Derry Heir opens Congressional with a victory
An emphasis on the fundamentals yielded winning results.
Sunday morning’s match between Derry Heir and Whiskey Victor/Idea Factory was more than just a game, it served as a fundraiser for firefighter Matt Baugus, who has been diagnosed with cancer, with the opening contest of the Wagener Polo Club’s USPA Congressional Cup 6-goal being called the First Aiken Emergency Responder Game at Fox Nation.
Derry Heir, Bob Donahey, Will Donahey, Craig Fraser and Jason Wates, represented the firefighters and Whiskey Victor/Idea Factory, Whitney Vogt, Scott Silver, Geoff Cameron and Tom Uskup, the police. Derry Heir would come away with a hard fought 5-3.5 win.
A half goal deficit found Derry Heir having to elevate their game early, and they would capitalize on successive penalty shots with goals from Craig Fraser, the second coming on a 60-yard attempt. Jason Wates would tack on an additional goal from the field as Derry Heir held the opposition scoreless during the first chukker.
Whiskey Victor/Idea Factory would break its scoring drought early in the second chukker as Whitney Vogt would score from the field. The goal seemed to ramp up their intensity, and they would win the ensuing bowl-in, but things changed quickly. Derry Heir played a patient, man-to-man defense, dictating the pace of the play and creating opportunities as Jason Wates scored his second goal of the contest, providing a 2.5 goal cushion going into the half.
However, Whiskey Victor/Idea Factory employed a far more aggressive-offensive approach in the third chukker, and generated scoring chances during the opening period of the second half. Derry Heir won the opening bowl-in, but Whiskey Victor/Idea Factory found a wave of energy. Geoff Cameron’s long pass to Whitney Vogt enabled Whiskey Victor/Idea Factory to close the gap between the two teams. Tom Uskup’s goal from the field, through a congested goal mouth, in the latter half of the third chukker made it a half goal game going into the final frame.
Both teams missed opportunities to score in the final chukker’s first few minutes, but Derry Heir maintained their focus, and was able to relax and regroup. Fraser would score his third goal of the game, on a penalty no. 2, with the ball placed eight yards from the goal mouth.
“We slowed it down a bit in the last chukker,” said Wates. “In the third chukker, we started running, and that was their good chukker. In the second, we held the ball a little longer, and we concentrated on just beating one guy. We slowed down and stretched their team apart. So, there was a lot of space to beat one person, and when they slowed down we kept running.”
The players’ strings became critical during the tournament’s first game as the contest entered the last few chukkers.
“It’s super important to have enough horses and to get them up early,” said Wates. “It takes a week for every month they’ve been resting. Our horses were fresh. Mine were actually a little bit heavy, so it suited us to slow down. Craig’s are up and going. They had a little rest. They’ve been going all season in Florida. His horses were ready to go. ”