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Goose Creek Captures Santa Rita Abierto 16-Goal Tournament Title; Vial, Brennan Named MVPs

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Goose Creek Captures Santa Rita Abierto 16-Goal Tournament Title; Vial, Brennan Named MVPs
Amateur MVP Maureen Brennan (1) of Goose Creek hits the ball downfield with Fred Mannix (4) of Casablanca defending. Photo by Scott Fisher
WELLINGTON, FL-March 29, 2014----In a seesaw battle for six chukkers, Goose Creek knocked off Casablanca, 14-12 to win the inaugural Santa Rita Abierto 16-Goal Tournament Saturday at Grand Champions at Palm Beach Polo Club.With the game tied at 12-12 at the 1:40 mark in the final chukker, Cote Zegers lofted a penalty two shot through the goal posts to put Goose Creek ahead, 13-12, and Tano Vial scored on a penalty three to clinch the title. 
Winning team Goose Creek Maureen Brennan (1), Tommy Collingwood (2), Cote Zegers (3) and Tano Vial (4) hoisting the winning trophy. Photo by Scott Fisher
Goose Creek (Maureen Brennan, Tommy Collingwood, Cote Zegers and Tano Vial) is enjoying one of its most successful seasons in low and medium goal polo. Goose Creek has won the 12-, 14- and 16-goal tournaments."I don't know what the betting line was on this game, but I knew we had a really good team," Brennan said. "I was pretty confident that we could come here and win. All three of them were amazing. We got 150 percent from all of them today.
Grand Champions at Palm Beach Polo awards presenter Glenn Straub gives Most Valuable Amateur Player Maureen Brennan of Goose Creek her saddle award. Photo by Scott Fisher
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We stuck to our plan. Every player played hard, we all said we were going to go kill it. I don't know who other people thought was going to win but for me personally I came to win and I felt 100 percent that we had the team for it."Casablanca is a very strong team," Brennan said. "These are four real players and everyone is mounted. Look at the score. It was neck-and-neck, one-up, one-down or tied. Obviously, anyone could have won this game. We got lucky I guess at the end."
MVP Tano Vial (4) of Goose Creek. Photo by Scott Fisher
Vial was named the game's Most Valuable Player for his all-around play. Vial scored six goals, played well defensively and set up his Chile countryman Cote Zegers on several nice goal plays. Zegers finished with a team-high eight goals."This was a tough game," Vial said. "We made a good plan to play and we followed the plan that we thought would win the game and it worked."The game could have gone either way," Vial said. "They are a nice team, good team, good players. When you go goal by goal it can be anyone. We were lucky. I think we just played better."
Game Most Valuable Player Tano Vial (4) of Goose Creek charges downfield with Juancito Bollini (2) of Casablanca defending. Photo by Scott Fisher
Brennan, one of the sport's top woman players, was named Most Valuable Amateur Player of the tournament."The best thing about this team is the vibe," Collingwood said. "Everyone gets along so well. It's easy to feed off these guys. I've never played with these guys before but hopefully I will again in the future."
Tommy Collingwood (2) of Goose Creek working the near side with Fred Mannix (4) of Casablanca defending. Photo by Scott Fisher
Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan, Fred Mannix), trailing until late in the fourth quarter, played well to work itself back into contention. With 21 seconds left in the fourth chukker, Roldan scored one of his team-high eight goals, to give Casablanca the lead (8-7) for the first time in the game.The lead changed hands ten more times before Zegers scored to put his team back in the lead for good and Vial added an insurance goal with 38 seconds left.
Casablanca's Grant Ganzi (1) defies gravity reaching for a shot. Photo by Scott Fisher
"I am very happy for the team," Zegers said. "It was close the whole game. I always have confidence in my team but I was scared. It could have gone to anyone. We ended up scoring more but the lead was turning all the time, we were up, they were up."It was not one of those games that you know you are going to win," Zegers said. "I love playing with Tano, Maureen and Tommy. They are amazing. We matched up with them really nice. We were playing against some nice players. Tommy was amazing, never intimidated by anyone. Tano deserved the MVP."
Tommy Collingwood (2) of Goose Creek works the ball around defender Fred Mannix (4) of Casablanca. Photo by Scott Fisher
Collingwood, a Wellington High alum and young up-and-coming pro, escaped injury when his horse got tangled up with another horse and he tumbled to the field bruising his left shoulder."I am really happy with our performance and how I played against Nic and Fred, who is 6 goals here but 9 goals in Argentina," Collingwood said. "Nic can hit the ball 150 yards. Juancito was amazing knocking the hell out of everybody and Grant is improving every day more and more.
