Evergreen (Tom Sprung, Carlitos Galindo, Juan Jo Gonzales and Bayne Bossom) and Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Ashton Wolf, Taylor Freeman and Ian Schnoebelen) rode into Sunday’s final of the 2018 Stagecoach Challenge at the Empire Polo Club with high-scoring offenses that had averaged about 13-goals-per game (Evergreen 13; Hanalei Bay, 12.6) after three games, setting the stage for a high-scoring championship match that would feature some of the tournament’s top scorers, and they didn’t disappoint.
Carlitos Galindo rocked the Hanalei Bay defenders in first chukker action that saw him score three consecutive goals for the early 3-1 edge (Hanalei Bay received one goal by handicap). Taylor Freeman scored Hanalei Bay’s first goal from the field to end the first with Evergreen holding on to a 3-2 advantage.
Fouls by Hanalei Bay got them into trouble early in the second period, and Evergreen made them pay. Galindo converted a penalty shot from 60-yards while teammate Bayne scored on a 30-yarder. Both Galindo and Bossom added goals from the field as Evergreen rocketed out to a 7-2 lead. Ashton Wolf scored the final goal of the period, but Hanalei Bay trailed by four goals, 7-3.
Hanalei Bay scratched their way back into the game in the third, cutting the lead back to 7-5 on goals from Wolf and Freeman (a 40-yard penalty conversion), but it wasn’t to be. Galindo added a penalty goal and a goal from the field with Juan Jo Gonzalez scoring his first goal of the day on a penalty shot to give Evergreen a commanding 10-5 halftime lead.
The Hanalei Bay defense stepped it up in the fourth, holding Evergreen scoreless for the first time all day, but were unable to capitalize on it. A single goal from Wolf was all they could muster, offensively, and continued to trail, 10-6.
Bossom’s single goal in the fifth for Evergreen was the only score of the period as solid defensive efforts slowed down both attacking efforts. The Evergreen led returned to five goals, 11-6, with one period left in regulation play.
Gonzalez added a goal and Galindo scored twice (one on a penalty shot) while an impotent Hanalei Bay attack was unable to mount a successful scoring effort for the second consecutive chukker. When the final horn sounded it was Evergreen with the convincing 14-6 victory.
Carlitos Galindo led all scoring with an impressive nine goals. He also finished the tournament as high-scorer with a total of 26 goals in four games. Bossom added three goals and Gonzalez scored twice for the win. Wolf scored three times for Hanalei Bay. Freeman added two goals and the team received one goal by handicap.
Empire 7, Granite Bay 5
In a noon Stagecoach Challenge consolation game, it was Empire (Rob Scapa, Eileen Duffy, Erik Wright and Nicolas Maciel) sneaking past Granite Bay (Eric Hammon, Julie Fernandez, Alvaro Tadeo and Goyo Mariscal), 7-5.
First chukker goals from Nicolas Maciel (substituting for Jim Wright) and Rob Scapa went unanswered as the Empire defenders turned aside one assault after another. The first chukker ended with Empire on top, 2-0.
Maciel’s second goal of the day extended the Empire lead to three goals, 3-0, before Granite Bay found their offense. Countering with goals from Eric Hammon and Alvaro Tadeo, Granite Bay came within a goal of the lead, 3-2, as the period ended.
Goals were scarce in the third as both defenses held. A single 30-yard penalty conversion by Erik Wright accounted for all of the scoring as Empire left the field at the end of the first half on top of a 4-2 score.
A fourth period goal from Maciel was supported by a defense that held Granite Bay without a goal for the second consecutive chukker. After four periods of play, Empire remained in the lead, 5-2.
Granite Bay came alive in the fifth, with goals from Tadeo and Goyo Mariscal, 5-4, but Empire answered back. Single goals from Maciel and Wright restored their 3-goal lead, 7-4, with one period left to play.
The defensive tone of the game carried into the final chukker, with Granite Bay’s Julie Fernandez accounting for the only goal in a 7-5 Empire victory.
Maciel led the Empire attack with four goals. Wright scored twice and Scapa accounted for a goal in the win. Tadeo’s two goals were a team high for Granite Bay. Single goals were scored by Fernandez, Mariscal and Hammon.