Coming off a spectacular undefeated win in the Regional President’s Cup, Derry Heir pursued the National President’s Cup with the same fervor, reaching the final on Monday, November 4, at New Bridge Polo & Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina. Once again entering a final with a perfect record, Derry Heir faced off against Field One. Cementing their lead in the fourth chukker, Derry Heir captured the prestigious title 12-10, despite a valiant sixth chukker push from their opponents.

“This team truly embodies everything Derry Heir strives to achieve. They have great, positive team spirit coupled with team polo which uses all four players. What a great season we’ve had winning two trophies, and how exciting for one to be the National President’s Cup! Huge credit to Will’s father Bob Donahey for putting together a great Derry Heir team and of course credit to the team members for buying into the Derry Heir way!”  – Craig Fraser, Derry Heir Team Manager

Making the first offensive move, 14-year-old Summer Kneece knocked the ball between the posts, but Field One’s Dennys Santana was in perfect position to counter with two of his own. A close second chukker, Derry Heir gained the edge by one to equalize the score 4-all. Taking the lead in the third, Derry Heir once again outscored their opponents, allowing both Kneece and Eddy Martinez to maneuver through defenders and add a goal apiece. Field One keeping the competition tight answered back with a single goal, but the half ended 6-5 in favor of Derry Heir.

Alan Martinez prepares for a defensive shot.

Alan Martinez prepares for a defensive shot.

Making the first offensive move, 14-year-old Summer Kneece knocked the ball between the posts, but Field One’s Dennys Santana was in perfect position to counter with two of his own. A close second chukker, Derry Heir gained the edge by one to equalize the score 4-all. Taking the lead in the third, Derry Heir once again outscored their opponents, allowing both Kneece and Eddy Martinez to maneuver through defenders and add a goal apiece. Field One keeping the competition tight answered back with a single goal, but the half ended 6-5 in favor of Derry Heir.

Derry Heir's Will Donahey and Field One's Jack Whitman at full speed down the sidelines.

Derry Heir’s Will Donahey and Field One’s Jack Whitman at full speed down the sidelines.

Adjusting to the speed of the 8-goal level in Aiken, Summer Kneece and Will Donahey developed and improved throughout the season to become very effective members of the team. “Learning the system, Summer and Will got better and better with each game,” Craig Fraser commented. “Learning their individual roles, they contributed effectively on both offense and defense, while chipping in with very important goals along the way. The steady improvement in them allowed the team to become more expansive and throughout the second and third tournaments play true four-man polo.”

Most Valuable Player: Summer Kneece, presented by Colleen Donahey.

Most Valuable Player: Summer Kneece, presented by Colleen Donahey.

Contributing three goals to Derry Heir’s tally, Summer Kneece was named Most Valuable Player. “I think that we all had a great game and we played very well together as a team. Both on and off the field we were in constant communication and stayed positive. On the field we used each other the entire time and most importantly we had a lot of fun,” Kneece said.

Best Playing Pony: Ninja - played and owned by Alan Martinez, presented by Gene Kneece and pictured with Cheyenne Miller.

Best Playing Pony: Ninja – played and owned by Alan Martinez, presented by Gene Kneece and pictured with Cheyenne Miller.

Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to 10-year-old off-the-track-Thoroughbred, Ninja, owned and played by Alan Martinez in the fourth chukker and recipient of last year’s Best Playing Pony in the Regional President’s Cup. “She was trained by Matt Sekera and my father, Eddy Martinez,” Alan Martinez said. “She has a great mouth and loves the game of polo. She’s the mare that would play every chukker if I let her.”

Derry Heir team group photo with family, fans and supporters.

Derry Heir team photo with family, fans and supporters.

Playing for Derry Heir for over a decade, Eddy Martinez is a fixture of the organization and is grateful for the opportunity to play and win with his son. “On or off the field they are like family to me,” Eddy Martinez said of his teammates. “Our team chemistry and our willingness to work hard for each other is what enables us to win games. Every once in a while you are lucky enough to be a part of a team like this one.”

All photos courtesy of ©Katie Roth.NEW BRIDGE POLO CLUB 

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