WELLINGTON, Fl., January 13, 2017---- In front of a packed house at International Polo Club Palm Beach, Grand Champions Polo Club’s remarkable journey in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup continued on Thursday.
The first-year team, making its 20-goal debut this season, advanced into Wednesday’s semifinals with a hardfought 8-6 victory over Postage Stamp Farm.
The foursome of Marc Ganzi, substituting for his son Grant, Nic Roldan, Inaki Laprida and Juancito Bollini was pushed to the limit by Postage Stamp Farm, also making its IPC 20-goal debut.
Ganzi, 18, a freshman at Lynn University and one of the youngest players in the eight-team tournament, sat out the game as a precaution after a riding accident during aWednesday practice session. He had five stitches to close a split lip. He is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday.
Ganzi watched the game from the players’ tent cheering his teammates on.
“My dad came in, played well and scored some important goals,” Ganzi said. “He didn’t do too badly on my horses. My dad and I are different players so it wasn’t the same team.
“I thought the game was going to be more open. I was surprised we played a little more close, a little grittier. They did well and won by two and that’s what matters. Now we’re in the semis.”
It was Grand Champions’ third victory in eight days. The team had already clinched a spot in Sunday’s mini-quarterfinals but now is assured three extra days of rest for its horses and practice sessions for a team that had never played together until this season.
Grand Champions also defeated veteran teams Goose Creek and Coca-Cola in other bracket games to finish 3-0 in its bracket.
“We have a good run and we are going to keep it going,” Ganzi said. “We are here to win this tournament. Today was a good step forward.”
The first-year team was relentless on defense against Annabelle Gundlach, Kris Kampsen, former 10-goaler Mariano Aguerre and Brandon Phillips in a penalty-marred game.
In the first half alone there were 17 fouls, nine by Postage Stamp Farm.
The teams were deadlocked three times (2-2 after the first chukker, 3-3 in the second chukker and 5-5 in the fifth chukker).
Grand Champions regained the lead and momentum for good in the fifth chukker when Roldan converted a penalty-two for a 6-5 advantage. Laprida picked up a loose ball near the goal to score again late in the chukker for a 7-5 lead.
Ganzi gave Grand Champions a three-goal lead (8-5) after a nice goal run and 60-yard approach shot. Aguerre scored in a crowd with a little more than three minutes remaining to cut the lead to two.
After Grand Champions lost its second-half challenge, Kampsen had an opportunity to come within one goal but his penalty-four attempt was wide. The team exchanged possessions with Ganzi just missing one final goal attempt before time ran out.
Roldan led scoring with a game-high four goals, all on penalty goals, bringing his tournament total to 17 goals, including 14 on penalty shots. Ganzi had three goals and Laprida added one. Kampsen led Postage Stamp Farm with three goals, Aguerre had two and Gundlach scored one goal.
In the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader, Goose Creek, led by Mariano Gonzalez’ seven goals, defeated Coca-Cola, 11-6. His son Peke added three goals. Mariano Gonzalez scored an incredible back shot past defender Julian de Lusarreta that weaved just around the post and through the goal.
For the first time, USPA Polo Network is live streaming the IPC winter season with content from Wellington-based ChukkerTV, the production company for the USPA.
The tournament, created in 2005, is named after Joe Barry, a big-hitting 9-goal ranked American player, born and raised in Truscott, Tex., and one of the most well-liked players in the game. He dominated polo in the 1960s and 1970s.
The six-time U.S. Open winner was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 1999. He also won three Gold Cups, three Silver Cups as well as Coronation and Camacho Cup trophies. Barry died on May 18, 2002 at age 58.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
2017 WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Women’s Wednesday Polo at Pony Express Field 2: Jan. 18,10 & 11 a.m.
Metropolitan Cup (6 goal): Friday, Banks Mills vs. Hawk Hill, 3:30 p.m. at Pony Express; Jan. 14, Saturday, Grand Champions vs. Designer Hair By Nikki, 11 a.m., at Santa Rita Aspen Field; Jan. 15, Sunday, Pony Express vs. Willow Farm,noon; Jan. 20, Friday, Hawk Hill vs. Pony Express, 3:30 p.m.;Jan. 21, Saturday, Bank Mills vs. Grand Champions Polo Club, 10 a.m.; Jan. 22, Sunday, Designer Hair By Nikki vs. Willow Farm, noon; Jan. 28, Saturday, Championship Final and Handicap Final.
Aspen Valley Cup (8 goal): Friday, Seacap vs. Dutta Corp, 1 p.m. at Santa Rita Buenos Aires Field; Jan. 15, Sunday, Hawk Hill vs. Dutta Corp, 10 a.m. and Odosan vs. Patagones, noon;Jan. 17, Tuesday, Seacap vs. Grand Champions Polo Club, 3 p.m.; Odosan vs. Grand Champions Polo Club, 3:30 p.m.;Jan. 21, Saturday, Patagones vs. Seacap, 11 a.m.; Jan. 22,Sunday, Hawk Hill vs. Grand Champions Polo Club, 10 a.m.;Jan. 24, Tuesday, Dutta Corp vs. Odosan, 3:30 p.m.; Jan. 29,Sunday, Final 10 a.m., Handicap Final, noon.
The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series: Saturday, Beverly Equestrian vs. Travieso, 3 p.m., at Grand Champions Field 2;Jan. 15, Sunday, GSA vs. Park Place, 10 a.m.; Jan. 18,Wednesday, Patagones vs. Park Place, 3 p.m.; Jan. 20, Friday, Audi vs. Beverly Equestrian, 3 p.m.; Jan. 21, Saturday, Palm Beach Equine vs. GSA, 3 p.m.; Jan. 22, Sunday, Audi vs. Flexjet, 10 a.m.; Jan. 22, Sunday, Dutta Corp vs. Beverly Equestrian, noon; Jan. 24, Tuesday, Palm Beach Equine vs. Park Place, 1 p.m. and GSA vs. Patagones, 3 p.m.; Jan. 26,Thursday, Audi vs. Dutta Corp, 3 p.m.; Jan. 28, Saturday, Handicap Final, 1 p.m. and Final, 3 p.m.
FEBRUARY: 1-26, Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal) and Top Pony 8 Goal Series; 1-25, USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy.
FEBRUARY 22-March 11: Sterling Cup (20 goal) and John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (Subs. Handicap).
MARCH: 1-26, Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6 goal) and The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; 1-25, The Top Pony 12-Goal Series.
MARCH 1-11: $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament (Single elimination).
MARCH 15-April 1: National 20-Goal; Santa Rita Abierto (Subs. Handicap).
APRIL 1-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), winner-take-all single elimination.
APRIL 1-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals).
APRIL 5-8: WCT Finals and Women’s Polo Week.
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi, Flexjet and first-year team Grand Champions Polo Club. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes complimentary food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.