Orchard Hill Wins Hall of Fame Cup
By Alex Webbe
Jeff Hall the winning goal in the final chukker of play Saturday afternoon as Orchard Hill defeated Bendabout, 11-10, in the finals of the Hall of Fame Cup at the International Polo Club in Wellington.
Orchard Hill received one goal by handicap, and quickly took a 2-0 lead after a penalty conversion by 8-goaler Hall in the opening chukker.
Gillian Johnston answered with a nicely placed shot for Bendabout, but Hector Galindo scored on a beautiful neck shot to give Orchard Hill a 3-1 lead after the first chukker of play.
Goals from brothers Alejandro and Miguel Astrada sparked the Bendabout offense, but a goal from Lucas Criado and another penalty conversion by Hall kept Orchard Hill out in front, 5-3.
The third chukker proved to be a huge setback for Orchard Hill as Bendabout got single scores from each of the Astradas and a goal from Mariano Gonzalez. Time expired with Bendabout on top of a 6-5 score.
Orchard Hill tried to take back control of the game, but Bendabout wasnâ€™t having any of it. Galindo scored in the fourth period, and Alejandro Astrada converts a penalty shot to maintain the 7-6 lead.
In the fifth frame, the Astrada brothers each scored a goal while Orchard Hill got single tallies from Galindo and Hall. Bendabout was still ahead, 9-8.
With just seven-and-a-half minutes left in the winter season for Orchard Hill, the team took out all the stops.
Consistent offensive attacks were deftly defended by Bendabout time and again, but Orchard Hill continued to press.
A penalty was committed by Bendabout, and Hall tied it up, 9-9, with a penalty shot. Miguel Astrada scored to give the 10-9 lead back to Bendabout, but Orchard Hill wasnâ€™t through yet. Continued Orchard Hill pressure, and Bendabout committed another foul. Hall converted the shot to even it all at 10-10 with less than 1:30 left to play.
Again, Orchard Hill took control of the ball. Again they pressed the attack into Bendaboutâ€™s end of the field where Hall scored his sixth goal of the game for an 11-10 lead.
Bendabout took control of the ensuing throw-in and headed its attack toward the Orchard Hill goal posts. Bendabout lost the ball in front of the Orchard Hill goal, and Lucas Criado came through. A long drive cleared the ball from the goal area where a breaking Galindo picked it up and reversed the field. With Bendabout players in hopeless pursuit, Galindo carried the ball across the centerline when the final horn sounded.
â€œThat was a great backhand shot by Hall,â€ offered former international 8-goaler Dale Smicklas from the sidelines. â€œI think Iâ€™ve seen more well-placed backhand shots in the game today than I did all week,â€ he added.
Orchard Hillâ€™s Jeff Hall led all scorers with six goals and was named MVP. Galindo scored three times and Lucas Criado added a goal in the win. Orchard Hill received one goal by handicap.
Alejandro and brother Miguel Astrada each scored four times for Bendabout. Mariano Gonzalez and Gillian Johnston added single goals in the loss. Miguel Astradaâ€™s 10-year-old brown mare Pulguita was named Best Playing Pony.