Chemistry was the key.

Las Vinas won their opener Wednesday afternoon in the New Bridge Polo and Country Club Fall Classic 8 goal, with a 12-8 victory over Rude Boy. Las Vinas’ roster was composed of Stacie Rodriguez, Eddy Martinez, Nick Snow and Cesar Rangel. Rude Boy’s team featured Cecilia Cochran, Willie Hartnett, Amy Flowers and Jason Wates.

A strong, early start was important from a collective point of view, and Las Vinas opened the game’s scoring, with Cesar Rangel tallying from the field. And although Las Vinas won the ensuing bowl-in, it would be Rude Boy, who would take possession with their solid defense. A Jason Wates breakaway found him deep in the attacking zone, when Cesar Rangel’s horse stumbled with the rider falling to the ground. Cochran tied the game with a penalty conversion from the site of the infraction.

Las Vinas won the opening bowl-in of the second chukker, but it was Rude Boy scoring first as the result of a goal from the field by Jason Wates. Nick Snow scored from 60 yards out to tie the game at two goals a piece. The momentum began shifting Las Vinas’ way, and they won the ensuing bowl-in, but after a deep drive into the attacking zone, they weren’t able to finish the play. A second scoring drive by Las Vinas also failed to add to their goal totals as the shot went wide right.

It was Nick Snow’s successful penalty no. 4 conversion that gave Las Vinas a 3-2 lead early in the third chukker, but Rude Boy would answer back on a play started by Wates and finished by Hartnett, who burried the scoring opportunity, managing to get through a high volume area in front of the uprights. However, it was Las Vinas who seemed to be finding its groove, with each team member understanding the advantage of proper positioning with pressure, as Snow picked up his third goal in the later stages of the first half.

The second half found each team making a series of adjustments with most of the game’s scoring occuring during the final three chukkers. Confidence would become a huge variable and it increased markedly for both Las Vinas and Rude Boy when given the opportunity.

“The horses went really good as the game progressed,” said Martinez. “It’s always fun playing with Nick, Cesar and Stacie. There’s a lot of chemistry. Polo is a team sport.”

Willie Hartnett opened the scoring in the second half, shedding defenders and going in unobstructed. Las Vinas won the ensuing bowl-in, and Cesar Rangel finished the play. Las Vinas’ chemistry between the players on its roster allowed them to benefit from one another’s hard work, they would win the ensuing bowl-in, and Eddy Martinez added to Las Vinas’ offensive output. Las Vinas played an intelligent game, and when they did, they created offensive scoring opportunities, with Snow scoring on an off side cut shot, to increase the margin to three goals. Rude Boy reduced the deficit to two goals on a 30-yard penalty shot by Cochran.

The fifth chukker would be the game changer, and not only did Las Vinas erupt for four goals, they held the opposition scoreless. Cesar Rangel opened the penultimate chukker’s scoring, and Snow would add a successful penalty no. 2 conversion. Consecutive goals on successful penalty conversions by Eddy Martinez, the second one coming on a powerfully hit 60-yard penalty shot, providing Las Vinas with a six goal advantage.

The final chukker belonged to Rude Boy, and it was through their skill, quickness and hard work, that they created scoring chances. Willie Hartnett picked up his third goal of the game. Cecilia Cochran scored on a 30-yard penalty shot, and Harnett pick up his second goal of the period. Eddy Martinez capped the scoring with his fourth goal of the contest.