WELLINGTON, Fl., February 4, 2018---After trailing for most of the game, Palm Beach Equine rallied for five goals in the final chukker to capture the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series on Saturday at windswept Grand Champions Polo Club.
Palm Beach Equine (Nico Escobar, 2, Nick Manifold, 3, Gringo Colombres, 7, Scott Swerdlin, 0) knocked off defending champion Patagones (Joaquin Avendano, 1, Robi Bilbao, 4, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5) with a thrilling 13-12 victory in a hardfought battle of unbeaten teams.
It was the second time in three years Palm Beach Equine won the title. Swerdlin also won the title ten years ago when Colombres was five goals and Manifold was four.
"We were definitely the underdogs," Swerdlin said. "I couldn't believe how happy I was. That's polo. We weren't winning until the last minute of the game. Before we knew it, it was an amazing game. I can't remember anything that exciting I've played in.
"I am very happy," Swerdlin said. "Gringo put everything together. I just said, okay Gringo tell me what you want me to do. He said just close the back door and let me go forward.
"The sport is getting so much quicker and I am getting so much older," Swerdlin said with a smile. "I am surrounded by good players and sitting back there making sure no one goes by."
Colombres scored a game-high nine goals with four in the final chukker including the game-winner to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
"We were lucky because we were trying hard the whole game and we couldn't score," said Colombres, raised to seven goals for the 2018 season. "The last chukker we tried our best and said let's put eveything in and each one play their best horses.
"We have a good team with good chemistry, young, old and good combination," Colombres said. "I know Nick. Scott and I been playing a long time. Nico is new to the team and very good and young. I am really happy about this team. I just want to keep playing good."
Colombres' horse Africano was named Best Playing Pony for the tournament. For the second day in a row, JM Lisa, ridden and owned by Bilbao, was named Best Playing Pony for the game.
Patagones jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening chukker behind Bilbao. Palm Beach Equine got goals from Escobar and Colombres to trail by one after two chukkers.
With balanced scoring in the third chukker, Patagones outscored Palm Beach Equine, 4-2, to lead 7-3 with 1:42 left and 7-4 at the half. After two even chukkers, 1-1 and 3-3, Palm Beach Equine came alive in the sixth chukker for a 5-1 advantage.
Trailing 12-10 with 4:29 left, Colombres converted a 60-yard penalty to trail 12-11 and tied the game following up a missed shot. Colombres scored the game-winner with 1:25 remaining on another penalty shot.
"When we came in for the sixth Gringo said 'we're going to win this.' I said okay. He said don't let anyone go by you and that was it. Gringo is quite talented. He's playing everything a seven and he was just blasting the penalty shots right through. He is an amazing player. He's cheap on seven goals, ask the other team.
"Nick worked hard for him the whole game, he was always there fighting hard. Nico had a tough job. That's a good other team with four balanced players. They play hard, good, fast and every where."
Escobar, 17, added three goals and played well above his two-goal rating. Manifold had one.
"We knew we were going to win it," Escobar said. "From the sixth chukker we just said we are going to win this. I just let everything go from my head. I thought back to the first time I started playing polo and laughed to myself. That was it, I said we're going to win and we went out and won it.
"I thought this was going to be a good competitive game," Escobar said. "I thought we were the favorite, we were better than them."
For Patagones, Wulff and Bailbao each had five goals. Benjamin Avendano added two goals.
The winning team received framed prints designed by Brazilian-born renowned artist Romero Britto of Miami Beach. The artist-signed award features a polo player in full swing on a polo pony surrounded by a palm tree, heart and whimsical designs of color.
The club's 12-goal league play continues in February with the Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Tournament featuring nine teams including Palm Beach Equine, Patagones, Beverly Equestrian, Goose Creek/GSA, Valiente, Sebucan, Mayer Ranch, Newport and Skaneateles.
Throughout the season, Wellington-based ChukkerTV will live stream every Saturday Feature Game and all tournament finals.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12 Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.
During the 2017 winter season Grand Champions attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season.
Grand Champions 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 Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans.