Oct 29, 2019 4:33 PM

Derry Heir -  Eddy Martinez, Alan Martinez, Will Donahey and Summer Kneece.
2019 Regional President's Cup Champions Derry Heir (L to R) Eddy Martinez, Alan Martinez, Bob Donahey, Will Donahey, Summer Kneece.

The Regional President’s Cup Final on October, 28, at New Bridge Polo & Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina, was highlighted by a match-up between the two remaining undefeated teams, SIG and Derry Heir. The thrilling conclusion to the tournament in which 10 teams entered, resulted in Derry Heir capturing the title with a 12-9 victory over SIG, propelled by dominant third and fourth chukkers from the duo of Alan and Eddy Martinez.

Evenly matched in nearly every way, Derry Heir and SIG were positioned to play a competitive final which was evident in the back and forth opening two chukkers. Alan Martinez opened the scoring for Derry Heir on a Penalty 2 conversion, but foul trouble slowed the pace of play and led to SIG responding with two goals of their own off the mallet of Costi Caset*. Trading goals, Derry Heir and SIG remained tied until Caset’s third and fourth goals of the game carried the SIG offense into a narrow 4-3 lead at the end of the second chukker. The pace of the game changed with improved discipline from Derry Heir, as they kept Caset off the penalty line and quickly attacked SIG’s goal, thriving behind the skill of Alan and Eddy Martinez. Combining for all three goals in a 3-0 third chukker, the duo pushed Derry Heir into their first two-goal advantage of the game with Alan Martinez’s five total goals leading all players to end the first half 6-4.

SIG's Malia Bryan and Derry Heir's Alan Martinez battle it out on the field.
SIG's Malia Bryan and Derry Heir's Alan Martinez battle it out on the field.

“My father and I know each other so well that it gives us a huge advantage. The biggest difference in our team this fall has been the improved play of Summer [Kneece] and Will [Donahey]. They have gained so much confidence and it shows. They stretched the field and were willing to do whatever was needed to help the team. I’m excited to see if we can continue our success in the National President’s Cup.”  – Alan Martinez

The organized Derry Heir defense which held SIG scoreless in the third chukker carried over into the second half as they continued to use their defensive intensity to create an attack of their own. Playing at a lightning quick pace, Derry Heir exploded to claim five goals in the fourth chukker, the Martinez duo leading the charge. Extending their lead from two to an overwhelming six goals, Derry Heir adjusted their strategy to protect the lead, staying back defensively to make SIG work for each attempt at goal. A goal each from Caset, Willie Hartnett and Deep Singh in the fifth chukker gave SIG hope, cutting the deficit to four. Derry Heir effectively slowed the game down in the final minutes to limit SIG to just one goal in the sixth, capturing the Regional President’s Cup title with a 12-9 victory.

“I feel like we played amazing as a team,” Summer Kneece said. “We used each other the whole time and we worked for one another on the field. There was a lot of communication and we always stayed positive.”

Most Valuable Player, Alan Martinez.
Most Valuable Player, Alan Martinez.

Responsible for eight goals of the winning team’s total, Alan Martinez was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to 6-year-old Argentine homebred Chelo Buena Vida, played by SIG’s Costi Caset in the fifth chukker. “In my opinion her best quality is her sensitive mouth,” Caset said. “Regardless of how fast she is going she will always stop where you want her to.”

Best Playing Pony, Chelo Buena Vida, played by Costi Caset.
Best Playing Pony, Chelo Buena Vida, played by Costi Caset.

*Costi Caset is a member of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.

All photos courtesy of ©Katie Roth.