WELLINGTON, Fl., January 9, 2017----Grand Champions Polo Club is making the most of its 20-goal debut this season at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The foursome of Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Inaki Laprida and Juancito Bollini remained undefeated Sunday in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup with an emotionally-charged 10-6 victory over Coca-Cola at Engel & Volkers Field.
On a chilly afternoon with brisk winds gusting up to 25-miles per hour, Grand Champions jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it.
Ganzi, 18, a freshman at Lynn University and one of the youngest players in the eight-team tournament, was named Most Valuable Player for his outstanding play. It is the first time Ganzi has earned MVP honors at a high goal tournament.
It was Grand Champions’ second victory in four daysagainst two well-established teams. On Thursday Grand Champions defeated Goose Creek, 12-11, in its tournament opener.
“We wanted to play the same way we did against Goose Creek,” Ganzi said. “We stuck to our game plan and won as a four-man team. It was a matter of trusting each other. This is an amazing team and I am happy to be a part of it.
“I was humbled and thankful to be recognized for the job I did. I tried to be a menace like the last game, be physical, make space and help open the game up.”
Grand Champions assured itself a spot in next Sunday’smini-quarterfinals. However, if they beat Postage Stamp Farm on Thursday at noon they will bypass the quarters and automatically move into the Jan. 18 semifinals.
“This is a great way to start the season,” said Ganzi, a third-generation polo player. “We are trying to make a statement. We are here to win games. It’s never easy to play on Field One and we knew Coke would be tough. This was a huge win.
“I felt our team played really well,” Ganzi said. “Nic was great with his penalty shots despite the wind and doing what he does best. Juancito is a force at back with all his backhanders and Inaki is just incredible.”
The first-year team was well-poised and worked well together against Coca-Cola’s Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano and Del Walton.
Grand Champions shut out Coca-Cola the first two chukkers and took a 4-0 lead and led 5-2 at the half. Coca-Cola, now 0-2 in bracket play, could get no closer than two goals (5-3) in the second half.
Grand Champions converted 5-of-10 shots from the field while Coca-Cola hit 4-of-7. Grand Champions converted 5-of-7 penalty shots and Coca-Cola converted 2-of-4. Coca-Cola committed 10 fouls while Grand Champions had seven. Coca-Cola had the advantage in throw-ins, 12-11.
Roldan, Ganzi and Bollini, a junior at Florida Atlantic University, have played together for years at various levels. Laprida has made a quick transition after only four pre-tournament practice sessions with his new teammates.
Roldan, a Cardinal Newman alum, led scoring with a game-high six goals, five on penalty conversions. Laprida added four goals, all in the first half.
Roldan has 13 goals in two games including 10 on penalty shots.
Cubana, owned and ridden by Roldan in the fourth chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.
In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Goose Creek defeated Postage Stamp Farm, 11-7. Father and son Mariano and Peke Gonzalez combined for 10 goals including six from Peke. Kris Kampsen had five goals for Postage Stamp Farm.
Flags were flown half-mast and moment of silence was observed before the featured stadium game in honor of the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting tragedy.
The tournament, created in 2005, is named after Joe Barry, a big-hitting 9-goal ranked American player who dominated polo in the 1960s and 1970s. The six-time U.S. Open winner was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 1999. 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 uniqueprogram.
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. 11, 10 & 11 a.m.; Jan. 18, 10 & 11 a.m.
Metropolitan Cup (6 goal): Jan. 11, Wednesday, Banks Mills vs. Willow Farm, 12:30 p.m.; Jan. 13, Friday, Banks Mills vs. Hawk Hill, 3:30 p.m.; Jan. 14, Saturday, Grand Champions vs. Designer Hair By Nikki, 11 a.m.; 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): Jan. 13, Friday, Seacap vs. Dutta Corp, 1 p.m.; 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: Jan. 11, Wednesday, Dutta Corp vs. Flexjet, 3 p.m.; Jan. 12, Thursday, Palm Beach Equine vs. Patagones, 3 p.m.; Jan. 14, Saturday, Beverly Equestrian vs. Flexjet, 3 p.m.; 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.