Aspen Valley wins first leg of 2014 USPA Fall Plates
Aspen Valley (Gene Goldstein, Wes Finlayson, Brandon Phillips and Roberto Gonzalez) won Thursday afternoon’s round-robin to capture the first leg of 2014 USPA Fall Plates at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida Thursday afternoon. Aspen Valley scored wins over La Indiana (Melissa Ganzi, Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini) and Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Patrick Uretz, Jesse Bray and Julio Gracida).
In the opening three chukkers of the round-robin Aspen Polo received one-half goal by handicap from the 14-goal La Indiana lineup and wasted little time, adding a goal from the field from Roberto Gonzalez and a penalty conversion from Brandon Phillips in the first three minutes of play for an early 2½-0 lead. Melissa Ganzi scored on a pass from Nic Roldan at the 2:02 mark and Michael Bickford added a second goal for La Indiana with 1:02 left in the period. The chukker ended with Aspen Polo on top, 2½-2.
Juan Bollini scored the opening goal of the second chukker to give La Indiana their first lead of the game, but the lead was short-lived. Phillips converted another penalty shot for a goal and a 3½-3 edge. Wes Finlayson went on a tear in the final two minutes of the chukker scoring twice to give Aspen Valley a 5½-3 lead.
Nic Roldan scored on a pair of penalty shots for La Indiana but a goal from the field from Phillips was all Aspen Valley needed in the final chukker for the 6½-5 win.
With Aspen Valley retiring to the sidelines for the ensuing three chukkers, La Indiana would hold the field and face Casablanca.
Casablanca 6½, La Indiana 5
Casablanca received one and-a-half goals from La Indiana on handicap before two first chukker goals from Jesse Bray to jump out to an early 3½-0 advantage. La Indiana was held scoreless and was struggling to coordinate an effective offensive attack.
Second chukker goals from Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini were answered by a single goal from the field from Patrick Uretz. With one chukker remaining Casablanca continued to lead, 4½-2.
La Indiana pulled out all of the stops in the final seven minutes of play. Final chukker goals from Roldan (penalty goal), Ganzi and Bollini had La Indiana in front, 5-4. A great individual effort from Julio Gracida in the final 27 seconds of the game lifted Casablanca to the 6½-5 victory.
Aspen Polo 6, Casablanca 5
In the final round of the three-team round-robin, Aspen Polo and Casablanca would faceoff to decide the game winner.
Both Aspen Valley and Casablanca had won their opening matches, with the winner of the final three chukkers between the two teams to decide the first tournament finalist.
Casablanca received one goal by handicap and promptly scored the opening three goals of the game for a 4-0 lead. Grant Ganzi opened the scoring in the first chukker with a goal from the field at the 4:45 mark. Less than a minute later Julio Gracida made it 3-0. A great bit of teamwork saw Jesse Bray pass the ball ahead to Uretz who sent it up to a streaking Grant Ganzi who added his second goal of the game for the 4-0 opening chukker lead.
Wes Finlayson showed streaks of brilliance as he shredded the Casablanca defense for a pair of goals in the second chukker. The period ended with Casablanca leading by two goals, 4-2.
The final chukker belonged to Aspen Valley. Two more goals from Finlayson and single goals from Phillips and Gonzalez went unchecked as Aspen Valley rode on to win the game by the margin of one-half goal, 6-5½.
USPA Fall Plates continues with another round-robin on Friday, with action getting underway at 2PM with CT Energia (Marc Ganzi, Alessandro Bazzoni, Felipe Viana and Kris Kampsen) playing Palm Beach Equine (Carlitos Gracida, Leo Mandelbaum, Guille Aguero and Scott Swerdlin). Palm Beach Polo (Glenn Straub, Alejandro Gonzalez, Piki Alberdi and Juancito Bollini) will play the final three chukkers of the day with the winner going on to meet Aspen Valley in the final on Sunday at 3PM.
The Grand Champions Polo Club is located on the corner of Lake Worth Avenue and South Shore Boulevard in Wellington, Florida, and everyone is welcome to watch the games.