EFG Wins on OT Goal from Escobar
By Alex Webbe
It was a bright and sunny afternoon at the International Polo Club in Wellington and EFG Bank supplied an exciting 14-13 overtime at the expense of Valiente in the championship match for the 2011 Herbie Pennell Cup. A healthy crowd cheered on the combatants in the first game of the season as the 20-goal teams took the field in the first of the seasonâ€™s seven high-goal contests.
Valiente 8-goaler Jeff Hall scored the opening goal of the game, and Stewart Armstrong chipped in another after carrying the ball over 150 yards down the field, but a pair of goals from EFGâ€™s Kris Kampsen and a single goal from teammate Andres Weisz had Valiente trailing 3-2 after the first chukker.
Hall tied it up with a penalty goal in the second frame before Luis Escobar got it going again for EFG, scoring twice in the next ninety seconds of play and giving his team a two point, 5-3, lead. An EFG foul in the waning seconds of the period let Valiente gallop back into the game as Hallâ€™s third goal of the game cut the EFG lead to a single goal, 5-4.
EFG flexed its muscles once again in the third chukker as Kampsen scored twice in less than a minute. His first goal came from the field giving ERG a 6-4 lead. The second goal came forty-five seconds later on a penalty conversion as EFG enjoyed a short-lived 7-4, three-goal lead.
Foul trouble plagued EFG once again, as Hall converted on his third penalty shot of the game, and Nacho Astrada scored his first goal of the game to end the first half with Valiente trailing, 7-6.
A brief halftime intermission was followed by the charge of a revitalized EFG team as they scored four consecutive goals in the fourth chukker while shutting out the Valiente offense.
Escobar galloped past the Valiente defenders time and again, scoring the first two goals of the chukker and barely missing a third, which was carried through the goal by a trailing Kampsen. Weisz closed out the scoring in the period with his second goal of the game, and EFG rode off the field with a comfortable 11-6 advantage.
Kampsen scored on a 30-yard penalty shot to open the fifth chukker, giving EFG Bank a commanding 12-6 lead, but Valiente wasnâ€™t ready to roll over yet.
Astrada scored from the field and Hall added two more goals on penalty shots as the momentum seemed to shift. EFG held a 12-9 lead, but Valiente regained its confidence and continued to press the attack.
The EFG Bank three-goal lead began to disappear in the final chukker of regulation play when fouls kept bringing the red-hot Hall to the penalty line.
Two penalty goals from Hall and a goal from the field had Valiente within a goal, with EFGâ€™s total offense for the chukker consisting of Kampsenâ€™s single penalty conversion, cut the lead to one, 13-12, with time running out. Another EFG foul resulted in Hallâ€™s ninth goal of the game and forced a sudden-death overtime chukker.
After a brief recess, as the players changed onto fresh horses once again, play resumed. This time, EFG wasted little time, with Escobar taking the ball from the throw-in and racing 150 yards down the field for the winning goal, 14-13.
Hall led all scoring with nine goals and was named MVP while Escobarâ€™s Stretch, a 12-year-old grey mare played in the fourth chukker, won Best Playing Pony honors.
â€œWe shouldnâ€™t have let them back into the game,â€ said Escobar, â€œbut I thought the team showed a lot of character in fighting back for the win.â€