A change in strategy in the second half paid dividends for Duck Hill (Agustin Arellano, Tom Uskup, John Gobin and Bob Stanton) as an explosive 5th chukker shifted the momentum of the game, and they went onto defeat Peachtree (Barb Uskup, Randy Rizor, Marcos Onetto and Antonio Galvan) 11-8 in the finals of the Aiken Polo Club’s USPA Officers Cup Sunday at Whitney Field.

The game’s first goal was scored by Duck Hill’s Agustin Arellano, and served as a harbinger of things to come as the game’s youngest player would go onto earn Most Valuable Player honors. Peachtree kept things close as Antonio Galvan tied the game with a goal from the field. But, Duck Hill showed their determination as John Gobin battled through traffic to score late in the period.

Several deep drives by both teams in the 2nd chukker were thwarted by the defensive pressure applied by the opposition. Peachtree managed to tie the game on a successful 60-yard penalty conversion by Antonio Galvan. A goal from the field by Marcos Onetto provided Peachtree with a comfortable cushion as Antonio Galvan’s scoring touch created a 3 goal margin between the teams going into the half.

A change in strategy would be in order for the game’s second half, and Duck Hill made some minor adjustments that would serve as the impetus to reach their objectives.

“At half time, we were down by 3 goals,” said Gobin. “I kept telling myself to slow down, take my time, don’t rush and stay on the game plan.”

However, a couple of missed opportunities at the start of the 2nd half by Peachtree seemed to provide Duck Hill with the confidence they needed. Duck Hill began to finish plays, create offensive opportunities and find holes in the Peachtree defense, where their offensive chances in the 1st half were disrupted by picks being set by the opposition. And it was one of those missed opportunities by Peachtree that gave Duck Hill the chance to start their resurgence. John Gobin started a play, Agustin Arellano found himself in perfect position, and his intuitive sixth sense enabled him to be in the right place at the right time allowing for a shot on goal that hit the right upright, but Tom Uskup was following and finished the play. Gobin would reduce the deficit to 1 goal. on a successful 60-yard penalty shot. Peachtree’s defensive lapse served as a catalyst. They would win the bowl-in, and Marcos Onetto and his 2nd half string would flash their speed as he was able to split defenders and score. In the chukker’s closing minute Peachtree continued their relentless attack as Antonio Galvan popped the ball through the uprights.

A 3 goal advantage to some may seem like a significant margin, but with 2 chukkers left, the lead was anything but safe. Duck Hill’s determination, steady play and consistent teamwork broke the game open in the penultimate chukker. Tom Uskup scored from the period’s opening bowl-in, demonstrating the speed of his mount, but more importantly all four team members were involved in the play that created the successful scoring opportunity. John Gobin’s goal from the site of the infraction brought Duck Hill within a goal. Duck Hill’s confidence began to grow with each offensive drive. Gobin would win the bowl-in, and Arellano would finish the play to knot the game at 7-7. A propitious set of circumstances found Duck Hill taking advantage of a Peachtree miscue as Gobin’s quick thinking and reflexes saw him pounce on the ball giving Duck Hill their first lead of the game since the opening chukker. Duck Hill could have increased their lead to 3 goals, but a missed penalty shot and a stifled offensive drive, one that saw Peachtree’s Antonio Galvan make a great defensive play, denied those chances. Duck Hill did take a 2 goal lead into the final chukker as Gobin hammered the ball through the uprights from 40-yards out.

Teamwork and patience increased Duck Hill’s lead to 3 goals as a give-and-go between Gobin and Uskup resulted in another score as Uskup’s goal came on a deftly played cut shot. Tom Uskup’s 6th chukker horse Christina, trained by Julian Daniels, was selected as Best Playing Pony. Peachtree would get within 2 goals as Marcos Onetto reduced the margin. Gobin showcased his playmaking abilities late in the chukker as he assisted on Arellano’s goal.