WELLINGTON, Fl., January 19, 2017---- Grand Champions-Casablanca saw hopes of winning its first tournament of the season end on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Joe Barry Memorial Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
In front of a packed house, Mt. Brilliant knocked off previously undefeated Grand Champions-Casablanca, 11-10, to advance into Sunday’s championship final against La Indiana, 10-6 winners over Tonkawa.
It will be La Indiana and Mt. Brilliant’s first appearance in the tournament final.
The first-year Grand Champions-Casablanca team, making its 20-goal IPC debut this season, committed too many mental and unforced errors, opening the door for upset-minded Mt. Brilliant.
The foursome of Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Inaki Laprida and Juancito Bollini tried to rally in the closing minutes of the game but ran out of time.
Ganzi, 18, a freshman at Lynn University and one of the youngest players in the eight-team tournament, returned to the lineup after missing the Postage Stamp Farm game after a riding accident that required five stitches for a split lip.
Grand Champions-Casablanca entered the highly-anticipated game undefeated (3-0) after winning its bracket play games against Goose Creek, Coca-Cola and Postage Stamp Farm.
Grand Champions-Casablanca was coming off five day’s rest after earning a bye for the quarterfinals. Mt. Brilliant’s Bo Goodman, Jason Crowder, Santi Chavanne and Julian Daniels had the edge in experience when it came to making the most out of their opportunities in the fast-paced, wide open game.
Grand Champions-Casablanca could convert only 6-of-12 field shots and 4-of-7 penalty shots, which had been its strength its first three games of the season.
Mt. Brilliant scored on 10-of-19 field shots and was 1-for-1 at the penalty line. Mt. Brilliant committed more fouls (12-8) and had only one more throw-in (11-10).
The biggest margin was two goals for Mt. Brilliant until the sixth chukker when it took an 11-8 lead on Chavanne’s last goal of the game with help from Goodman’s defense taking Bollini out of the play.
Grand Champions-Casablanca had its share of chances both from the field and penalty line but could not take advantage. Grand Champions-Casablanca had one final chance on Mt. Brilliant’s penalty with 30 seconds left. With five seconds added to the clock at 35, Roldan hit a long ball downfield but Crowder intercepted and turned the ball away.
“That was a big team,” Crowder said. “They are tough. They are good. They are four players. It was a war on every play. They were always coming and diving in from in front, behind, wherever. They matched up well with our team.”
Roldan scored a team-high seven goals and finished the tournament with 24 goals. Ganzi, Laprida and Bollini each had one goal.
Shavanne led Mt. Brilliant with seven goals, all from the field. Crowder added two to bring his tournament total to 29 goals. Goodman and Daniels each had one.
Ironically, Tonkawa, the only other undefeated team in the eight-team tournament, was also upset by La Indiana, 10-6.
Tonkawa, also coming off a long rest, was cold offensively. Tonkawa converted only 3-of-10 field shots and 3-of-5 penalty shots.
La Indiana, led by Jeff Hall and former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro, was 9-of-17 from the field and 1-of-4 in penalty conversions.
Hall had a team-high four goals and Azzaro added two goals. Sapo Caset had a game-high five goals including three on penalty conversions.
The win avenged La Indiana’s 13-12 loss in bracket play. La Indiana scored six consecutive goals in the fifth and sixth chukkers including four goals in the final chukker.
“We knew how to play them which was an advantage,” Hall said.
Added Michael Bickford, “This team is starting to play well together. After a few games, you put any good polo players together, if they start to gel and have discipline in polo you are going to find some good results and that’s what happened.”
For the first time, USPA Polo Network is live streaming the IPC winter season with content provided by Wellington-based ChukkerTV, the production company for the USPA. The final will be live streamed on Sunday at 3 p.m.
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.
Casablanca, founded by polo players who understand the needs of today’s polo players, supplies a wide variety of polo products, equipment and apparel through superior quality, value and service around the world. Behind the Casablanca brand is a serious pledge to quality, excellence and elegance.
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).
Metropolitan Cup (6 goal): Friday, Hawk Hill vs. Pony Express, 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, Bank Mills vs. Grand Champions Polo Club, 10 a.m.; Sunday, Designer Hair By Nikki vs. Willow Farm, noon; Jan. 28, Saturday, Championship Final and Handicap Final.
Aspen Valley Cup (8 goal): Thursday, Odosan vs. Grand Champions-Valiente at Valiente, 4 p.m.; Saturday, Patagones vs. Seacap, 10 a.m.; Sunday, Hawk Hill vs. Grand Champions Polo Club, 10 a.m., Seacap vs. Patagones, 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: Thursday, Patagones vs. Park Place at Jan Pamela Field, 2 p.m.; Friday, Audi vs. Beverly Equestrian, 3 p.m.; Saturday, Palm Beach Equine vs. GSA, 3 p.m.; Sunday, Dutta Corp vs. Beverly Equestrian,noon; Monday, Audi vs. Travieso, 3:30 p.m.Jan. 24, Tuesday, Palm Beach Equine vs. Park Place, 1 p.m., 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.