By Alex Webbe
A talented 24-goal USA team (Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan and Julio Arellano) took control of the game early and rode off to record a 12-7 win over a 24-goal South African squad (Selby Williams, Chris MacKenzie, Gareth Evans and Tom de Bruin) Saturday afternoon at the Grand Champions Polo Club. The International Cup win was the fourth in a row for the USA having previously defeated England (2012), Chile (2013) and Mexico (2014).
The pace was quick and the tone was physical as South Africa pounded US 8-goalers Nic Roldan and Julio Arellano. Marc scored the first goal of the game at the 5:54 mark for the early 1-0 lead. Arellano made it 2-0 a minute later on a 60-yard penalty conversion, and added a goal from the field as South Africa found themselves trailing, 3-0. A 60-yard penalty goal from Selby Williams got South Africa on the scoreboard before Arellano’s third goal of the chukker put the USA in the lead, 4-1. Gareth Evans kept South Africa from falling behind too far with the final goal of the chukker to trail 4-2.
There was no letup from the USA contingent as the second chukker got underway and continued to press the attack. Fouls were committed by South Africa in an effort to slow down the high-powered offense of the USA team, and the fouls were costly. Arellano scored the first of his three penalty goals in the chukker in the opening 18 seconds of play, 5-2. Arellano added a 30-yard penalty conversion for a goal with 2:27 left in the period and another with just 18 seconds on the clock for a commanding 7-2 advantage.
South Africa fought back in the third. Goals from Chris MacKenzie and Tom de Bruin (40-yard penalty goal) cut the USA lead back to three goals, 7-4. Jeff Hall scored consecutive goals from the field to end the period with the USA retaking their five goal lead, 9-4.
In a very physical and defensive fourth period, de Bruin and Arellano traded goals from the field. The five goals USA lead held as the chukker ended, 10-5.
Hall’s third goal of the match opened the scoring in the fifth and final chukker and extended the USA lead to six goals, 11-5. The South Africans continued press the attack against a resolute US defense. MacKenzie scored with just 1:54 remaining in regulation play, 11-6, and de Bruin added another, 11-7, with time running out. It was Ganzi, however, with the final score I the 12-7 USA victory.
Arellano led all scoring with seven goals (five on penalty conversions). Hall added three goals and Ganzi was credited with two goals for the win. De Bruin led the South African attack with three goals. MacKenzie scored twice and Williams and Evans each scored a goal in a losing effort.
Arellano was named MVP for his efforts on the field and Hall’s 10-year-ikd gray mare, Candela, received Best Playing Pony honors.
(Photo by Alex Pacheco)