On Sunday afternoon clouds, showers, heavy humidity, and eventually rain hovered over the Anini Beach Polo Field making steamy conditions for the playing of the first round of the Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Challenge Cup. However, it wasn’t anything like the steam generated by the Bali Hai and HanaleiBayteams as they took to the field for this four chukker match. This turned out to be one of those matches that had the spectators closely following play as Bali Hai came away from the hard fought, aggressive match the 7-5 winner.
Vanessa Harbers of Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty bowled in the game ball which was cleared by Krista Hawley with a shot that was backed by Max Secunda. The ball took a bad bounce and all hands thundered over it, but Secunda came away with it and fired a hard forehand to John Elwin who lost it to Ronnie Tongg. When Lloyd Ryder took over and sent the ball to Secunda, Ron Bonaguidi moved in and took over. He and Secunda engaged in a horse race riding off as they rocketed down the field vying for possession. Bonaguidi finally got out in front, but a fast moving Ryder hooked him off and took over only to lose the ball to Tongg who nicely passed to Bonaguidi. Secunda stole the ball and with the aid of Ryder moved it toward the goal only to have Tongg execute a backhand and change the line of play. Then all hands had a go at the ball with each drive being expertly backed by the opposition. Finally action really picked up, and a penalty four was called against HanaleiBay. Secunda took the free shot for Bali Hai from 60 yards to a defended goal, and with a precision forehand drive sent the ball between the goal posts to put Bali Hai on the scoreboard. After Secunda cleared the toss in he maintained ball control and threaded his way through the pack and scored again. The toss in was hardly cleared by Tongg when Ryder got the ball, found himself in front of the pack, and galloped down the field and punched the ball over the goal line.
Following the toss in that launched the second period both teams bunched and bumped with such fury it’s a miracle somebody didn’t go flying off. Tongg finally cleared with a power drive backed by Secunda. Ryder shot the ball into a corner but Secunda was able to center it. Bonaguidi picked up and sent the ball to Tongg who had to cope with a forceful Ryder bumping and charging to such an extent the two went around in circles. With bulldog tenacity Ryder came away with the ball and kept it as he roared across the goal line to score for Bali Hai. Following the toss in the ball was passed back and forth until Tongg and Ryder shot down the field battling for control. When Tongg got free from Ryder, he expertly took possession and with a well-positioned shot set up a sweet opportunity for Bonaguidi to put HanaleiBayon the scoreboard. Like a flash of lightning after the toss in Ryder retaliated with a goal for Bali Hai.
The toss in for the third period was cleared and went over the side line. Tongg cleared the next toss in with a brilliant long forehand drive that almost made the goal line, but a bad bounce landed it by Secunda’s mallet. He backed the ball to Ryder who was like a loose cannon in this match as he seemed to be all over the place all the time. However, it’s difficult to get anything by Tongg whose vast experience and expertise always come through. He took over with a well-placed shot to Hawley. With her usual grace and determination she maneuvered through the crowd to score. Ryder cleared the bowl in but then had to battle Tongg for possession. Secunda came to his aid, and between the two managed to extricate the ball from Tongg. Ryder not only kept control but also kept on going right across the goal line. Hawley cleared the bowl in and with skillful tactics set up a play for Bonaguidi to drive the ball between the pylons.
The final chukker was a ripper as HanaleiBaycame in determined to close the gap while Bali Hai was just as determined to maintain their lead. Bonaguidi was the star of this chukker. Ryder cleared the toss in, and after a flurry of play, Bonaguidi held the spectators breathless as he snaked through the traffic and roared down the field to tack one up for HanaleiBay. Then he thrilled everybody when he scored again. Things got a little tense when heavy showers moved in making field conditions somewhat slippery; however, play didn’t slow. Bali Hai drew a penalty 5, and Tongg took the free hit from the point of the infraction with a long drive picked up by Bonaguidi. After both teams moved up and down the field trying to score, it was Secunda who persevered and came away with the ball to post the final score of the afternoon. When the final horn sounded it was Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai 7 and Hanalei Bay 5.
Teams: HanaleiBay: Krista Hawley, Ron Bonaguidi, Ronnie Tongg. Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty: John Elwin, Peter Cameron, Max Secunda, Lloyd Ryder. Umpire: Kamalu Sheldon.
Polo continues at Anini Polo Field next Sunday at 3:00 p.m.with the final round of the Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty Challenge Cup. The public is welcome. Adults $7.50 per person; 12-18, $5.00 per person.