Coke wins in final seconds!
By Alex Webbe
It was Villa del Lago’s (Jim Zenni, Guille Aguero, Hilario Ulloa and Agustin Obregon) fifth final appearance in the season-opening 20-goal Herbie Pennell Cup at the International Polo Club, and after racing out to a 9-4 halftime lead, they looked to be assured of their first win.
Polo’s newest 10-goaler (in Argentina, still 9-goals in the US) scored the first goal of the day in the opening 90 seconds of play and followed it up with a second goal from the field at the 2:51 mark for a 2-0 Villa del Lago lead. Julio Arellano finally got Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Sugar Erskine, Julio Arellano and Steve Krueger) on the scoreboard on a pass from teammate Sugar Erskine following the ensuing throw-in. A Coca-Cola foul with just 26 seconds left in the period sent Ulloa to the penalty line where he converted from 30-yards for a 3-1 Villa del Lago advantage.
Another Coca-Cola penalty opened the second chukker with Ulloa converting from the 60-yard mark, 4-1. Two minutes later Steve Krueger scored on a pass from Erskine, cutting the Villa del Lago lead to two goals, 4-2. Agustin Obregon scored the final goal of the period and Villa del Lago left the field at the end of the second chukker on top of a 5-2 lead.
Obregon’s second goal of the day came on a pass from Ulloa just 32 seconds into the third chukker and extended the Villa del Lago lead to four goals, 6-2. Ulloa followed it up with a 60-yard penalty goal just a minute later and his second goal of the period had Villa del Lago in front by six goals, 8-2. Coca-Cola rallied with consecutive goals from Krueger and Arellano, 8-4, but it was Ulloa’s seventh score of the match on a 40-yard penalty conversion that had Coca-Cola trailing by five goals, 9-4, at the end of the first half.
Coca-Cola regrouped at halftime and entered the fourth on attack mode. Erskine and Guille Aguero exchanged goals before consecutive goals from Krueger and Gillian Johnston ended the period with Coca-Cola closing to within three goals of the lead, 10-7.
The momentum had shifted as Arellano scored the first two goals of the chukker on a 40-yard penalty conversion from Arellano and a goal from the field from the 8-goaler. Coca-Cola cut the lead to a single goal, 10-9, as Villa del Lago was struggling for an answer. Aguero scored his second goal of the game in an effort to stop the bleeding, 11-9, but there was no let up from Coca-Cola. Krueger notched his fourth goal of the afternoon followed by a goal from Erskine who scored from the ensuing throw-in to tie the game at 11-11 with less than two minutes in the period. Ulloa broke the tie with 21 seconds in the chukker to put Villa del Lago back on top, 12-11.
A determined Villa del Lago foursome took the field in the sixth on a mission. Villa del Lago had been to the final of the last four Pennell Cups and walked away without a title. This time they were determined to take home the silver. Coca-Cola fouled with Villa del Lago pressing the attack and consecutive 40-yard penalty goals from Ulloa stretched their lead to three goals, 14-11, with 4:41 left in regulation play. Arellano responded with a 40-yard penalty goal of his own at the 3:32 mark, 14-12, and a goal from the field from Krueger had them within a goal of the lead, 14-13, with two minutes left to play. A costly Villa del Lago foul allowed Arellano the opportunity to tie the game with 1:05 remaining to be played. The conversion leveled the game at 14-14 and looked to be going into sudden-death overtime. Coca-Cola took control of the throw-in and a pass downfield found a streaking Gillian Johnston who was on a run. Approaching the Villa del Lago goal and racing at a full gallop toward the end line, Johnston unleashed a severe cut shot that found its way through the goalposts for the 15-14 win and Coca-Cola’s third Pennell Cup title.
Coca-Cola’s Arellano scored three of his team-high six goals on penalty shots; Krueger added four goals from the field while Erskine and Johnston each scored twice for the win. Ulloa’s ten goals (six on penalty conversions) led all scoring. Aguero and Obregon added two goals each in a heartbreaking loss for Villa del Lago.
Johnston’s horse Tinsel received Best Playing Pony honors while Ulloa was named MVP.
Enigma 14, La Indiana 10
Earlier in the day, Enigma (Jerome Wirth, Jeff Hall, Matias MacDonough and Carlucho Arellano) recorded a 14-10 win over La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Joao Paulo Ganon, Ruki Baillieu and Tommy Biddle) I what was billed as the Herbie Pennell Subsidiary..
Enigma scored the first three goals of the game on a pair of goals from Matias MacDonough (one on a 30-yard penalty conversion) and a goal from the field from team captain Jerome Wirth. Michael Bickford kept La Indiana from getting blanked with the final score of the chukker, 3-1.
La Indiana stepped up its defensive efforts in the second period, holding Enigma to a goal from the field from Jeff Blake but managed only a single goal of their own from Australian 7-goaler Ruki Baillieu. Enigma continued to lead by two goals, 4-2.
The third chukker belonged to Enigma as they put up four unanswered goals. Three goals from MacDonough and a goal from Hall ended the first half with Enigma leading by six goals, 8-2.
MacDonough added two more goals in the fourth period (one on a 40-yard penalty shot) when the La Indiana offense came alive. Brazilian 7-goaler Joao Ganon scored twice and La Indiana got single goals from Bickford and Baillieu. After four chukkers Enigma continued to lead, but La Indiana had cut the lead to four goals, 10-6, and was on a run.
Enigma charged back into the game in the fifth, with MacDonough adding a pair of penalty conversions for goals and Hall scoring his third of the day from the field. A 30-yard penalty conversion from tommy Biddle was the only offense La Indiana produced as they fell behind by six goals again, 13-7.
Biddle added two more penalty goals in the sixth chukker, 13-9, but time was against them. MacDonough’s tenth goal of the day had Enigma with a five goal, 14-9 advantage and La Indiana scrambling to stay in the game. Ganon scored the final goal of the game as La Indiana suffered a 14-10 loss in their IPC debut.
MacDonough set the pace for Enigma with ten goals (five scored on penalty conversions). Hall added three goals and Wirth was credited with a goal in the victory. Ganon and Biddle scored three goals apiece for La Indiana. Bickford and Baillieu added two goals each in the loss.
MacDonough was honored as MVP while Hall’s mare, Shania, was named Best Playing Pony.
Twenty-goal action at the International Polo Club resumes on Saturday, January 9th with the opening games of the Joe Barry Memorial Cup. La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Joao Paulo Ganon, Ruki Baillieu and Tommy Biddle) will get a rematch with Enigma (Jerome Wirth, Jeff Hall, Matias MacDonough and Carlucho Arellano) at 1pm with Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Sugar Erskine, Julio Arellano and Steve Krueger) facing Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Gonzalo Deltour, Sebastian Merlos and Mason Wroe) in a 3pm contest.
(Photo by Alex Pacheco)