The Regional President’s Cup Final on March 31 at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida, featured an exceptional performance from ML Bar Ranch, capturing the decisive victory 11-5 over Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid. Dominating throughout the tournament, each of ML Bar Ranch’s four victories were won by at least a margin of six goals, propelled by a fast-paced offense that scored double digits in every game.
Waging a relentless offensive attack, ML Bar Ranch’s (Mia Bray*, Steve Krueger*, Cody Ellis*, Drew Luplow) best defense was a strong offense which controlled possession of the ball, limiting the chances for Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid (Nicole Watson, Cecila Cochran, Jason Wates, Robert Orthwein) to score. In the first chukker, Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid had several opportunities to assume the lead, but were unable to convert Penalty 3 and 4 opportunities, while Ellis put ML Bar Ranch on the scoreboard with his first field goal of the game. After weathering the early pressure from Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid, ML Bar Ranch improved their discipline and took control of the game in a strong second chukker that was led by two more goals from Ellis to increase the lead 3-0. Still searching for their first goal, Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid finally broke through in the third chukker after Wates converted a Penalty 4 along with adding a field goal to quickly narrow the gap to just one. Ellis finished an exceptional first half with his fourth goal of the game to increase ML Bar Ranch’s lead back to two 4-2.
Although joining ML Bar Ranch as a substitute for Benton Fox in the final, Mia Bray instantly felt a part of the team. “It is difficult to show up to play in a final with a team I have never played with before, but that team made it easy,” Bray said. “Cecelia [Cochran] challenged me on the field, but my teammates played so well we were able to secure the win.”
A decisive fourth chukker proved to be crucial in the outcome of the final, with Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid striving to even the score, but unable to slow Ellis who was seemingly everywhere on the field. Playing effectively at the number three position, Ellis contributed two of ML Bar Ranch’s three unanswered goals, with the third coming off the mallet of Luplow. Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid’s offense struggled to generate scoring opportunities of their own as the efficient ML Bar Ranch drive provided little room for a counter-attack. ML Bar Ranch created an insurmountable distance in the fifth chukker when Krueger converted a Penalty 2 to end the fifth 9-3, leaving Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid short on time to mount a comeback. A late push from Wates, accounting for all five Speedwell/Crossfit El Cid goals in the game, wasn’t enough to overcome a dynamic team offense from ML Bar Ranch 11-5.
Contributing eight goals to the tally, Cody Ellis was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Remy, played by Jason Wates in the sixth chukker.
*Cody Ellis and Mia Bray are members of Team USPA. Steve Krueger is a Team USPA alumni. 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.