Yesterday’s pickup had an interesting dynamic, as some of the always-there, always-serious players were missing (notably Horse and Hbach), leaving some room for a different style of play to emerge–this style of play being a more talkative, more learning style, I would say. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, here: we did play some very tough games, but when one of us would mess up both teams would laugh or give a bit more leeway on the rules because, hey, daddy isn’t around to keep us in line, amiright?
Anyway, the more relaxed atmosphere brought on a weird sort of thing that doesn’t normally happen around these parts: everyone was playing to their own potential. Not to someone’s expectation nor to what they thought was necessary, but to their own abilities. This meant that each player was bringing their own skillset to the court, which made for some really varied, interesting games.
But then Hbach did show up and ruined everything.
Well no, he didn’t (of course) ruin anything–he showed up in the last hour with a fresh pair of legs and the whole course of the day’s play shifted again. Now I had to figure out how to shut the non-tired guy down or, if he was on my team, utilize him as best I could. It was a fun mental exercise for weary bones to undertake.
When the last game came around, it was Yeager, Gene and me against Hbach, Zack and Dave. We decided to play until 5 and it developed into a really serious, really difficult game to play. I mean that in the good way: I couldn’t just rest on my laurels and watch the game unfold. It was a tough match, one full of lucky saves, beautiful shots and missed opportunities.
I did well for myself in play, trying like hell to shut down any pass or footwork that Hbach was attempting to employ (something that is hard for me to do even when have just started playing, much less after a full day of polo), and my team-mates were amazing at rotating in and out of goal, moving the ball forward, and taking the right amount of time to shoot the ball on goal.
The other team, for their part, was tremendously good at disrupting our plays and keeping the ball in our defensive half. They kept great position and made it very far from an easy win for us.
But by the end, we did win with a score of 5-4. It really could have gone either way, and I realized that this was probably one of the most hard-fought games I’d had during pickup.
Being a thinking man, I tried to figure out exactly what made it such a rewarding match, and I’ve cut the list down to a few things:
- We all wanted to play well
- Nobody was playing with intent to harm
- Teams were evenly matched
- Nobody gave up
I’m really hoping we can pull off that same sort of gameplay in the future–it was awesome to sense our club getting that-much better at this sport, which I think is what happened yesterday. I think we kind of took it up a notch.