Lucchese emerged from the weekend with a blemish free record, defeating Sol de Agosto in a tense overtime period on Friday, July 13, and Farmers & Merchants Bank on Sunday, July 15, in regulation time. With five teams entered in the two-week tournament honoring Santa Barbara polo legend, Robert Skene, the competition started off fast and fierce.

Game 1: Klentner Ranch defeated Farmers & Merchants Bank 15-13
Farmers & Merchants Bank came out with guns blazing in the first chukker but were unable to maintain their momentum throughout the match. Jesse Bray* and Mariano Obregon dug Klentner Ranch out of a deep hole against Farmers & Merchants Bank scoring a combined 14 goals with nine attributed to Bray and five attributed to Obregon. The open strategy employed by Klentner Ranch helped keep the game flowing, favoring their fast pace of play. Farmers & Merchants Bank surrendered eight points on penalty conversions in their 15-13 loss to Klentner Ranch.

Klentner Ranch's Jesse Bray with a textbook swing.
Klentner Ranch’s Jesse Bray with a textbook swing.

Game 2: Lucchese def. Sol de Agosto 12-11 OT
Lucchese and Sol do Agosto’s team lineups proved to be very balanced and the game began with two tied chukkers. Facundo Obregon showed his stick skills, scoring twice from the field in the third to give Lucchese a two-goal advantage at halftime. Though the teams tied the next two chukkers, Lucchese was able to maintain their edge until late in the sixth chukker. Sol de Agosto’s Paco de Navaez came alive, slicing two shots through the uprights from the field before tying the match on a penalty shot. However, Lucchese’s Carlos “Toly” Ulloa scored a deep neckshot in the overtime period garnering Lucchese’s first victory.

Game 3: Lucchese def. Farmers & Merchants Bank 15-9
Lucchese were hot from the moment of the first bowl-in against opponent Farmers & Merchants Bank in their second match of the Robert Skene Trophy. “We narrowly passed by Sol de Agosto in our first game of the season, but today the team felt like it clicked. We created a good rhythm for ourselves early in the game and really spread the ball around,” said Lucchese team captain Jeff Hall. Team owner, John Muse, and Hall both agreed on hiring a second man of higher handicap than in previous years entering the 16-Goal Tournament Series for 2018. After playing the Florida winter 20-goal season together on La Indiana, Hall was eager to capitalize on the team chemistry created with Facundo Obregon on the field. Lucchese led the scoring 11-2 in four chukkers. Winning both bracket games secured Lucchese’s position in the semifinals.

Father and son Justin and Jake Klentner battled against eachother, when Restoration Hardware's Ben Soleimani required a substitution.
Father and son, Justin and Jake Klentner, battled against each other when Restoration Hardware’s Ben Soleimani required a substitution.

Game 4:  Restoration Hardware def. Klentner Ranch 14-11
Multiple substitutions were made for Restoration Hardware: Jake Klentner* for Ben Soleimani, Felipe Vercellino for Iñaki Laprida, and Santi Wulff for Santi von Vernich. After tying the first chukker with Klentner Ranch 2-2, Restoration Hardware’s Geronimo Obregon* turned on the afterburners scoring three goals in the second chukker in addition to two goals by Felipe Vercellino. Klentner Ranch struggled to find momentum as Restoration Hardware kept sending the ball through the uprights. Vercellino fed off Facundo Obregon’s tenacity throughout the match, scoring five more times during the next four chukkers. Klentner Ranch’s Mariano Obregon picked up the pace towards the middle of the fourth chukker but was unable to maintain traction against the forceful Restoration Hardware team.

Belmond El Encanto Robert Skene Trophyplay continues on Wednesday, July 18, when Restoration Hardware will take on Sol de Agosto.

*Jesse Bray, Geronimo Obregon, and Jake Klentner are members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.

All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska/www.polographics.com