ANINI FIELD – The Savage Pearls Women’s Challenge provided quite a show for Polo fans at Anini Field on Sunday.
The women of Savage Pearls defeated the gentlemen of Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty 6-3 in a four chukker match.
Three dashing ladies from El Dorado Polo Club in Indio, California – Kate Weber, Trish Fitzgerald, and Sheila Hille – teamed up with Kauai’s Krista Hawley to form Robin Savage’s Savage Pearls team.
This team was not to be denied, and with teamwork, speed, and cunning, it had spectators on the edge of their chairs throughout.
Savage Pearls went into the match with a handicap of 3 goals.
Hawley cleared the toss in to start the match with a short shot finally controlled by John Elwin. But Hille stole the ball only to lose it to Peter Cameron who passed nicely to Max Secunda. With confidence, Secunda took off for the goal posts but lost the ball to Hille, who demonstrated some excellent hooking.
Hille fired off a long drive to send the ball over the end line.
Secunda took the knock in with a superb long drive to Cameron who charged off toward the goal line, but Hille smartly backed the ball with a remarkable backhand shot picked up by Fitzgerald then snaked away by Secunda.
Aided by Cameron, Secunda tried to get past the ladies and, in the maneuver, drew a penalty. Hille took the penalty shot for Savage Pearls with a dramatic long drive down the field. No matter how hard Bali Hai tried to score, Savage Pearls would block the play.
Finally, with bulldog determination, Secunda scored for Bali Hai.
When the horn sounded it was Savage Pearls 3, Bali Hai 1.
Savage Pearls’ Kate Weber hit the field like a hurricane in the second chukker, and proceeded to dominate play.
She cleared the ball from the toss in only to lose it to Cameron, but then retrieved it immediately. When Bali Hai put the heat on to gain control they garnered a penalty.
With a free hit from 40 yards to an undefended goal Weber thrilled spectators with a penalty shot expertly driven between the pylons to score.
Then followed some excellent horsemanship, stick work, bumping, and hooking as players tried to get into scoring positions.
Bali Hai drew another penalty in the melee, but when Weber took the penalty shot, she lost the ball to an aggressive Secunda. He fired off a brilliant offside forehand shot, then engaged in a horse race with a determined Fitzgerald before successfully slamming the ball between the pylons to put one on the board for Bali Hai.
For the final two minutes of the chukker, Bali Hai remained in control; and, in fast play, Elwin powered his way to goal to tack another one up.
The third chukker was characterized by intense offensive and defensive play by both teams. Most of the time they swarmed up and down the field, trading the ball back and forth, with attempts to score blocked.
The Bali Hai gentlemen were taken aback by the hard, determined riding by the ladies of Savage Pearls. The ladies used brilliant strategy in their play. Weber battled continuously with Secunda, neither one giving an inch, and this impressed the fans. In one of these tight exchanges, Secunda landed on the ground, but hopped right back on his mount. Finally, amid clashing sticks and the roar of the fans, Weber plowed through the traffic to score for Savage Pearls.
A determined Bali Hai team returned to the field for the final chukker with hopes of evening the score. However, their team play just didn’t gel, whereas Savage Pearls played with coordination and strategy.
Continually they would stretch out in a line and move the ball along with brilliant riding off and expert stick work. Secunda was everywhere trying to infiltrate Savage Pearls’ defense. He fired off two long drives but lost the ball to Weber. Again these two went at it with such gusto it was exciting to watch. In a dramatic play Weber punched the ball between the pylons to score.
The remainder of the chukker was full of high speed action but no scores. When the final horn sounded it was Savage Pearls 6, Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai 3.
Robin Savage of Savage Pearls presented the winners with beautiful koa bowls each having an engraved plaque, “Savage Pearls Women’s Challenge, June 30, 2002.” While on Kauai Weber, Fitzgerald, and Hille had a great time. Hostess Hawley had them all over the island surfing, kayaking, beaching, and helicopter touring. All three vow they will return for the Challenge next year!