INDIO - Despite a noticeable hustle and clever playmaking by BTA’s four-goaler Miguel Gutierrez, unforced errors kept BTA on the trailing edge Sunday in the eight-goal league at Eldorado Polo Club. Stone Canyon rolled to a 9-7 finish on opportunities BTA fouling handed to No. 3 Daniel Fernandezwho didn’t miss the mark at 30- and 60-yard attempts. Fernandez converted 5 of 8 penalty shots and scored two from the field.
Gutierrez, BTA’s No. 3, scored his goals the hard way with four from the field and one on conversion. The defeat came in a match punctuated by a series of mishaps and ended with Chrys Beal on the injury list after a fall near the goal mouth.
Stone Canyon changed their lineup, scratching Hector Monserrat at back and adding Danny Rolands. Randy Russell stepped in for Sean MacLeod at No. 2.
A loose horse ran the length of the clubhouse field at the outset before a quick-thinking groom stopped its charge, an event that, in retrospect, signaled an ominous start for the weirdness that followed.
For the first time that announcer Alex Jacoy could remember, contact plays left two Stone Canyon players without mallets at the same time midway through the third chukker. BTA’s Chrys Beal seized that opportunity and scored off a quick pass from Gutierrez with 2:37 left to play. After the halftime horn, BTA was looking for ways to turn around the 6-3 deficit.
Tactical changes brought BTA within one in the fourth as No. 2 Carlitos Cabrera and Gutierrez found the angles to pass and punch their way through the uprights. Gutierrez kept the pressure on, but a right-of-way foul made on BTA’s offensive drive with 31 seconds remaining broke the momentum. Fernandez converted the penalty four.
A minute into the fifth, Gutierrez got open midfield and fired an offside shot to Beal. Undefended, Beal scrambled to goal but couldn’t make bank on a short offside strike. Looking for a second chance, BTA’s Gutierrez stopped and returned an inbound bullet on Fernandez’s knock-in when Beal and Stone Canyon’s Russell crossed paths a few yards from the posts. Beal, apparently bumped on the hindquarters, was rocked forward in the saddle as her horse recovered. Her left foot yanked clear of the stirrup as she slid over his right shoulder to the groundmallet, whip and reins still in hand.
Russell jumped off his horse to assist as officials moved quickly to attend to her. But waiting paramedics could only rush to her side on foot after they discovered their rig wouldn’t start, apparently stalled with a dead battery. Eventually, Beal slowly rose to an applauding crowd. She retired from the match with a broken arm. (photos of the fall)
BTA’s substitute, who was not identified, played out the game.
Diane Hensley can be reached at dkheditor@#msn.com.
STONE CANYON 9, BTA 7
STONE CANYON: Daniel Fernandez 7, Danny Rolands 1, Brad Schlei 1, Randy Russell.
BTA: Miguel Gutierrez 5, Chrys Beal 1, Carlitos Cabrera 1, Kelly Beal.