WELLINGTON, Fl., January 28, 2017---After leading at halftime, Grand Champions-Casablanca went cold and watched the game slip away Friday at Isla Carroll West.
Valiente II, making its 20-goal season debut and playing with a substitute player in the final nine minutes of the game, rallied for a 15-8 victory in the opening round of the Ylvisaker Cup.
Grand Champions-Casablanca’s foursome of Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Inaki Laprida and Juancito Bollini was shut out in the fourth and fifth chukkers and was unable to dig itself out of a hole.
After a shaky opening half, Valiente II (Rob Jornayvaz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Diego Cavanagh, Joaquin Panelo) found its rhythm in the second half for a 10-1 run including six unanswered goals.
“It’s tough when you don’t score a goal for two chukkers,” said Ganzi, 18, a freshman at Lynn University. “They scored six goals in a row, you can’t win a game like that. It’s disgraceful.
“We played our game the first half and the second half they played theirs,” Ganzi said. “That’s why we lost. We stopped opening the game up and played down to their level. We’re not going to win a game like that. We just didn’t have our day.”
Jornayvaz said there was no sense of panic among his team when it fell behind 5-2 with3:16 left in the second chukker.
“We had a bit of a slow start,” Jornayvaz said. “We had a plan starting out. Instead of switching the plan halfway through we sat down and said we weren’t making every play as hard as we can. We decided to focus on our plan and do it better.
“There was no sense of panic. The fourth chukker we really broke ahead. We kept going with the same plan and stayed disciplined. The fifth chukker we thought we would seal the deal.”
Valiente II dominated the throw-ins, 19-9, including 10-4 in the first half.
Valiente II converted 10-of-15 field shots while Grand Champions-Casablanca could manage only 7-of-16. Valiente II was 4-of-6 in penalty conversions and Grand Champions-Casablanca was 1-of-2. The teams combined for 17 penalties with Grand Champions-Casablanca committing nine.
Jornayvaz was surprised his team was able to shut out Grand Champions-Casablanca for two chukkers.
“We really tried to play the game,” Jornayvaz said. “They are not an easy team to shut out. Grant and Juan get really in there and make a mess. They make a lot of holes for Inaki and Nic to go through. We wanted to bring Juan out of the game as much as possible and allow these guys to have a bit more space and shut off the passes between Inaki and Nic. It worked out pretty good in our favor.”
Cavanah escaped serious injury when he went down with 2:52 left in the fifth chukker after getting caught up with the back legs of Roldan’s horse. After a 15-minute injury timeout, he tried to return to the game but was unable to continue with a neck injury. He is expected to return to the lineup forWednesday’s game against Mt. Brilliant.
Cavanah was replaced by another 8-goaler, Magoo Laprida, who was home when he got the call to get to the field. Laprida is Inaki Laprida’s older brother and member of first-year team Equine Liquid Biocell.
“I was in my house when they called,” Magoo Laprida said. “That was me speeding in my car to the tent. I only played one chukker. This is a great team for sure.”
“Magoo jumped in really quick and we stuck to our plan and tried to make it as easy as possible for him to come in,” Jornayvaz said. “I think that was one of the differences. Everybody on this team never scrambled or worried. Our goal was to play as simple as possible.”
Valiente II got balanced scoring. Cavanah had a game-high seven goals. Zavaleta scored five goals, Panelo had two and Magoo Laprida had one.
Valiente II was put together at the last minute to prepare Cavanah and Zavaleta for the 26-goal season.
“We put the team together two weeks ago,” Jornayvaz said. “We weren’t planning to play. It was mostly for Diego and Matias to get ready. I was lucky enough to jump on the team. Joaquin was free and he joined the team and played lights out today.”
Roldan scored a team-high six goals and Bollini added two goals for Grand Champions-Casablanca which hopes to rebound on Wednesday when it plays Goose Creek at 10 a.m.
“Going forward we have to play our game,” Ganzi said. “We have to focus on Goose Creek. We have to really step it up.”
In Friday’s other two opening round games, Postage Stamp Farm upset La Indiana, 12-11. La Indiana was coming off its Joe Barry Memorial Cup victory. During the game, former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro was hit in the chin with a ball that bounced off his mallet head but was able to return to the game. He had to have 20 stitches to close the deep gash.
Orchard Hill needed overtime to edge Goose Creek, 9-8, on Facundo Pieres' game-winner.
Fourteen teams are competing in four brackets over the next three weeks. The top eight teams advance into the March 12 quarterfinals.
The prestigious tournament, established in 2003, is named after visionary business leader and lifelong polo enthusiast Bill Ylvisaker.
Ylvisaker, a former captain of the Yale polo team, founded the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. He created the Polo Training Foundation to teach and develop young polo players.
Ylvisaker was a 7-goal rated player and won three U.S. Opens, two Coronation Cups against England and Australia, Gold Cup and four national 20-goal championships. He was chairman of the U.S. Polo Association (1970-75) and inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 1994. He died February 5, 2010 at age 85.
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 at Grand Champions, 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): Saturday, Handicap Final at Santa Rita Buenos Aires Field, Hawk Hill vs. Grand Champions, 10:30 a.m.; Sunday, Final at Santa Rita Aspen Field, Willow Farm vs. Bank Mills Feed, 10 a.m.
Aspen Valley Cup (8 goal): Handicap Final, Odosan vs. Patagones; Final, Hawk Hill vs. Seacap, date and time TBA.
The Limited Edition Series (12 goal): Saturday, Final at Grand Champions Field 2, Dutta Corp vs. Patagones, 3 p.m.; Sunday, Handicap Final, Beverly Equestrian vs. GSA, 1:30 p.m.
FEBRUARY: 1-26, Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal) and Top Pony 8 Goal Series; 1-25, USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Women’s League, every Wednesday.
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; Women’s League, everyWednesday.
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), Women’s League, every Wednesday.
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.