By Alex Webbe
Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Kris Kampsen, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini) outlasted a determined Team USPA (Jared Sheldon, Patrick Uretz, Jesse Bray, Felipe Viana and Jeff Blake) to win the 2014 USPA National Twenty Goal Championship in a high-scoring, 14-13 win Sunday afternoon at the Grand Champions Polo Club.
Team USPA received two goals by handicap from the 18-goal Flight Options team and watched as American 8-goaler Nic Roldan quickly tied it up with a goal from the field and a penalty conversion. Felipe Viana countered with a 40-yard penalty conversion, 3-2. With twenty-one seconds on the clock, Roldan tied it up with his third goal of the chukker to end the first period all even at 3-3.
Flight Options continued to pound the young Team USPA in the second with Kris Kampsen opening with a penalty goal followed by a goal from the field to move ahead, 5-3. Team USPA continued to put pressure on the Flight Options resulting in a pair of penalties that were converted by Viana. The score was deadlocked at 5-5.
Roldan took early possession of the ball in the third, blistering it through the Team USPA goalposts from over 90-yards out, 6-5. Viana added another 40-yard penalty goal, 6-6. Goals from Roldan and Juan Bollini put Flight Options on top, 8-6. Viana scored the final goal of the chukker to bring Team USPA to within a goal of the lead, 8-7, at the end of the first half.
A minute into the fourth chukker Roldan blasted the ball through the goalposts from over a hundred yards out, 9-7Goals from Viana and Jesse Bray tied it at 9-9, and Jeff Blake’s first goal of the game put Team USPA in the lead, 10-9. A great individual effort by Kampsen tied the game once again with just eight seconds on the clock. At the end of the fourth it was deadlocked at 10-10.
Both defenses stepped it up in the fifth. Viana scored the first goal of the chukker at the 5:01 mark for an 11-10 advantage as the pace of the game continued to escalate. Two minutes later Kampsen tied it with the final goal of the chukker, 11-11.
Bollini scored the first goal of the sixth chukker just two minutes into the final chukker, 12-11, and Kampsen’s fourth goal of the day had Flight Options in the lead, 13-11, but Team USPA fought back. Just thirty seconds later Viana answered Kampsen’s goal with a penalty conversion, 13-12, and tied it with another penalty shot at 13-13 with just under three minutes left in regulation time. A costly foul by Team USPA sent Roldan to the penalty line at the 2:23 mark where he scored the final goal of the game for a hard-fought 14-13 win.
Viana led all scoring with nine goals (eight on penalty conversions). Bray and Blake added single goals and the team received two goals by handicap. Roldan led the Flight Options attack with eight scores (two on penalty shots) and was named MVP for his efforts. Kampsen scored four times and Bollini added two goals for the victory.
Zorrito, a Bay Gelding owned by Halo Polo and played by Jesse Bray, was named Best Playing Pony.
Palm Beach Polo 16, Casablanca 14
In a high-scoring fast-paced game earlier in the afternoon Palm Beach Polo (Glenn Straub, Guille Aguero, Jeff Hall and Brandon Phillips) ran out to an 11-5 halftime score before hanging on to record a 16-4 win over Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Julio Arellano and Juan Jose Brane).
Casablanca received one goal by handicap and made it 2-0 on a goal from the field from American 9-goaler Julio Arellano. Jeff Hall and Marc Ganzi traded goals as Casablanca held the lead, 3-1. A goal from the field from Guille Aguero and a penalty conversion from Hall closed out the chukker with the teams tied at three goals apiece, 3-3.
Grant Ganzi scored the first goal of the second period on a well-executed neck shot at a severe angle, 4-3. Hall took the ensuing throw-in and raced down the field to tie it at 4-4. Consecutive goals from Brandon Phillips had Palm Beach Polo in the lead, 6-4. Marc Ganzi scored from the field to cut the led to a single goal, 6-5. With under a minute left in the period, Phillips scored his third goal of the game to extend the Palm Beach Polo lead to two goals, 7-5.
Palm Beach Polo owned the third chukker. Shutout defense was complimented by a pair of goals from Aguero, a goal from Glenn Straub and a goal from Phillips. At the end of the first half it was Palm Beach Polo with a commanding 11-5 advantage.
A goal from Hall opened the second half, 12-5, when Casablanca found their rhythm. Single goals from Arellano, Marc Ganzi and Grant Ganzi ended the period as Casablanca began to cut into the Palm Beach Polo lead, 12-8.
The two teams traded goals in the fifth with Aguero and Phillips (penalty conversion) scoring for Palm Beach Polo while Casablanca responded with single goals from Grant Ganzi (penalty shot) and Marc Ganzi. The Palm Beach Polo remained in front by four goals, 14-10.
Guille Aguero’s fifth goal of the game put Palm Beach Polo in front by five goals, 15-10. Arellano responded 30 seconds later with a goal from the field, 15-11. Phillips made it 16-11 Consecutive goals from Grant Ganzi and Arellano cut further into the Palm Beach Polo lead, 16-13, but time was running out. A Penalty 1 was called against Palm Beach Polo with just seconds on the clock, awarding them a goal, but it wasn’t enough. Time expired as Palm Beach Polo rode off with the win, 16-14.
Phillips led the Palm Beach Polo attack with six goals (two on penalty shots). Aguero added five goals; Hall scored four times and Straub added a goal for the win. Arellano, Grant Ganzi and Marc Ganzi scored four goals apiece. Casablanca received one goal by handicap and another on a Penalty 1.