La Herradura defeates Orchard Hill, 14–10 in Joe Barry Memorial Cup opener

The Gracidas open the
Joe Barry memorial Cup with a 14-10 win

By Alex Webbe

Gracida and Memo Gracida played together on winning US Open seven times, and
have racked up endless trophies together over the years together.  Their opening play of the season in the
International Polo Club’s Herbie Pennell Cup was panned as a poor imitation of what was expected of the
former 10-goalers, but their performance today in the 14-10 win over Orchard
Hill in the opening match of the Joe Barry Memorial Cup had tongues wagging.

A fast-paced
but tentative first chukker saw Orchard Hill’s Mason Wroe score the first goal
of the match countered by a goal from Memo Gracida.  Carlos Gracida gave La Herradura a 2-1 lead
on a goal from the field with just over two minutes left in the chukker.  An umpire’s whistle stopped the action with
50 seconds left in the chukker, and Orchard Hill tied it up at 2-2 on a Jeff
Hall penalty conversion.

A pair of
penalty goals from Carlos Gracida in the second chukker and another goal from
the field from Memo Gracida had La Herradura in front 5-3 after the
second.  Hall converted a 40-yard penalty
shot for a goal for Orchard Hill’s only score of the period.

The pace of
the game continued to escalate in the third chukker as the Gracidas showed off
the superior horseflesh they had become so famous for.  Goals from Alberto Fernandez and Carlos
Gracida went unanswered as they shut down the Orchard Hill offense and built a
four goal, 7-3 lead to end the first half.

An epidemic
of fouls infected the second half as both teams fought fiercely stop the
opposing offenses.  A pair of penalty
goals from Carlos Gracida were answered by penalty conversions from Lucas
Criado and Jeff Hall with La Herradura holding on to a four goal 0-5 lead.  Albert Fernandez made his presence known as
he scored his second goal of the day, but Criado made good on a 60-yard penalty
shot and the chukker ended with La Herradura in front by four goals, 10-6.

Two more
penalty goals from Orchard Hill in the fifth chukker kept their hopes alive,
but the Gracidas responded with a penalty goal from Carlos and a goal from the
field from Memo.  After five chukkers La
Herradura continued to lead comfortably, 12-8.

Gracida scored on a 60-yard penalty shot to open the final chukker and two
minutes later Fernandez added another as La Herradura stretched its lead to six
goals, 14-8.  Criado got one of them back
on a penalty goal and Hall added another from the field but the Gracidas
continued to dominate play in the 14-10 win.

“My timing is
back,” said Carlos after the game, explaining that he hadn’t played competitive
high-goal polo in two years, “but my reaction time has to get quicker.”  He explained that he reacted by instinct
before and now he was thinking before he would react.  “You can’t take the time to think at this
level of play,” he explained, “you have to react.”

“I thought
Carlos played one of the best games he’s ever played,” said Memo Gracida. 

The entire La
Herradura team did their part with Alberto Fernandez filling in successfully
for his brother Alvaro and Chilean 7-goaler Jose Donoso complimenting the play
of both f the Gracidas.

“We’re not
there yet,” cautioned Carlos, “but we’re getting closer every day.”

Gracida led all scoring with eight goals (six on penalty shots).  Memo Gracida and Alberto Fernandez scored
three goals apiece in the win.  Jeff Hall
set the pace for Orchard Hill with six goals (five on penalty shots).  Lucas Criado scored three times (twice on
penalties), and Mason Wroe added a goal in a losing effort.

Competition continues
in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup with three games slated to be played on Friday
beginning with a noon meeting between Goose Creek and Lechuza Caracas.  At 1pm, Villa Del Lago will face Crab Orchard
and at 3pm ERG will battle Faraway.