An offensive outburst during the game’s first chukker would provide the needed margin of victory for Firehouse Subs Sunday afternoon as they defeated Airy Hall 10-3 in the Aiken Polo Club’s 4 goal tournament at Whitney Field.
Firehouse Subs ability to win the bowl-ins, maintain possession and control the play in the contest’s initial period set the stage for a dominant first half as Marcos Onetto would go onto score five goals during the first chukker, but it was teamwork that created the opportunities as Tom Uskup, Seth Howe and Rick Salter worked to open space for Onetto, who managed to score 3 goals from the field and 2 more on successful penalty conversions, the second on a 60-yard penalty shot blast, to open a 5 goal margin over Airy Hall (Eliza Limehouse, Justin Kenney, Ben Gregoncza and Del Walton). Onetto’s fifth goal was scored on a back shot with 34 seconds remaining in the frame.
The intensity continued to build in the second period as Firehouse Subs proceeded with their relentless attack. Rick Salter would successfully convert a penalty no. 2, and Seth Howe would give Firehouse Subs a seven goal lead with his first tally of the game. However, the chukker featured a momentum shift as Airy Hall would break their scoring drought with Ben Gregoncza popping the ball through the uprights. Del Walton would reduce the margin to 5 goals with his first goal from the field.
“Marcos was great, but he knew Tom was in the back,” said Salter. “Tom did a great job today. Tom played smart, classic polo and did everything right.”
Airy Hall struck first in the 3rd chukker as Gregoncza scored on a penalty no. 2. But, Firehouse Subs would answer back on a goal by Onetto in a Most Valuable Player Performance. The period featured a spill as Seth Howe became unseated during the chukker, but quickly returned to play.
A sense of urgency served as the impetus for Firehouse Subs to continue to play stong defense, and in turn created additional scoring opportunities. Onetto scored two more goals in the final chukker to seal the victory.
“At half time, I said it’s a 0-0 game because I’ve seen it too many times where you get lacksadaisical and then all of a sudden the other team sneaks back in, and you’ve lost the momentum, and you can’t get going again,” said Salter. “We came out strong and went hard in the 3rd chukker. They’re a good team and the game was a lot closer than what the score reflected. You can never count Del Walton out of anything. He’s a superstar. It was a lot of fun.”
Walton’s third chukker horse Debut was selected as the Best Playing Pony.