In the second annual playing of the USPA H. Ben Taub Memorial at the Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas, a field of eight American players including two Team USPA members, competed in a close and exciting final match on Sunday, October 16. Following a victory in the Keleen & Carlton Beal Cup, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Steve Krueger, Matt Coppola, Tommy Biddle) made their third national 12-goal final appearance of the season, after an undefeated round of bracket play. Tonkawa’s opponent, Pegasus (David Andras, Nick Cifuni, Mason Wroe, Joe Wayne Barry) narrowly secured their spot after a bracket record tie-breaking shootout win against ERG on Friday.
The first 12-goal final appearance of the season for Pegasus, the seasoned Tonkawa caught Pegasus flat-footed in the first chukker. Two unanswered goals, one from Biddle and another from Krueger (Team USPA) gave Tonkawa a quick lead. Pegasus retaliated in the second with three combined goals, including a goal from Andras and two back-to-back goals from Wroe (Team USPA). A lone goal for Tonkawa from Krueger gave Pegasus the opportunity to equalize the score 3-all. The evenly matched teams, displayed impressive defensive strategy throughout the remainder of the game, resulting in a low scoring final four chukkers of play. Krueger scored his third goal of the game, and the only goal of the chukker for Tonkawa in the third to maintain Tonkawa’s one goal edge over Pegasus at the half.
The two teams exhibited even playing in the fourth chukker, each team contributing a goal to the scoreboard. However, the fifth highlighted Jeff Hildebrand with the only goal of the chukker to widen Tonkawa’s lead to two. The battle continued into the sixth, this time the only goal of the chukker coming from Barry of Pegasus. It was not enough to surpass powerhouse Tonkawa, however, and with a final score 6-5, Tonkawa seized the 2016 USPA H. Ben Taub Memorial trophy and their second national title of the season.
Most Valuable Player was awarded to Tommy Biddle for his consistent play which allowed Tonkawa to maintain their advantage, never once relinquishing their lead. Best Playing Pony was presented to Basil, a nine-year-old thoroughbred mare, owned and played by Mason Wroe. Raised and trained by Wayne and Barbara Kvalsig in Brookshire, Texas, Wroe recently bought her from Peter Orthwein. “It’s the first of many BPP to come,” beamed Wroe.