WELLINGTON, Fl., February 15, 2017---Goose Creek, hoping the law of averages would catch up with them, rallied for an 11-8 victory over Grand Champions-Casablanca in the George Haas Cup semifinal Tuesday at Isla Carroll East.
Trailing 7-2 midway through the fourth chukker, Goose Creek’s foursome of Maureen Brennan, father and son Mariano and Peke Gonzalez and Tomas Garcia del Rio, outscored Grand Champions-Casablanca, 7-1, in the final two chukkers to clinch the win.
“It’s nice to come back and win,” Mariano Gonzalez said. “We lost three games that we shouldn’t have lost because we were winning in the last chukker, some of them coming back from way behind like we did today.
“We just needed to finish the game like today. After a making a huge effort to be up by one or two goals in the last chukker and then lose it is painful when you know you played well and should have won and then you lose. But today we got some confidence back.”
After three losses in Ylvisaker Cup bracket play (9-8 in overtime to Orchard Hill, 12-10 to Grand Champions-Casablanca and 9-8 to Mt. Brilliant, Goose Creek turned it around.
“Maybe it was sixth chukkeritis, I don’t know,” Brennan said. “We have either been in it or winning it all the way until the end.
“We talked about that and made some changes as a team before the game and then during the game we made some other changes to get rid of that sixth chukkeritis.”
Grand Champions-Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Inaki Laprida, Juancito Bollini) started off well taking advantage of Goose Creek’s missed scoring opportunities building leads of 2-0, 4-1 and 5-2 at the half.
Two more goals from Bollini and Roldan gave Grand Champions Casablanca what looked to be an insurmountable lead at 7-2.
Goose Creek went to “Plan B” and started chipping away at the lead at the end of the fourth quarter to trail by three, 7-4.
“We changed the game a little bit and our system,” Mariano Gonzalez said. “We always had a Plan B but sometimes it is hard to change the way you play in the middle of a game. After two or three chukkers we were able to realize we said maybe let’s try it.”
In an emotionally-charged, penalty-marred fifth chukker that featured two yellow cards, Goose Creek outscored Grand Champions-Casablanca, 4-0, with back-to-back penalty goals from Mariano Gonzalez to take the lead, 8-7, for the first time in the game.
“We got back into a rhythm,” Brennan said. “Any time you can get that one-up it helps. It’s one thing to be way behind by whatever goals but when it’s that close all the time that one-up is the game.”
Grand Champions-Casablanca took advantage of a right-of-way penalty against Goose Creek to tie the game (8-8) on Roldan’s penalty-two conversion.
At the 4:32 mark, Goose Creek regained the lead when Peke Gonzalez beat his defender to score for a 9-8 lead. While Grand Champions-Casablanca went cold offensively, Mariano Gonzalez scored back-to-back goals to put the game away.
“We started out well,” said Ganzi, of his team’s final IPC 20-goal appearance of the season. “The game just got a little complicated. We were down on horsepower. We played well in the beginning but then the game got a little messy. We didn’t play our game. They played their game and we didn’t play ours. They did what helped them the most.
“Goose Creek is a good team. They have been in every game they played in. They are a good group of guys and tough to play against. We get along really well with them.”
Mariano Gonzalez scored a game-high eight goals. Seventeen-year-old Peke Gonzalez added two and Garcia del Rio had one.
“We have lost some close games,” Peke Gonzalez said. “It was a little bit of bad luck. The ball bounces sometimes against us. Thankfully, we won this one. This was good for us.
“We played better in the second half, especially me after starting a little slow,” Peke Gonzalez said. “I tried to make the space for these guys to play with the ball and go forward and that gave us some goals.
“In the sixth chukker my dad made some good goals and that gave us a lot of confidence. It’s awesome playing with my dad. He helps me in the field and that helps me play better.”
Roldan led Grand Champions-Casablanca scoring with six goals. Ganzi and Bollini each had one goal.
“We just didn’t play well in the end, plain and simple,” Roldan said. “We made mistakes. The horses didn’t go well. The horses were tired and they out-horsed us. We didn’t change our game when we had to.”
Goose Creek will meet Mt. Brilliant (Bo Goodman, Jason Crowder, Santi Chavanne, Julian Daniels)on Sunday at noon in the subsidiary final before the Ylvisaker Cup final.
“This gives us confidence going into the final,” Brennan said. “We know the other team well, too, obviously. They are a good team, all four of them.”
George Haas was an American businessman and polo player. He won the East Coast Open three times, Monty Waterbury Cup three times and Arena Sherman Memorial. He served as president of the Gulfstream Polo Club, chairman of the Polo Training Foundation, member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of International Polo, chairman ofUSPA’s Safety and International Committee and board member of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002 and died in 2006.
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).
Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal): Feb. 15, Willow Farm vs. Horseware/Aliano, 3 p.m., The Polo School vs. Pony Express,4 p.m.; Feb. 18: Hawk Hill vs. Horseware/Aliano, 10 a.m., Banks Mill vs. Grand Champions, 11:30 a.m.; Feb. 19, Grand Champions vs. Pony Express, 10 a.m., Smithfield vs. Willow Farm, noon; Equuleus vs. The Polo School, noon; Feb. 22, Banks Mill Feed vs. Equuleus, 4 p.m.; Feb. 25, Halo Polo Handicap Final, 10 a.m., Halo Polo Final, 4 p.m.
Top Pony 8 Goal Series: Feb. 16, Seacap vs. Valiente, 11 a.m.; Feb. 17, Odosan/Polologistics vs. Smithfield, 3 p.m.; Hawk Hill vs. Patagones, 4 p.m.; Feb. 19, Odosan/Polologistics vs. Hawk Hill, 10 a.m.; Feb. 23, Seacap vs. Patagones, 4 p.m.; Feb. 26, Top Pony Handicap Final, 10 a.m., Top Pony Final, noon.
USPA Sieber 12-Goal Memorial: Feb. 16, Dutta Corp vs. Palm Beach Equine, 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 19, Patagones vs. Skaneateles, 10 a.m., Cria Yatay vs. Palm Beach Equine,12:30 p.m.; Feb. 21, Dutta Corp vs. GSA, 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 23, Audi vs. The Polo School, 10 a.m.; Feb. 25, Sieber Memorial Handicap Final, 1 p.m., Sieber Memorial Final, 3 p.m.
Women’s League, every Wednesday, 10 and 11 a.m., at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
FEBRUARY 16: Polo Training Foundation (PTF) International Cup, Grand Champions, 4 p.m.
FEBRUARY 22-March 11: Sterling Cup (16-20 goal) and John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (Subsidiary 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, every Wednesday, 10 and 11 a.m.
MARCH 1-11: $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament (Single elimination).
MARCH 12: Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Inc. Celebrity Polo Charity Cup, 10 a.m.
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, 10 and 11 a.m.
APRIL 5-8: WCT Finals and Women’s Polo Week.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
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-Casablanca. 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.