No lead is ever safe.
Dahlwood and High Ground/Foxdale Equine saw the lead change several times, and four unanswered goals in the final chukker would be the difference in Dahlwood’s 14-11 victory Sunday morning in the New Bridge USPA Pete Bostwick 12-goal at New Bridge Polo and Country Club. Dahlwood would score the game’s first two goals, Jake Stimmel from the field and Horacio Onetto’s precision penalty shooting gave Dahlwood an early 2-1 lead. However, High Ground/Foxdale Equine regained their composure and turned up the pressure with consecutive goals from Will Tankard and Joe Meyer. Dahlwood’s response was to keep pushing forward and stay aggressive, and consecutive goals from Horacio Onetto, the first on a 60-yard penalty shot, and the second coming 25 seconds later from the ensuing bowl-in, provided Dahlwood with a one goal advantage after the first chukker.
Dahlwood continued to create opportunities through its disciplined defensive approach as Tomas Obregon intercepted a pass and shook off a pair of defenders to make it a two goal game. Dahlwood’s decision making allowed Onetto to increase the lead to three with his fourth goal. High Ground/Foxdale Equine would win the ensuing bowl-in, and Julian Daniels put on a clinic scoring what would be the first of his five goals in the game. Onetto and Daniels would trade goals in the latter stages of the chukker.
Patience continued to play a large role in Dahlwood’s success, and David Wigdahl would shake off multiple defenders in taking the ball two-thirds of the way down the field. But that only seemed to motivate High Ground/Foxdale Equine and Daniels was far from finished with his flashy mallet work, as he slipped by the opposition to make it a two goal margin. The teams traded goals again with Tankard converting a 30-yard attempt and Onetto answering back for good measure.
High Ground/Foxdale Equine made some adjustments during the opening chukker of the second half, with Daniels coming away with the ball from the bowl-in, and Tankard finishing the play. Wigdahl continued with his strong and consistent game, focusing on the task at hand, shedding defenders for his second goal from the field. High Ground/Foxdale Equine may have been overthinking some of their plays during the first half, instead of reacting and playing, and their focus on defense provided them with additional scoring chances as Daniels picked up another goal.
It appeared that High Ground/Foxdale Equine’s decisions with the ball became more natural and automatic, and the dangerous combination of Daniels and Tankard maintained their scoring touch, with Daniels acting as playmaker and Tankard popping the ball through the uprights to tie the game at 10-10. Both teams would miss several opportunities. But it would be Daniels in the late stages of the penultimate chukker giving High Ground/Foxdale Equine its first lead of the game since the opening period of play.
“It was a very tough game and against a very tough team,” said Wigdahl. “Julian Daniels is always tough. It’s always nice to beat Julian.”
The final chukker found Dahlwood employing a smart defensive strategy, maintaining their position as they found themselves getting to the ball, and stopping the opposition by eliminating the scoring cycle that had been prevalent in the previous two periods. Wigdahl would start a series of offensive opportunities for Dahlwood, picking up his third goal. Obregon would be next, scoring while being closely marked. Dahlwood used their defense to stifle an offensive drive of the opposition’s with Stimmel threading a pass to Obregon for the third goal in the series. Onetto’s instinctive play found him in the right place at the right time, scoring the game’s final goal by walking it in with 22 seconds remaining in the contest.