The first half of Friday morning’s game between Firehouse Subs and Casa Azul demonstrated how challenging it can be for a team to sustain momentum throughout a contest.
Firehouse Subs would have to go to overtime, winning 8-7 on a penalty shot, in the Wagener Polo Club’s Fox Nation USPA Masters Cup 6-goal.
In fact, both teams saw solid contributions from their entire roster, and Firehouse Subs would make the most of their offensive opportunities, with Marcos Onetto wielding the hot mallet, as he would score two of his team’s goals in the first half. Nicolas Ramos scored the team’s other goal from the field, providing them a one goal cushion after two chukkers. But, it was the dynamic interaction of Firehouse Subs’ Rick Salter and Amy Flowers that would help create those opportunities.
However, it was Casa Azul’s determined defense that stifled Firehouse Subs from further capitalizing offensively, and by precluding the creation of additional scoring chances. They were able to develop plays on the fly, getting goals from Jason Wates and Matt Sekera. Whitney Vogt and Grayson Brown played a huge role directing the opposition away by closing off pre-existing scoring lanes through their positioning and quick thinking.
Casa Azul’s subtle adjustments were the key to their third chukker, and Matt Sekera may have had the game’s most dominant performance, as his outstanding play during the period provided the tangible variables necessary to alter the match’s momentum. Sekera’s second goal of the chukker was a 60-yard penalty blast with 5:21 remaining, and his goal from the field 1:44 seconds later gave Casa Azul a two goal advantage. Firehouse Subs did reduce the margin to one goal seconds later as Marcos Onetto successfully converted a 30-yard penalty shot. But, Jason Wates would respond late in the period converting a penalty no. two.
“Matt played really well in the third chukker,” said Onetto. “He had a couple of good scoring opportunities, and he was able to finish the plays.”
However, the tough-fought, high-energy game, didn’t get any easier in the final chukker as both teams concentrated on holding the opposition scoreless, but Firehouse Subs worked to create opportunities and would strike first in the fourth chukker, on a successful 30-yard penalty shot by Marcos Onetto.
The ebbs and flows of the game were to be expected, and although Firehouse Subs seemed to be under seige in the third chukker, Casa Azul did create a scoring chance and Matt Sekera was there to finish it, but there was still three minutes left on the clock.
Firehouse Subs were relentless in their movement with the ball, and through their hard work they were able to draw a foul. Onetto would successfully convert a 30-yard penalty shot with 1:38 remaining. As fate would have it, another call would go their way, and Onetto would tie the game on his third successful penalty shot of the chukker, with 27 seconds remaining, sending the game to the deciding period.
“I had faith that were going to tie the game,” said Onetto. “When we reduced the score to a one goal deficit with 1:30 left, I felt good about our chances to tie the game. We were lucky. They played better than us, and deserved to win.”
Marcos Onetto scored the game winner on a 60-yard penalty shot 1:19 into overtime.