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La Monarquia, Victory Polo Win The Polo School Women's Polo League Finals To Kick Off Women's History Month

WELLINGTON, Fla., March 2, 2024--La Monarquia and Victory Polo won The Polo School Women's Polo League finals doubleheader Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.

By Sharon Robb

In the first of two games, La Monarquia (Jen Buchan, 0, Mary Wright, 1, Ava Rose Hinkson, 3, Breanna Gunnell, 4) defeated Spencer Ranch (Rachael Spencer, 0, Maggie Hill, 0, Alyson Poor, 4, Malicia von Falkenhausen, 3), 5-3.5.

Breanna Gunnell was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony was 6-year-old Unicorn, played by Malicia von Falkenhausen in the second chukker.

La Monarquia got balanced scoring from its lineup. Gunnell and Buchan each had two goals. Ava Rose Hinkson added one goal.

Alyson Poor led Spencer Ranch with two goals and Malicia von Falkenhausen had one.

La Monarquia led from start to finish. Gunnell gave La Monarquia a 2-.5 lead in the first chukker with two goals, one from the field and one from the penalty line. Von Falkenhausen closed the gap to 2-1.5 with a goal in the second chukker. Spencer Ranch took the lead, 3.5-2, on Poor's two penalty conversions from 40 and 60 yards out. La Monarquia regained the lead with goals from Buchan and Hinkson. Buchan scored an insurance goal in the fourth and final chukker.

Gunnell is playing her first year in the league. Based in Middleburg, Va., she has been playing mainly mixed polo at the 6, 8, 12 and 16-goal levels for 10 years. She resumed playing six months ago after the birth of her second daughter.

"I am having so much fun," Gunnell said. "I like the fact that the teams are different every week. You get to know all these lady players from different parts of the country and different levels of polo as well. You play a different position every time. It makes you a much better player to play that way."

It was the first time Gunnell earned league MVP honors. Gunnell said she would like to play more women's polo. "This is one of my first times playing women's so I would like to get more into it," she said.

"I think our team played really well together," Gunnell said. "Each of our players just played really great and up to their potential. Everybody helped a lot. With women's, everyone has to back each other. I think the game was just great. It was very competitive but it was very friendly at the same time."

In the second game Victory Polo (Megan Manubay, 1, Annalise Phillips, 1, Marisa Bianchi, 4, Becky Schmeits, 0) edged Armstrong Farm (Katania St.-Cyr, 0/Maggie Hill, 0, Valentina Villamil, 1, Tiffany Armstrong, 1, Audrey Presiano, 5), 3.5-1.

Marisa Bianchi was Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony was 5-year-old Cashmere played by Audrey Presiano.

Bianchi, Manubay and Schmeits each had one goal for Victory Polo and .5 on handicap. Presiano scored Armstrong Farm's goal.

Victory Polo, with a .5 handicap, led from start to finish. Schmeits scored the first goal in the opening chukker for a 1.5-0 lead. Manubay and Bianchi scored goals in the second chukker for a 3.5-0 advantage. Presiano scored her team's only goal in the third chukker. Armstrong Farm held Victory Polo scoreless in the second half.

Women's History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, corresponding with International Women's Day on March 8.

The end-of-the-month finals doubleheader was the league's monthly awards games where MVPs and BPPs are selected.

The nation's oldest weekly women's polo league features players of all ages and skill level. The league was created by Alina Carta, a polo pioneer and one of the highest ranked women in the U.S. in the 1980s, and Melissa Ganzi, Grand Champions Polo Club President, World Polo League co-founder and avid player.

The eight-year-old women's league is held every Wednesday through April and live streamed by ChukkerTV.

All team entry fees from the weekly league benefit The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned club. The Polo School offers lessons to men, women and children of all ages and ability levels.



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