A position change, adjusting to the heat, and a matter of control.
Those variables played a role in Upatoi Green’s victory Friday over Dahlwood. The Green Machine rallied from a three goal deficit in the middle of the fourth chukker to post a 9-8 victory in the New Bridge USPA Pete Bostwick Memorial 12-goal.
However, if you were to analyze the game based on the initial period, you may have thought Dahlwood was headed toward a dominant victory. Goals by Marcos Onetto, David Wigdahl and two by Agustin Arellano, helped to dictate the early going. But, it wasn’t as if Upatoi Green was pedestrian in their offensive production as Alan Martinez scored twice, once from the field, and another on a successful penalty conversion.
Upatoi Green began to build off their first chukker, and would score the lone goal of the period, with Alan Martinez blasting a successful 60-yard penalty shot through the uprights.
But, as the game went on, both teams played with a higher level of intensity. The Onetto brothers always seem to have an intuitive sense when it comes to knowing where one another is on the field, and it was Marcos’ and Horacio’s sound instincts that gave Dahlwood back a two goal cushion. Horacio picked up his first goal of the game as all four members of the Dahlwood roster had scored goals in the game’s first two-and-a-half chukkers. Dahlwood rode that wave of confidence, made the executions they needed to, and would take a three goal advantage as David Wigdahl picked up his second goal from the field. Alan Martinez would reduce the deficit to two goals, as he added his fourth goal of the half.
Several adjustments at halftime by Upatoi Green started altering the direction of play.
“We changed our position, and wanted to control the pace of the play a little bit more,” said Eddy Martinez, Upatoi Green. “And because of the heat, a day like today was really tough on the horses and players. We didn’t try to outrun them. We thought by having Alan going forward, and by my staying back defensively, we would play a little better. That strategy seems to work well against Dahlwood, and I’m not sure why, but it made the difference.”
Dahlwood would strike first in the second half, and once again would open a three goal lead. But, an unclaustraphobic climate and open play, meant scoring opportunities, and Tom Uskup reduced the deficit to two goals.
Dahlwood may have stormed difinitively early in the game, scoring four times in the first chukker, but the fifth chukker was a different story, as Upatoi Green didn’t appear to be intimidated by the circumstances as they scored three consecutive goals. Upatoi Green found themselves controlling the ball for much of the period, even when they didn’t win the bowl-in, their anticipation found them getting to loose balls, and their control came from pace, zone time and speed. Alan Martinez continued to wield the hot mallet scoring two goals from the field, and the other on a 30-yard penalty conversion. The second goal of the series was started by Uskup, who astutely threaded a pass to an open Alan Martinez, who would finish the play. The third goal by Martinez in the chukker gave Upatoi Green their first lead of the game.
However, both teams did fail to finish several offensive opportunties, and in some cases, much to their chagrin, those chances were right in front of the opposition’s goal. Marcos Onetto tied the game at 8-8 with, 1:12 remaining in the period.
The game’s final goal came by the way of a patient approach. Eddy Martinez didn’t loft a rocket through the uprights to convert the penalty, but he used his vision of the field and polo sense to score the game’s winning goal.
“The opposition gave me a big opening,” said Eddy Martinez. “The plan was for me to hit the ball one time, and use my teammates, but as I was approching the ball, at the 30-yard line, I saw Horacio, and he went to the center of the ball, and no one was covering me on the right. I took advantage of the opening. The other guys were marking their man, and I was able to come through and finish the play.”