Audi, Newport Advance Into Sunday’s USPA Fall Classic Final At Grand Champions Polo Club
Casablanca’s Grant Ganzi (1) puts the pressure on Newport’s Guille Aguerro (2). Photo by Scott Fisher
Grand Champions Polo Club http://gcpoloclub.com/
Release Date: 2013-10-04
WELLINGTON, FL—Oct. 4, 2013---After two hotly-contested semifinal games, Audi and Newport advanced into Sunday’s championship final of the USPA Fall Classic presented by the Tackeria at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Newport will be making its second consecutive championship appearance in two weeks after a thrilling 9-8 overtime victory over Casablanca in the second semifinal game. Last weekend Newport lost in the final, 11-8, to Paladin.
Audi advanced with an 11-4 victory over Beluga in the opening semifinal.
Both games were played Friday at Palm City Polo Club in Boca Raton.
Action moves to Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington on Sunday with the final at 10 a.m. followed by the consolation between Casablanca and Beluga at noon.
In the second semifinal, Newport (Gene Goldstein, Guille Aguerro, Luis Escobar, Kaisser Maakar) broke an 8-8 tie in overtime when Aguerro took a loose ball and scored the winning goal 28 seconds into the chukker.
“I think Gigi just capitalized when Kris hit the ball a little further than he wanted to,” Goldstein said. “Gigi jumped on it and took a gamble and scored. If he had missed it, it probably would have been a goal the other way. I think we have our work cut out for us on Sunday.”
The game was a seesaw battle from the opening chukker and could have gone either way. Both teams played extremely well in the fast-paced game.
Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Matt Coppola, Kris Kampsen, Wes Finlayson) led 7-6 going into the sixth chukker. Back-to-back Newport goals from Maakar and Escobar gave them an 8-7 lead in the final minutes of the game.
Kampsen’s penalty shot with less than 20 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime.
Aguerro led Newport scoring with four goals and Escobar had three. Goldstein and Maakar each scored one goal.
For Casablanca, 15-year-old Grant Ganzi, a sophomore at St. Andrew’s School, led scoring with four goals and played well defensively. Matt Coppola added two and Kampsen had one.
“That was a very tough team, those guys run all the time,” Goldstein said. “Gigi was getting used to his horses and played very well today. Luis is very clever, you can always get yourself in the final with Luis. He finds a way to work it out there.
“Grant Ganzi is terrific, he is getting to be a big pain in the butt,” Goldstein said. “He was making a mess out of it for us out there. He is playing so well. You can’t leave him alone for one second. He killed us. He stays in position, puts up the passes and finishes the plays.”
In the opening game, father-and-son Juan and Juancito Bollini teamed with familiar teammates Marc Ganzi and Brandon Phillips. The chemistry was apparent from the opening chukker.
Beluga (Misha Rodzianko, Leo Mandelbaum, Joey Casey, Carlitos Gracida) kept it close for the first two chukkers (Audi led 3-2) but missed several scoring opportunities.
Audi pulled away in the third chukker with three unanswered goals for a 6-2 halftime lead. The closest Beluga came was early in the fourth chukker (6-3) on Carlitos Gracida’s goal at the 4:20 mark. After that, Audi was in the driver's seat, scoring at will.
Audi had balanced scoring from its’ lineup. Ganzi and the Bollinis each scored three goals and Phillips added two. Carlitos Gracida, son of former 10-goaler and Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida, who was among the crowd, scored three goals for Beluga, which picked up one goal on handicap.
“It was a beautiful game,” said Juan Bollini Sr. “The other team was a strong team, their four guys were running very hard but I think we played very smart as a team. Everyone was in position and the four of us knew what to do on the field. The difference of the game is we have played together before and we played smart. Our strategy was to control the ball, keep passing the ball and running like crazy.”
For Juan Sr., it’s always a thrill to play alongside his son, Juancito, 18, a freshman at Florida Atlantic University.
“It’s always a pleasure and I thank Marc and Melissa to give me the chance to play with my son,” Bollini said. “You can’t ask for anything better than playing with your son in something you love to do. It’s the same feeling that Marc has playing with Grant. Polo is my job but it is my passion and to share that with my son I am in heaven.”
The USPA Fall Classic, presented by the Tackeria, is the second of nine tournaments scheduled for the fall at Grand Champions, including two 20-goal tournaments in November for the club’s sixth season.
The Tackeria, located at 13501 South Shore Boulevard in Wellington, is a complete equestrian shop catering to all horse sports including polo.
The store carries a full range of polo gear, saddles and apparel. Store hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The remaining Grand Champions fall tournaments are the Oct. 13-15 USPA Kay Colee Memorial Tournament; Oct. 18-20 US Trust Cup, Oct. 25-27 USPA Fall Plates; Nov.1-3 Pedro Morrison Memorial and Nov. 8-10 Palm Restaurant Invitational.
The two 20-goal tournaments are the prestigious Oct. 30-Nov. 9 USPA North America Cup and Nov. 13-24 The National 20-Goal Championship.
During the 2012 fall season, Audi dominated the season winning back-to-back USPA North America Cup and USPA National 20-Goal Tournament titles with Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan and Carlos Gracida. In the national 20-goal final, Audi edged Piaget, 10-9.
The fall season, great preparation for the upcoming 20- and 26-goal seasons in Wellington, is fun and competitive. Rosters and lineups change from tournament to tournament. Evenly-matched teams are put together to help build players skills and performance.
All tournaments are USPA-sanctioned and have grown in stature since their start in the mid-1990s.
GRAND CHAMPIONS FALL SCHEDULE
Oct. 4-6, USPA Fall Classic presented by The Tackeria
Oct. 13-15, USPA Kay Colee Memorial
Oct. 18-20, US Trust Cup
Oct. 25-27, USPA Fall Plates
Oct. 30-Nov. 9, USPA North America Cup
Nov. 1-3, Pedro Morrison Memorial
Nov. 8-10, Palm Restaurant Invitational
Nov. 13-24,The National 20-Goal Championship
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 561-644-5050.