An exciting day of finals on Sunday, March 17 at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, featured new 8-goal and 6-goal champions, with Cotterel Farms defeating Spindrift 15-7 to claim the Pacific Coast Circuit Constitution Cup, followed by Hanalei Bay’s 9-7 victory over Empire to capture the Pacific Coast Circuit Congressional Cup.
The opening final of the day on Field 1 displayed an offensive outburst from Cotterel Farms (Jenny Benardoni, Francisco Benardoni, Max Menini and Francisco Guinazu), overwhelming Spindrift (Tom Schuerman, John Bickford, Juan Curbelo and Leandro Floccari) in each chukker with a dynamic attack that had all four players contribute to the scoreboard. Early foul trouble for Spindrift allowed Cotterel Farms to gain the early momentum from the penalty line with Guinzai converting a Penalty 3 and 4 to give his team the 2-1 lead. Spindrift responding with a penalty conversion of their own, Cotterel Farms scored four unanswered goals, Guinzau who ended the first half with an impressive four goals to his credit. A late push in the half from Juan Curbelo brought Spindrift back within two, but Jenny Benardoni increased her team’s lead back to three, scoring her first goal of the game and landing all four Cotterel Farms players on the board by halftime 7-4.
A balanced contribution for Cotterel Farms kept the possession in their favor, dominating open play throughout the second half with accurate passes to goal. In a decisive fourth chukker, Cotterel Farms exploded to add four goals, Menini and Francisco Benardoni scoring their second goals of the game. Spindrift was unable to match the rapid pace of Cotterel Farms’ attack and it was two additional goals from Guinzau in the fifth that all but sealed the victory. Responsible for eight goals, Francisco Guinazu was named Most Valuable player, leading Cotterel Farms to the well-deserved victory 15-7.
A second consecutive final on Field 1 produced a hard-fought contest between Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco and Luis Saracco) and Empire (Riley Jordan, Rob Scapa, Kyle Fargey and Jessica Bailey) with late fouls committed by Empire ultimately deciding the close game. The opening chukker was led by each team’s highest rated player, Luis Saracco and Kyle Fargey picking up a pair of goals a piece resulting in a tied game 2-all at the end of the first. The end of the half saw clean polo from both teams, with runs being made by on either side. Neither team was able to assume the lead, with a field goal each for Riley Jordan and Ignacio Saracco leaving the score once again tied 3-3 with two chukkers remaining.
The momentum began to increase in the second half in a high-scoring third that saw end-to-end action. Hanalei Bay’s duo of Ignacio and Luis Saracco paced their team’s offense, combining to score three consecutive goals in the third chukker and give Hanalei Bay the first real advantage in the game. Before the chukker ended, Fargey responded with his fourth goal of the game, leaving the outcome of the final to the last chukker.Entering the final chukker 6-5 in favor of Hanalei Bay, Empire committed five fouls in a tense final minutes of play, allowing Hanalei Bay three attempts from the penalty line. Nailing all three penalty shots, Luis Saracco and Joe Coors increased their lead by two goals to capture the win 9-7. Scoring five goals on the day, Luis Saracco was named Most Valuable Player who led Hanalei Bay to the title.
All photos ©Jim Bremner