It was truly a team effort.
However, it was the team behind the scenes that played a role in Las Vinas’ victory Sunday in the finals of the Aiken Polo Club’s USPA Governor’s Cup 6 goal at Whitney Field. Las Vinas defeated Property Consultants of the South 11-7.
The two teams had met earlier in the tournament, resulting in a Las Vinas victory, but it was that previous meeting that provided each team an opportunity to adjust to one another’s tendencies. Las Vinas’ roster was composed of Tony Rodriguez, Cesar Rangel, Johnny Alvarez and Eddy Martinez. The Property Consultants of the South team featured Scott Silver, Sebastian Aycinena. Tom Uskup and Luis Galvan.
The game’s first three goals in the opening chukker were scored by the way of penalty conversions. Las Vinas’ Eddy Martinez successfully converted 60 and 40 yard penalty shots. and Property Consultants of the South’s Tom Uskup converted a penalty no. 3. But, it was the intracacies of artistry that lead to the game’s first goal from the field. Las Vinas’ Johnny Alvarez, in a Most Valuable Player peformance scored the first of his six goals.
Las Vinas’ ability to create offensive opportunities is a part of their game that is linked inextricably to their identity, and Alvarez continued his outstanding play by scoring the chukker’s first two goals from the field, staking Las Vinas to a four goal advantage. However, Property Consultants of the South had a commitment to short memories, and demonstrated their resilience creating scoring chances, and capitalizing on a pair of successful 40-yard penalty shots by Tom Uskup. Alvarez scored his third goal of the chukker as Las Vinas took a three goal advantage into the half. Uskup’s second chukker horse, Split Pea, would be selected as the game’s Best Playing Pony.
Las Vinas continued to maintain and control the pace of the game, scoring first in the second half, as Alvarez successfully converted a 30-yard penalty shot. Property Consultants of the South answered back on a goal by Uskup. The margin became two goals as Property Consultants of the South’s Luis Galvan scored on a 60-yard penalty conversion. Cesar Rangel shed two defenders and in doing so gave Las Vinas an 8-5 lead late in the chukker. A 30-yard penalty conversion by Martinez gave Las Vinas a comfortable margin.
“We are really lucky,” said Martinez. “The horses are responding so well. We’ve been really focusing on the horses. That’s what’s getting us there.”
The final chukker provided ample chances for both teams to bury a number of scoring opportunities. Galvan converted a 60-yard penalty shot to bring Property Consultants of the South within three goals. But, consecutive goals from the field by Alvarez, and one from the ensuing bowl-in by Martinez, put the game out of reach. Sebastian Aycinena capped the scoring by deftly eluding defenders.
“I have to give credit to the team behind the scenes because they’ve been doing a tremendous job,” said Martinez. “In my case, it’s my wife (Linda). I give so much credit to them because of the way they take care of the horses, and you see the results.”