It was a must win situation for Kenny Ray Fitness.
They lost a hard fought opener to Bottega 8-7 in the New Bridge USPA Pete Bostwick 12-goal, and Sunday afternoon’s game against Crestview at Meadow Hill took on added meaning. Kenny Ray Fitness would go onto post a 9-5 victory.
A defined objective seemed to be the perfect catalyst as Kenny Ray Fitness found themselves with a 3-1 lead after the first chukker. Kenny Ray Fitness received a goal as a result of the handicap differential, and they would score twice in the opening period, the first of the goals coming off the mallet of Omar Cepeda, who was playing for Antonio Galvan, and the second by way of a successful penalty conversion by Barb Uskup. Crestview’s Felipe Viana scored the first of his three goals, all by way of penalty shots, sandwiched in between Cepeda’s and Uskup’s.
Kenny Ray Fitness continued to generate quality chances, as Uskup while being closely marked, finished the play to increase the margin to three goals. Crestview’s teamwork and defense created offensive opportunities as Viana reduced the deficit with his precision at the penalty line. However, Kenny Ray Fitness’ consistent play would lead to another goal as Cepeda added to his mounting totals. Uskup’s mare in the second chukker would make a game changing difference.
“It was a great game to play,” said Uskup. “Both teams played hard and well. We just had more momentum from the get go. The game was particularly special for me as I scored a goal with a man on my hip while playing my 5-year-old homebred Surely. She is out of my line of five sisters by Riverdance, and is the first foal by him to ever play in tournament polo. It just doesn’t get better than that.”
An emphasis on defense created the desired effect for Kenny Ray Fitness, and just as they did in the previous two chukkers, some familiar names would be an offensive presence, Uskup added her third goal of the game. Viana would counter with a successful 30-yard penalty shot. Omar Cepeda’s inspired performance kept the pressure on as Gabriel Crespo would start a play that would be finished by Cepeda for his third goal of the game.
Both teams were more than up to the challenge of playing in the offensive zone, but defense would be the dominant factor in the second half’s opening chukker resulting in a scoreless fourth period.
The fifth chukker featured a scary moment, a collision separated Felipe Viana from his mount, with play being stopped as the injured athlete would leave the game. Viana would be replaced by Chesque Lorente. And the new player would pay immediate dividends converting 30-yard penalty shot. Cepeda answered by converting a penalty no. 2. However, Crestview continued to build on their new found momentum as Pelon Escapite would score from more than 125 yards out to reduce the margin to three goals.
Kenny Ray Fitness’ Gabriel Crespo removed any potential drama with the game’s final goal during the last period of play.