Tonkawa Survives Grand Champions Comeback
After wet conditions altered the schedule of the 2018 Joe Barry Cup for the third consecutive day, play finally resumed at Tonkawa farm, as the host team Tonkawa held on for the narrow 9-8 victory over Grand Champions Polo Club.
In their first game of the tournament, Tonkawa was impressive early in the game, racing out to 5-0 lead, thanks to effective defence from newcomer Julian de Lusarreta and four goals from Sapo Caset. Missed opportunities from Grand Champions allowed Tonkawa to turn defence into offense, highlighted by a nice cut shot from patron Jeff Hildebrand for his first goal of the game. Failing to score in the first two and a half chukkas of the game, Grant Ganzi finally put Grand Champions on the scoresheet with just over a minute left in the 3rd chukka. Before the half was complete, Caset added his fifth goal of the half as Tonkawa took a commanding 6-1 lead into halftime.
he beginning of the second half mirrored the first half, as Grand Champions continued to miss their opportunities around goal, only converting one of their first eight shot attempts in the game. Finishing another run, Hildebrand added his second goal of the game, while teammate Sterling Giannico completed a run with a nifty tail backhand, as Tonkawa extended their lead to 8-1, as the game began to get away from Grand Champions.
The 5th chukka was a completely different game, as Grand Champions controlled possession throughout the entire chukka, continuing to place Tonkawa in difficult positions defensively. Seven fouls from Tonkawa in the 5th chukka resulted in four penalty 2 conversions for Mike Azzaro, along with a field goal from Juancito Bollini, turned a seven-goal deficit into just a two-goal deficit with one chukka remaining.
What seemed impossible just a chukka before, Grand Champions completed their comeback as Azzaro scored back-to-back goals, finishing a run of seven consecutive goals from Grand Champions to tie the game at 8-8. Despite shooting just 3 for 13 (23%) in the game, Grand Champions found themselves tied with just over two minutes remaining, but Tonkawa’s Sapo Caset forced a foul right in front of the Grand Champions goal, converting the penalty 2 for his 6th goal of the game. Holding off Grand Champions in the final minute, Tonkawa was able to overcome the incredible comeback from Grand Champions to escape with the 9-8 victory.