrift but watched as they were out-scored from the field in the opening minutes of the match. A goal from John Bickford and a pair of goals from Juan Curbelo gave the early lead to Spindrift, 3-1.
The two teams traded goals in the second with Cotterel getting single goals from Ruben Coscia and Jenny Luttrell. Spindrift matched them goal for goal with Curbelo scoring for the third time and Luis Saracco getting on the scoreboard for the first time on the day. Spindrift continued to lead, 5-3.
Saracco added two more goals in the third while a resolute Spindrift defense held Cotterel to a single penalty goal from Coscia. At the end of the first half, Spindrift had expanded its lead to three goals, 7-4.
Coscia struck first in the fourth, cutting the Spindrift lead back to two goals, 7-5, but the Spindrift attack was pressuring the Cotterel goal. Fouls proved to be costly for the Cotterel defenders as Bickford took advantage of the opportunity to convert two 30-ayrd penalty shots for goals. After four chukkers the Spindrift lead had grown to four goals, 9-5.
A determined Coscia took the field in the fifth and quickly scored two goals for Cotterel. A solid defensive effort shut down the Spindrift attack, cutting the lead to a manageable two goals, 9-7, with one chukker of play remaining in regulation time.
Cotterel continued to press the attack in the sixth, with Coscia converting a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, when the Spindrift defense held firm. Time expired in the 9-8 Spindrift win with Cotterel pressuring the Spindrift goal.
Bickford, Curbelo and Saracco scored three goals apiece for the win. Coscia was high-scorer of the game with six goals. Luttrell added a goal and the team received one goal by handicap.
The win inflated the Spindrift record to 2-0 while Cotterel fell to 0-2.
STG 16, Lockton 10
In a noon 8-goal Patton Cup battle of the unbeatens, STG (Max Menini, John Ziegler, Tommy Costello and Francisco Guinazu) handed Lockton (Tim Kelly, Bryan Middleton, Jessica Bailey and Alejandro Gonzalez) their first loss of the tournament (1-1) while improving to 2-0 themselves.
Lockton received one goal by handicap from STG and went up, 2-0, with a goal from the field from Alejandro Gonzalez. John Ziegler responded with a 40-yard penalty conversion for STG followed by a 30-yard penalty goal from Max Menini and a goal from the field from Francisco Guinazu for the 3-2 lead. Gonzalez leveled the score at 3-3 with the final goal of the chukker.
A stubborn STG defense shut out Lockton in second chukker play. Single goals from Guinazu, Tommy Costello and Ziegler were supported by shutout defense, sending Lockton off the field at the end of the second period behind by three goals, 6-3.
Ziegler added a 40-goal penalty goal in the third followed by goals from teammates Menini and Costello, 9-3. Gonzalez and Bryan Middleton kept Lockton from getting blanked with goals to end the chukker trailing, 9-5.
Costello and Ziegler added goals in the fourth with Lockton responding with a 30-yard penalty goal from Middleton. The STG lead had grown to five goals, 11-6.
Gonzalez scored twice in the fifth for Lockton, scoring once from the field and once on a penalty shot. STG kept pace with goals from Menini and Guinazu (40-yard penalty goal). The STG lead held at five goals, 13-8.
Two penalty goals from Tim Kelly in the sixth was the extent of Lockton’s attempt to rally with STG adding three more goals to their total. Two goals from Guinazu and a goal from Ziegler had STG galloping off with the win, 16-10.
Guinazu and Ziegler led the STG attack with five goals apiece. Costello and Menini each scored three times for the win. Gonzalez set the offensive pace for Lockton with five goals. Middleton and Kelly each scored twice, and the team received one goal by handicap.
Play continues in 8-goal General Patton Cup tournament on Friday, February 23rd with STG (2-0) facing La Herradura (1-1); Spindrift (2-0) taking on Lockton (1-1) and Granite Bay (0-2) playing Cotterel (0-2). At the end of the day, the two teams with the top records will go to Sunday’s 2pm final.
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.