Casablanca's Nic Roldan (3) hits the ball just past Tommy Collingwood (2) of Goose Creek. Photo by Scott Fisher
"Our team today I think maybe we pulled it off in the end," Collingwood said. "I almost had a heart attack there when they took away one of our goals on the challenge. It's all part of polo. If the same play happened to us we would have asked for the challenge. I thought the referees were really good, the field played quite well and the footing was amazing."It was a game where instant replay and team challenges played a key role. Brennan, like many other player-patrons, said she is in favor of instant replay."I am for it," she said. "We don't necessarily know all the rules yet or the protocol but it made sense after they explained it all and I understood it. I think it's a cool idea."
Casablanca's Nic Roldan (3) drives the ball downfield for one of his eight goals. Photo by Scott Fisher
There were four team challenges executed during the game.Goose Creek was the first to challenge an umpire's call with 5:34 left in the second chukker and won its challenge. A minute later, Casablanca used its first-half challenge and lost its team review. Casablanca used its second-half challenge with 3:03 left in the sixth chukker and won which resulted in Vial's goal being nullified. Casablanca challenged again with 38 seconds left in the game but lost the challenge.
Steve Lane, independent fourth official in the PoloNow Network video truck, watching one of the game's 70 instant replays on an i-Pad with producers Mike Ferreira and Eric Monahan working the monitors in the background. Photo by Scott Fisher
PoloNow Network handled 70 instant replays and four challenges during the game, including a key challenge by Casablanca with 38 seconds remaining that was upheld allowing Vial to convert the final goal of the game.Since Grand Champions Polo Club introduced instant replay and team challenges in January, the first club worldwide to introduce the state-of-the-art technology, there have been 25 challenges used by various teams during the Grand Champions at Palm Beach Polo season. 
Umpire Horton Schwartz, Casablanca teammates Fred Mannix (4), Nic Roldan (3), Juancito Bollini (2) and Grant Ganzi (1) and Goose Creek teammates Maureen Brennan (1), Tommy Collingwood (2), Cote Zegers (3) and Tano Vial (4). Photo by Scott Fisher
The tournament is named after Melissa Ganzi's grandmother who passed away on Dec. 29, 2012.For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.Game video and live webcasts can also be seen at PoloNow Network at http://www.polonow.tv/.
A closeup of the stately polo player on top of the Santa Rita Abierto winning trophy. Photo by Scott Fisher
2014 HIGH GOAL SEASONMARCH 30-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships: TUESDAY: Flight Options vs. Coca Cola,  1 p.m.; Audi vs, Alegria, 3 p.m.;  APRIL 6: Audi vs. Coca-Cola, noon; Alegria vs. Flight Options, 3 p.m.; APRIL 10: Audi vs. Flight Options 4 p.m.; APRIL 13: Quarterfinals; APRIL 16: Semifinals; APRIL 20: Hall of Fame Cup Final, U.S. Open final.GRAND CHAMPIONS AT PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5-goal); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; March 18-30, Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals); March 23-31, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament.APRIL: 6-17, USPA The National President's Cup, 16-17, Las Acacias (5-goal); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goal); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16-goal).
Grand Champions at PB Polo trophy table for the Santa Rita Abierto 16-Goal Tournament final. Photo by Scott Fisher
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULESUNDAY: 8-goal Limited Edition Series Final, Far Niente vs. Hawk Hill at Cypress Field, 10 a.m.; 5-goal Madelon Bourdieu Memorial Final, Elegante at Patagones Azul, 10 a.m.; Handicap Final, Pony Express vs. Grand Champions.GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)SATURDAYS: ProKidz Tournament, 2 p.m.APRIL 4-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International TournamentAPRIL 8-12: Women's Championship Tournament
Players, families and polo fans were treated to Grand Champions at PB Polo's weekly free asado cooked by Herman Moreira of Cilantro's. Photo by Scott Fisher
GRAND CHAMPIONS AT PALM BEACH POLO 2014 SPRING SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)APRIL 17-19: Grand Champions CupAPRIL 24-27: The USPA Spring ChallengeMAY 1-4: The USPA Sun CupMAY 8-11: The USPA Eastern ChallengeMAY 15-18: The Polo Gear Challenge CupMAY 22-26: The MemorialGRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUBWHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women's Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April. 
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