INDIO Mariano Gutierrez’s 25-yard tap-in and Dan Walker’s pair of points in the final two minutes of the fourth chukker lifted Klentner Ranch to a 6-3 lead and cleared the way for the team’s 8-4 upset of No.1 ranked Fish Creek in the finals of January’s 12-goal league at Eldorado Polo Club.
Klentner Ranch, 3-1 in the league on a loss to Fish Creek in overtime, sized them up then knocked them down in a low-scoring, heavy hazing game that reminded strategists that a swarm theory works. Patron Justin Klentner’s smart offensive work and phalanx of three four-goalers stalled the best efforts by Fish Creek veteran Julio Zavaleta at seven goals and lightning quick Diego Cossio at four goals.
Fish Creek floundered, held scoreless in the second half of the match save a lone goal in the fifth off Zavaleta’s mallet.
Tim Rudy and Gutierrez engineered the go-ahead goal on a turnover after the half. Klentner’s No. 4 Walker caught, hooked and held Zavaleta at bay on Fish Creek’s drive toward goal. Cossio, never out of position, rushed in to pick up a dead ball left in their wake. His nearside neck shot caught an errant bounce as Gutierrez moved in for the bump. Gutierrez makes the steal and whipped around for the pass to Rudy. Klentner held Fred Mannix in the front of the pack. Rudy evades Fish Creek’s Julie Roenisch and hits a 110-yard bomb out ahead. Walker guards Zavaleta. Cossio trails Gutierrez. Rudy picked up Cossio clearing Gutierrez to ride through for the tap shot.
Frustration mounted for Fish Creek as a right of way error allowed Walker to score on a penalty two conversion with 2:40 left to play in the fourth. Another error left Walker positioned to capitalize, connecting with Rudy for a 45-yard offside slam in the last 20 seconds.
In the fifth, Zavaleta raced to goal on a picture-perfect break from Mannix’s pop shot out of the lineup. Rudy rushed to catch him, but could only watch as he fired off a lofty offside shot that sailed 75 yards through the posts.
Down 6-4 in the sixth, Klentner Ranch sank any hopes for a Fish Creek rally when Gutierrez broke for back-to-back goals on their crumbling defense with :59 remaining. Fish Creek surrendered 15 seconds before the final horn.
KLENTNER RANCH 8, FISH CREEK 4
Klentner Ranch: Mariano Gutierrez 4, Dan Walker 3, Tim Rudy 1, Justin Klentner.
Fish Creek: Julio Zavaleta 3, Diego Cossio 1, Fred Mannix, Julie Roenisch.