By Darlene Ricker
La Indiana maintained their momentum from the English season, defeating the mighty Villa del Lago Modere 11- 8 in Wednesday’s 2017 Joe Barry Memorial opener. In the second match of the day at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), Tonkawa took a commanding 19-11 win over Mt. Brilliant.
Even with Hilario Ulloa’s 6 goals on the day (5 from the penalty line), Villa del Lago Modere couldn’t counter a balanced La Indiana team. All four La Indiana players scored from the field in the first half to gain a 6-3 lead. La Indiana maximized their opportunities to convert, going 8 of 12 from the field to continually put pressure on the Villa del Lago defense.
Despite their opponent winning the majority of the throw-ins early on, La Indiana arrived well drilled and played as a cohesive unit. The La Indiana defense disrupted the usual smooth partnership of Ulloa and Agustín Obregon.
After halftime fouls began to affect the game, with La Indiana committing 7 in the second half. That opened the door for Villa del Lago to close the gap, but La Indiana prevailed (66.7 percent shooting from the field and 75 percent from the penalty line) over the recent 2017 Herbie Pennell Cup champions.
The defensive skills of patron Michael Bickford contributed significantly to La Indiana’s strength. In unusual positioning for a patron, Bickford played the back and made several key back shots. He made a series of skilful plays on some very handy Thoroughbreds that held up against Ulloa’s lightning-fast string. La Indiana’s horses appeared super-fit and came into the game hot. The team’s decision to arrive in Wellington a couple of weeks before the tournament began clearly paid off.
Tonkawa Defeats Mt. Brilliant 19-11
For the first time in the past couple of years, Tonkawa came into the 20-goal with an extremely competitive lineup. In a high-scoring affair, Tonkawa’s high-powered offense carried them to victory. Tonkawa converted 17 of 19 shots, with Costi Caset and 10-goaler Sapo Caset scoring a combined 13 of 13 from the field. The younger brother, Costi, played above his handicap (4) and demonstrated his finishing skills.
Julian Daniels, who has competed on the British international team, played in sync with Jason Crowder and Santi Chavanne, but the combination proved ineffective against the Casets. Sapo Caset played in his usual fashion, initially controlling the game from the back, although this time he had difficulty connecting with the front.
The first half was closely contested, with Mt. Brilliant making 4 goals in the third chukker to take a 7-6 lead at the end of the first half. Then Tonkawa began to control the throw-ins, winning 15 of 20 in the second half. That led to a series of quick goals. Tonkawa scored 6 times in the fourth chukker and held Mt. Brilliant scoreless, bringing Tonkawa to a 5-goal lead (12-7). Tonkawa continued to convert at every opportunity, resulting in 13 goals in the second half and a 19-11 victory.
The Joe Barry Memorial continues Thursday with another double-header. Grand Champions Polo Club opposes Goose Creek at 11 a.m., and Coca Cola plays Postage Stamp Farm at 3 p.m. The Joe Barry Memorial is being filmed by ChukkerTV and live streamed by the USPA Polo Network.