ANINI FIELD – Last Sunday was a picture perfect Kaua’i afternoon for polo as the two foremost Hawaii teams – Oahu and Kauai – took to Anini Field for a four chukker match.
When all was said and done, the match ended in a 4-4 tie.
Fans are delighted that Ronnie Tongg is a regular this season. Oahu’s Chris Dawson has brought his string of ponies and his dynamic style of play to Kaua’i for a month. Waimanalo Polo Club co-President, Allan Hoe, is flying over every Sunday to play; and Kauai’s own Mike Sheehan manages to keep a foot in both camps.
Kaua’i entered the game with a handicap of one goal.
Both teams were a little on edge as they hit the field for the first chukker, each giving the other a little breathing room.
Tongg cleared from the toss in, Sheehan snaked the ball away, but Tongg got it right back and fired off a long drive down the field. It was picked up by John Elwin, who moved the ball down the field toward the goal mouth.
As the two teams bunched around the ball, Sheehan broke loose with the ball but lost it again to Tongg. Exhibiting quality teamwork Tongg, Elwin, and Ron Bonaguidi moved the ball toward the goal. However, Max Secunda obtained control, and in attempting to score sent the ball over the end line.
Tongg took the knock in for Kaua’i with a short shot followed by a power drive to Bonaguidi.
At this point, Secunda went into overdrive and instigated some hard charging and bumping against Bonaguidi who charged and bumped right back as the two went the length of the field dueling for control. As a result, the ball went over the end line.
Secunda took the knock in, struggled past a challenging Bonaguidi, and bolted down the field to put Oahu on the scoreboard.
Sheehan cleared the bowl in and Dawson picked it up. Elwin took it away and together with Tongg moved the ball along nicely. But Secunda came from out of nowhere, stole the ball, and galloped half the field to score again for Oahu.
Krista Hawley cleared the toss in with a shot to Bonaguidi who passed to Elwin. The spectators roared with approval as Elwin got out in front of the pack and rocketed toward the goal line.
But Oahu ganged up on him with Sheehan smoothly taking over moving the ball to Secunda who passed to Hoe. Tongg saved the day with an impressive back shot changing the line of play. Bonaguidi picked up but was hooked off by Dawson in front of the goal mouth. Amid a flurry of play as both teams swarmed near the goal line Elwin fired off a breathtaking near side shot to score for Kaua’i.
The second chukker started with a toss in from the area where the first chukker ended. When a pony kicked the ball over the end line, Secunda took the knock in for Oahu. He was faced with a battle line of Kauai players, and it was a thrill for the spectators to watch this talented player’s superb horsemanship and stick work as he smoothly wended his way through the opposition with a series of short shots.
But he couldn’t get past Bonaguidi, who was relentless in his determination to get the ball.
Tongg moved in with support, snaking the ball away and sending it to Bonaguidi, whose shot went over the sideline.
After the clock was stopped for a tack problem, Secunda took a knock in with a dribble; and, despite the fact that Bonaguidi was right on him, got off a shot that went two-thirds of the field.
Elwin smartly backed that with a shot picked up by Tongg, who sent it to Bonaguidi. But there was Secunda to foil the play and make a run on goal. When his shot went into the corner of the field, he astounded the fans with an amazing offside neck shot that missed the goal by inches and went over the end line.
After some thrilling offensive and defensive action, while Secunda and Bonaguidi were engaged in a nose to nose standoff, Tongg moved in and with his masterful style of stick work maneuvered to score for Kaua’i.
The third chukker bowl in was cleared by Secunda, and in the ensuing melee each player seemed to get a mallet on the ball.
Within the first minute, Dawson took control, and amidst pounding hoofs, clashing sticks, and the roar of the fans, blitzed down the field to score for Oahu.
The remainder of the chukker was a battle of wits and strategies as the ball passed back and forth between the two teams.
Tongg cleared the toss in for the final chukker. Secunda picked up sending the ball over the end line. Tongg took the knock in with a long drive followed by one that went off the radar screen. Although Elwin attempted to gain control, Hoe made a remarkable recovery. Secunda was there for Hoe’s shot, and despite heavy opposition, he punched the ball over the goal line.
At this point in the chukker, play settled down to purely offensive maneuvers with each team having a go at trying to score.
This resulted in the ball going over either the sideline or the end line.
There was a great horse race between Secunda and Tongg, who seemed to be on each other’s case all afternoon. To the delight of the fans, Hawley stepped up to the plate and with remarkable stick work took control and tacked one up for Kaua’i.
When the final horn sounded the score was Kauai Whites 4 and Oahu Blues 4.