The emphasis isn't on the individual, it's about Las Vinas. No truer words were ever spoken as Las Vinas rallied to defeat Black Berg/Bodega 9-6 to win the Aiken Polo Club's USPA Governors Cup 6 goal Sunday morning at Whitney Field.
Black Berg/Bodega opened the scoring on Derrick Berg's goal from the field. Black Berg/Bodega would increase their lead to 2 goals on a successful penalty no. 2 conversion by Marcos Onetto. No lead is ever safe, and Las Vinas found their rhythm as Eddy Martinez scored twice from the field to level the score at 2-2.
A successful 60-yard penalty conversion by Luis Galvan gave Black Berg/Bodega back the lead. Galvan and Onetto's teamwork would be showcased during the middle chukkers as Onetto picked up his second goal of the game and first from the field. Las Vinas would reduce the deficit to 1 goal courtesy of a successful penalty no. 2 by Eddy Martinez. Black Berg/Bodega held a 1 goal advantage going into the half.
A lightning fast start by Black Berg/Bodega was a result of their teamwork, it continued to create opportunities, and this time in the third chukker as Onetto and Galvan's cohesiveness resulted in Galvan's 2nd goal of the game. The teamwork continued to manifest itself, and Black Berg/Bodega would follow their previous score with a goal by Onetto, who went two-thirds of the length of the field on his horse Elephant, who would earn Best Playing Pony honors. Las Vinas continued to work, and scored the final goal of the chukker via the penalty shot route as Martinez's successful conversion kept the game close.
"In the third chukker, we were hitting the ball with not enough angle, they were picking it up, so we were playing their game," said Eddy Martinez, Las Vinas.
A series of adjustments, a focused mindset, and the individuals commitment toward a common destination, presented a very different look to the Las Vinas roster in the final chukker. Las Vinas scored 5 unanswered goals as they held the opposition scoreless. Eddy Martinez scored the period's first 2 goals from the field tying the game as Las Vinas' sense of harmony served as a catalyst to go forward toward their objective. Cesar Rengel scored the go ahead goal, and successive penalty conversions by Martinez capped the scoring. The USPA Governors Cup was the first time Stacie Rodriguez, Cesar Rengel, Mario Maldonado and Eddy Martinez have played together as a team.
"We made some adjustments. knowing that we needed to win the throw-ins," said Martinez. "That was the difference in the game. They came and they played, and they play with a lot of heart. Their horses were outstanding. Everybody was unbelievable. We wanted to keep going, and obviously the momentum shifted a little bit toward us. We took advantage of it. We kept on going hard to the man. They did a phenomenal job. We played classic polo.
Martinez scored 8 goals en route to a Most Valuable Player performance. However, Martinez quickly credited his teammates for his success in the game. Las Vinas' team chemistry was the key variable in the equation.
"When you play with people, and they want to play for the team, it's a huge difference," said Martinez. "It's not about the individual here, it's about Las Vinas."
The mare Martinez played in the fourth chukker also contributed to Las Vinas' success.
"I got Cha Cha right here in Aiken," said Martinez. "She's been with me since she was a baby. I've had her since she was three-years-old. My wife made that mare for me, and you can see the results."