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Newport, SebiLion Meet Sunday For Eastern Challenge Title At Grand Champions Polo Club

WELLINGTON, Fla., May 18, 2024---SebiLion will try and play spoiler when it plays Newport in the championship final of the Eastern Challenge Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.


By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira


Newport, the winningest team of the spring polo season, will go after its third consecutive title. Newport has already won the Santa Rita Abierto and Casablanca Spring Challenge.



In Friday's opening day action, Newport (Gene Goldstein, 0, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Tommy Collingwood, 5) advanced into the final with a 12-11 victory over Santa Rita (Rebecca Cohen, 0, Jason Crowder 5, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Juan Bollini, 3).


SebiLion (Jony Castillo, 0, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) stunned Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Sugar Erskine, 6, Fred Mannix, 7, Santos Bollini, 2), 13-12, for a spot in the final.


Newport and SebiLion will play Sunday at 10 a.m. followed by Santa Rita and Audi in the subsidiary Just For The Fun Of It Cup at 11:30 a.m.



NEWPORT 12, SANTA RITA 11

Newport came out strong with a four-man rotation, using each other so well and creating space to control the game.


Its offensive attack led to a 5-1 opening chukker which Newport built in the first half for a 7-3 lead after the second chukker and 9-4 halftime advantage.


Newport led 10-6 after the fourth chukker and started to relax with Santa Rita taking advantage. Santa Rita outscored Newport, 7-3 in the second half but fell short.


Newport led 12-9 with 4:10 left in the game as Spinacci scored with 1:30 left and Bollini added another goal with 32 seconds left to close the gap.


The game was one of the few games that was void of fouls.


Goldstein scored a team-high five goals. Ganzi had four goals, Collingwood had two and Roldan added one goal.


Bollini scored a team-high five goals. Cohen had four goals and Spinacci had two.


SEBILION 13, AUDI 12

The lead changed hands six times before SebiLion took control of the game late in the second chukker taking advantage of Audi's cold shooting.


SebiLion took a 5-4 lead on Pieres' goal with a minute left in the second chukker. SebiLion had a three-goal lead (7-4) in the third after Astrada converted a safety-60. After SebiLion missed two penalty conversions, Audi came alive and closed the gap to two and trailed 7-5.


The teams exhanged 3-1 leads in the fourth and fifth chukkers before Audi tried to turn up the heat behind Mannix' three penalty conversions including a safety conversion in the sixth chukker.


With SebiLion maintaining a two-goal lead, 12-10 in the sixth chukker, Mandelbaum scored a clutch goal, his first from the field, with 3:45 left for a 13-10 advantage. Erskine scored with 46 seconds left and Ganzi added another goal to finish the game in the final seconds.


Mandelbaum and Pieres shared leading scoring honors each with four goals. Astrada had three and Castillo, a sub for Sebastian Mandelbaum, added two goals.


Audi got balanced scoring from its lineup. Mannix led with four goals, Ganzi and Erskine each had three goals and Bollini had one. There was also a penalty-one.


The spring season wraps up with the May 24-27 The Memorial.


In last year's final, Casablanca (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Marc Ganzi, 1, Nic Roldan, 8, Grant Ganzi, 3) edged Travieso (Michael Calle, 0, Nito Uranga, 6, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Teo Calle, 0), 8-7. Roldan was MVP.


Several top and up-and-coming players and patrons are competing during the fun and competitive spring league.

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