Sunny skies set the stage for the opening round of play in Saturday’s Coyote Classic at the Empire Polo Club, and in his opening game of the season, Eric Hammon made his presence known.
In a three-team round-robin format, Hammon scored the opening goal for Granite Bay (Cameron Smith, Eric Hammon, Victor Soto and Manny Rodriguez) in first chukker play that had Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Ron Bonaguidi, Ashton Wolf and Alvaro Tadeo) trailing, 1-0. Krista Bonaguidi scored to level the score at 1-1, with Ashton Wolf closing out the chukker with a goal for a 2-1 Hanalei Bay 2-1 edge.
Wolf’s two second chukker goals went unanswered with Hanalei Bay recording a 4-1 win in the first two chukkers of the tournament.
Granite Bay held the field for the next two periods as they attempted to reverse their fortunes against a Pheasant Hollow team (Deb Vermoch, Eileen Duffy, Carlos Galindo and Tim Rudy) that was looking for a second straight tournament title.
Granite Bay’s Victor Soto scored the first goal of the day’s second mini-match, driving the ball through the Pheasant Hollow goalposts with a shot from the field to make it 1-0. Debra Vermoch took advantage of a Granite Bay penalty to convert a penalty shot that tied the game at 1-1.
Soto gave the lead back to Granite Bay with his second goal of the day, 2-1. Carlos Galindo responded with a goal to make it 2-2. Soto and Tim Rudy exchanged goals to end it in a 3-3 tie.
The final two periods of the day Had Hanalei Bay facing Pheasant Hollow. Hanalei Bay would be battling to remain unbeaten while Pheasant Hollow was going to try to put a win on the scoreboard for themselves.
Alvaro Tadeo struck first for Hanalei Bay, but Pheasant Hollow was ready, and countered with a goal from Carlos Galindo. Both defenses prevailed for the balance of the chukker, with the teams leaving the field at the end of the first seven minutes of play all even at 1-1.
Ron Bonaguidi converted a 30-yard penalty shot for a 2-1 Hanalei Bay advantage, but Pheasant Hollow wasn’t through. Galindo’s third goal of the day accounted for the balance of the scoring and ending the final two periods in a 2-2 tie.
Hanalei Bay will take the field in Sunday’s 11AM competition with a 1-0-1 record and a total of six goals scored. Pheasant Hollow scored a total of five goals on the day and a record of 0-0-2. Granite Bay has four goals to their credit but remain winless on the day at 0-0-2.
The two-day round-robin format allows for any one of the three teams to ride off with the silver regardless of the totals at the end of the first day.
The 2017 Coyote Classic is the second of four consecutive 4-goal tournaments which will be followed by the Jackalope Cup (Dec. 16-17) and the Holiday Cup (Dec. 23-24).
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.