Lucchese edged past Klentner Ranch in the last 10 seconds of their semifinal match on Friday, August 12, to face Restoration Hardware who had solidified their place in the final earlier in the week. Iñaki Laprida’s quick ball work and forceful push forward throughout the game, as he weaved his way through a scramble of players atop Best Playing Pony Rama, made the difference for Restoration Hardware, defeating Lucchese 10-9 in a final match that had players racing until the last bell sounded.

Restoration Hardware's Ben Soleimani and Lucchese's John Muse battle for position.
Restoration Hardware’s Ben Soleimani and Lucchese’s John Muse battle for position.

Though the score did not take off until the third and fourth chukkers, play was fast and furious. A penalty goal from the 30-yard line by Lucchese’s Facundo Obregon and a second by Laprida left the score even after the first seven-and-a-half minutes of play. Restoration Hardware’s Ben Solemani scored the first field goal in the second, jumping on the line of a perfect pass towards goal to escort it through 2-1. A final penalty goal in the chukker by Laprida gave Restoration Hardware a two-goal advantage over Lucchese 3-1.

Most Valuable Player Inaki Laprida.
Most Valuable Player Inaki Laprida, presented by Tara Gray, Official Jeweler of Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.

The third chukker began with two penalty shots by Laprida for Restoration Hardware and a third by Facundo Obregon for Lucchese. Geronimo Obregon* was able to open up play, picking the ball from midfield, expertly steering away from his defender to the left of the goal mouth, and sliced it through the uprights to capture Restoration Hardware’s sixth goal. Carlos “Toly” Ulloa answered back for Lucchese, streaking down the side of field before veering off and running straight through the goal. At the halftime mark Restoration Hardware led 6-3.

Three penalty goals from Facundo Obregon in the fourth and fifth chukkers kept Lucchese fighting in the final match of the tournament, but they were met by three goals from Laprida and a fourth by Santi Von Wernich. Restoration Hardware held on to the advantage created before the halftime period leading 8-5 after chukker four and 10-6 after chukker five.

Restoration Hardware's Geronimo Obregon.
Restoration Hardware’s Geronimo Obregon.

After dominating the middle of the game, Restoration Hardware was held scoreless in the final chukker of play leaving the door open for Lucchese. A goal from the field by Jeff Hall and a penalty goal from Facundo Obregon put Lucchese within two goals with a little over a minute and a half remaining. Ulloa pounced on a loose ball and took off towards the Lucchese goal, walking it through with only 37 seconds remaining in the chukker to bring Lucchese within one goal 10-9 as the final bell rung.

Best Playing Pony was awarded to Inaki Laprida's Rama.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Inaki Laprida’s Rama, presented by Tracy Smith along with Billy and Lisa Long from Ranch Marketing Associates, and pictured with Ivan “El Ruso” Fredes and Manual Vidal.

Most Valuable Player Iñaki Laprida led his team with furor throughout all six chukkers scoring seven of the team’s ten goals. Laprida’s stunning grey mare was named Best Playing Pony, appearing in two chukkers. “Rama played amazing for me today in the first and fifth chukker,” commented Laprida. “She is a 10-year old mare that my father bred. My guys Ivan “El Ruso” Fredes and Manual Vidal do a great job with all of the horses here.”

Santi Trotz, a mainstay at the Santa Barbara Polo Club, helped coach the Restoration Hardware team and credits the victory to the players following through with their game strategy of opening up the play and stretching the field.

The final tournament of the summer, the Silver Air Pacific Coast Open begins on Thursday. All games will be livestreamed on the USPA Polo Network on uspolo.org.

*Geronimo Obregon is a member 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 ©David Lominska. 

Tags:  Santa Barbara Polo Club