By Alex Webbe
Jeff Hildebrand’s Tonkawa polo team looked like world beaters Saturday afternoon when they took the field against a seemingly out-manned Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group in the finals of the 14-goal Wanderers Classic as they ran up a first chukker 4-0 score on their way to the 12-11 win.
Fifteen-year-old Agustin Arellano scored the first goal of the game in the opening seconds when he carried the opening throw-in down the field to give Tonkawa a 1-0 lead. Brandon Phillips scored minutes later followed by a pair of goals from Nic Roldan for the 4-0 score. Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group opened the second chukker with a penalty goal from Bo Goodman who finally got his team on the scoreboard, but Hildebrand responded by taking the ensuing throw-in and racing down the field for his first goal of the day and a 5-1 lead. Roldan sent a cut shot through the goal posts from 70 yards out to make it 6-1. Goals from Julian Daniels and Goodman closed out the period with Tonkawa in front, 6-3.
Brandon Phillips scored less than three minutes into the third chukker on a goal from the field and followed up with a 30-yard penalty conversion to put Tonkawa in front by five goals, 8-3. Kris Kampsen kept Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group in the mix by scoring on two penalty shots. At the end of the first half Tonkawa enjoyed a three goal, 8-5 advantage. A re-focused Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group team took the field in the second half with a new strategy, and it began to pay off immediately. “They couldn’t play with us in a run-and-gun style of play,” said Roldan, “so they tried slowing it down, playing side to side,” Consecutive goals from Daniels cut the lead to a single goal, 8-7. Phillips scored his third goal of the game to end the period with Tonkawa leading, 9-7. Roldan stole the ball from Kampsen at midfield in the opening seconds of the fifth chukker and raced unchallenged down the field for a goal, 10-7. Kampsen answered with a goal of his own moments later, 10-8. At the 1:55 mark of the period, Agustin Arellano took a pass from the throw-in and charged down the field for a goal, 11-8. Goodman retaliated with a closing goal on another long run. With one chukker left to play, Tonkawa remained in front, 11-9.
A costly foul by Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group resulted in a penalty goal scored by Hildebrand, and Tonkawa found itself with a 12-9 lead. Kampsen scored a goal from the field with 4:40 left in regulation time, and the lead was cut to two goals, 12-10. Tonkawa fouled in the goal mouth, and Kampsen converted the shot for another goal with 1:25 left on the clock. The Tonkawa defense checked in for the final minute of play, denying the Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group attack and preserving the victory, 12-11. “It was a total team win,” offered Roldan after the match. “Everyone did their job, everyone contributed,” he added.
Roldan was named MVP for his efforts while Aruba, a nine-year-old light Bay owned and played by Brandon Phillips received Best Playing Pony honors. Phillips and Roldan led the Tonkawa attack with four goals apiece. Hildebrand scored three times and Arellano added a goal for the win. Kampsen led the Mt. Brilliant/Equestrian Law Group offense with four goals. Goodman and Daniels scored three goals each in the loss.
Tonkawa holds on to win Wanderers Classic
By Alex Webbe