WELLINGTON, Fl., March 30, 2017---Travieso became the first team to qualify for back-to-back 20-goal tournament finals during the winter season at Grand Champions Polo Club.
With lightning-quick horses and well-balanced team, Travieso dominated previously undefeated Goose Creek in the third and fourth chukkers and went on to win 10-7 to advance into Saturday’s Molina Cup final at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions.
Travieso (Teo Calle, Torito Ruiz, Sebastian Merlos, Hugo Barabucci) will play the winners of Thursday’sother semifinal between undefeated Dutta Corp (2-0) and Beverly Equestrian Polo (1-1) at 3 p.m. at White Birch Field No. 4 off Pierson Road.
It is the second 20-goal tournament final appearance for Travieso (2-1). Travieso (Tony Calle, Torito Ruiz, Sebastian Merlos, Hugo Barabucci) won the prestigious Sterling Cup with a remarkable comeback and thrilling 13-8 victory over Casablanca.
“The team today was fantastic, we had a good result,” Barabucci said. “We played quite good. We knew Goose Creek was a very good team. The main thing was our concentration from the beginning. We are very excited to be in the final.”
In front of a packed house and worldwide ChukkerTV audience, Goose Creek (Maureen Brennan, Peke Gonzalez, Tomas Garcia del Rio, Mariano Gonzalez) was unable to match Travieso’s horsepower for most of the game and firepower in the third and fourth chukkers.
“The whole plan was to get ourselves confident,” Calle said. “I think we had been lacking that a little bit. We showed today that we can get back to it. The main objective today was to be confident and be able to make some plays and I think we achieved that. I think we do have enough confidence going into the final. We know we can, now we just have to get it done.”
After two close first and second chukkers that featured Peke Gonzalez’ banked goal shot off the post with 4:18 left in the second chukker, Travieso pulled away with a 4-1 third chukker for a 7-3 halftime lead.
Goose Creek tried to regroup during halftime but Travieso continued to press and shut out Goose Creek, 3-0 in the fourth chukker for a 10-3 lead.
“We needed to try and get confidence in ourselves,” Merlos said. “Our last game wasn’t that good so I think we had a really good third and fourth chukker that we could get a difference of seven goals.
“It was really awesome to have that big a gap against this team which I think is a really good team. They are really well-organized and they know what they have to do on the field. We were a little bit surprised and amazed that we had such a big lead.”
Goose Creek came back in the fifth to shut out Travieso but could manage to score only one goal.
In the sixth chukker Goose Creek tried to play catch up but ran out of time finishing the tournament at 2-1 and its winter season.
Merlos, who has had a hot mallet the past few weeks, played another superb game scoring a game-high seven goals while leading his team’s attack. Ruiz added two goals. Mariano Gonzalez led Goose Creek with four goals.
“We came to play these two tournaments, one we won and the other one we are in the final,” Merlos said. “We are happy about that.”
The Molina Cup, a first-year 20-goal tournament, comes on the heels of the successful and historical 20-goal Sterling Cup.
The two-week tournament features a star-studded lineup of some of the world’s top players from six different countries.
The 120-year-old handcrafted silver Molina Cup trophy was given to Marc Ganzi by Alfredo Molina, Chairman of the Phoenix-based Molina Group and owner of Molina Fine Jewelers.
Ganzi was competing in the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships this past fall and admired Molina’s work with the winning trophy presented to two-time defending champion Aspen Valley Polo Club (Melissa Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan) at the Scottsdale event.
The tournament is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.
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 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 GRAND CHAMPIONS WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Molina Cup (20 goal): March 30, Thursday, Semifinal Game Two, Dutta Corp vs. Beverly Equestrian Polo, White Birch Field, 3 p.m.; April 1, Final at Grand Champions, 4 p.m. followed by $100,000 World Cup Draw.
MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6 goal), Limited Edition 8-Goal Series and Top Pony 12-Goal Series.
APRIL 3-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), winner-take-all, single- elimination.
APRIL 1-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals).
APRIL 21-23: GCPC Abierto.
APRIL 28-30: USPA Eastern Challenge.
MAY 5-7: USPA Sun Cup
MAY 12-14: The Spring Challenge Cup.
MAY 19-21: Polo Gear Invitational.
MAY 26-29: The Memorial.
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 Casablanca. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes 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.