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Amaro Wins Top Pony 8-Goal Final; Kris Kampsen Named MVP

WELLINGTON, Fla., March 14, 2024---Amaro led from start to finish to capture the Top Pony 8-Goal Tournament Wednesday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira

Amaro (Scott Sorbaro, 0, Nick Manifold, 2, Kris Kampsen, 6, Michael Armour, 0) jumped out to a 7-2 halftime lead against Victory Polo (Tiffany Armstrong, 0, Kevin Schmeits, 0/Vinny Sangaline, 1, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Tommy Collingwood, 5) and went on to win the four-team tournament, 11-9.

Kampsen, rated at 6 goals for 22 consecutive years, was named Most Valuable Player. Los Machitos Thelma, played by Manifold, was Best Playing Pony.

Victory Polo picked up one goal on handicap before Amaro jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening chukker with all three goals coming from Kampsen, two from the field and one 30-yard penalty conversion.

Kampsen scored three more goals in the second and third chukkers and Manifold added one to give Amaro a 7-2 halftime lead. Amaro was unable to score until the final minute of the third chukker when Mandelbaum scored from the field. Victory had its share of scoring opportunities in the first half but was unable to capitalize.

The dynamic of the game changed in the second half when Sangaline, a former Colorado State player, came in for Schmeits. Victory found its rhythm and opened the game up with Collingwood scoring and Sangaline scoring back-to-back goals to cut the gap to 8-4 after four chukkers.

"Vinny has played a lot of polo, he got to play the 22 and U.S. Open, obvious his experience helps," Kampsen said. "He worked really well. We knew they were going to complicate us when Vinny came in. There were a bunch of times where I looked up and he had gotten into a melee with Nick. He caused a little bit of a mess and Leo ends up getting free. He knows the game and how to make a mess and then get free. He played really well."  

The teams exchanged goals in the fifth chukker with Amaro keeping its four-goal cushion, 9-5, going into the final chukker.

Victory Polo scored three unanswered goals early in the sixth chukker to trail by only one, 9-8, with 4:19 left.

"I played like crap in a couple of chukkers and then I got back into it," Kampsen said. "I couldn't hit a ball."

Amaro regained its momentum when Kampsen connected with Manifold, who scored from 40 yards out with 2:22 left for a 10-8 advantage. It was Amaro's first goal from the field since the fourth chukker. Amaro scored an insurance goal with 1:49 left when Kampsen converted a 30-yard conversion for an 11-8 lead. Collingwood hit a 60-yard penalty conversion to end the game.

"I'm really happy with the team," Kampsen said. "Scott has really improved. Michael got hurt in January and we ended up playing the rest of the tournament without him. It took him two games to get back and then I thought yesterday he had his personal best game of the season. He was not afraid to go to anybody. He was hitting the ball like he usually does. He was going forward and putting a lot of pressure on them."

Kampsen scored a game-high eight goals. Manifold had two goals and Sorbaro added one. The Victory Polo lineup got balanced scoring, Mandelbaum, Collingwood and Sangaline each with three goals.

In the first half, Amaro outshot Victory Polo, 14-5. Victory Polo led in knock-ins, 7-4. Each team won four throw-ins. Amaro finished the game leading in shots on goal, 23-18. Victory Polo led in knock-ins 12-9. The teams each won 10 throw-ins.

In last year's 8-goal final, Grand Champions Polo Club needed an overtime chukker to win. GCPC (Fran Spinacci, 0, Miki Novillo Astrada, 1, Antonio Aguerre, 1, Max Charlton, 6) defeated Orea Polo (Petra Sobotova, -1, Justo Mourino, 3, Justin Daniels, 2, Mati Busquet, 4), for a thrilling 10-9 overtime victory. Astrada, 16, the son of Argentine great and former 10-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada, was MVP.



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