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Westchester Cup coverage

England wins Westchester Cup in Overtime, 12-11

By Alex Webbe

Out-gunned and out-horsed, the United States polo team (Marc Ganzi, Polito Pieres,

Nic Roldan and Mike Azzaro) led 8-7 at the end of the first half and forced the game into

overtime, as they outscored England 2-0 in the sixth chukker, before losing 12-11.

Playing an away game in international polo usually means that you will not be riding

your horses, a distinct disadvantage in a game where the horse is considered to be

as much as 80% of the game.  Additionally, the US team faced an English team of

four professional players, ranging from six to eight goals, while the US took the field

with amateur Marc Ganzi, who carries a 1-goal handicap, but until the final goal, it was

anyone’s game.

The 26-goal US team received two goals by handicap from the 28-goal English

foursome, but Mark Tomlinson scored the first goal of the game for England who trailed

2-1.  Mike Azzaro scored on a beautifully delivered pass from Nic Roldan to extend the

lead back to two goals, 3-1.  James Beim accounted for the final goal of the opening

chukker.  The US was in front, 3-2.

Goals from Beim and Mark Tomlinson had England in the lead in the second period, but

Pieres got loose to score his first goal of the day.  The score was all even at 4-4 going

into the third chukker.

Polito Pieres took control of the game in the third chukker for the United States, scoring

three consecutive goals, 7-4, before a US foul interrupted the rhythm.  Luke Tomlinson

converted the shot.  He and Beim added single goals to lock it up at 7-7.  Nic Roldan

scored the final goal of the chukker to give the US an 8-7 advantage at the end of the

first half.

A determined English team rode onto the pitch in the fourth chukker and shut down the

US offense.  Mark Tomlinson tied it up, 8-8, with his third goal of the game, and Beim

put them ahead for the first time since the second chukker, 9-8.  A US foul sent Luke

Tomlinson to the penalty line where he converted for a goal from 60-yards out, 10-8, to

end the scoring in the chukker.

Polito Pieres cut the lead to a single goal, 10-9, in the fifth, but John-Paul Clarkin kept it

a two goal game, 11-9, with his first score on the day to end the period.

While England tried to put it away in the sixth, the US team’s resolve stiffened.  After

missing on a 60-yard penalty conversion, Roldan scored on a great shot on goal that cut

the English led to a single goal, 11-10.    Roldan had another run at goal but he shot hit

the goalpost and sat right on the goal mouth.   Azzaro backed it through the goal for the

11-11 tie, forcing an overtime period.

The United States had the first run at goal with Pieres shooting wide.  England reversed

the field and found Clarkin on a breakaway, tapping the ball through the US goalposts

for the 12-11 win.

Pieres led all scoring with five goals.  Teammates Roldan and Azzaro added two goals

apiece and the team received two goals by handicap.  The English goals were spread

about, with Beim leading his team with four goals.  Mark and Luke Tomlinson scored

three goals each and Clarkin scored twice, including the game-winner.

Beim was named MVP while Polito Pieres’s horse, Rollinga, was honored as Best

Playing Pony.