By Alex Webbe
Heavy rains caused for the rescheduling of Sunday’s scheduled semifinals of the 2015 USA National Twenty-Goal Championship at the Grand Champions Club, but the day wasn’t a total loss. The morning contest that was slated to be played at 10am between FlexJet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini) and Travieso (Tony Calle, J.J. Celis, Facundo Obregon and Jesse Bray) took place at 4pm on one of the club’s drier fields, resulting in a 10-9 overtime win for FlexJet.
Travieso receive two goals by handicap from the 19-goal FlexJet team and added a goal from J.J. Celis for the only goal in the opening chukker. FlexJet was unable to mount an effective attack and trailed 3-0 after the first period.
Nic Roldan opened the second chukker with a goal from the field that got FlexJet on the scoreboard, 3-1. Jesse Bray took advantage of a FlexJet foul by converting a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, 4-1. Juan Bollini scored on a 60-yard penalty shot for FlexJet followed by a pair of goals from Roldan (one on a penalty conversion) that leveled the game at 4-4 at the end of the second period.
Both teams carried the battle up and down the field in third chukker action with Melissa Ganzi scoring the only two goal of the period from the field. A determined FlexJet defense shut down the Travieso attack as the first half ended with FlexJet on top of a 6-4 score.
Ganzi’s third goal of the match opened the scoring in the fourth chukker as the second half got underway. Travieso fired back with goals from Tony Calle and Bray. The chukker ended with FlexJet defending a narrow 7-6 lead.
Midway through the fifth, Celis tied the score at 7-7. Roldan answered with his fourth goal of the game, edging Travieso, 8-7. Bray tied the game at 8-8 for the final goal of the chukker.
Scoring was at a premium in the sixth and final chukker of regulation play. Bray got Travieso on the scoreboard first with a 30-yard penalty conversion, 9-8, and time running down on the game clock. A last minute rally had FlexJet in Travieso’s end of the field with FlexJet battling to score and Travieso doing their best to deny them. With seconds on the clock, Travieso committed a foul that sent Roldan to the penalty line where he converted the goal for a 9-9 tie, forcing a sudden-death overtime chukker.
Both teams left the field to retrieve fresh mounts, returning moments later to decide the first National Twenty-Goal finalist of the tournament. Both teams struggled for possession of the ball in the early going, with FlexJet taking early control. In a rush toward the Travieso goal, FlexJet was fold and Roldan took his position at the penalty line where he converted the 40-yard shot for the winning goal, 10-9, and a spot in Wednesday afternoon’s tournament final.
Roldan led the field in scoring with six goals (three on penalty conversions). Ganzi added three goals from the field and Bollini was credited with a penalty goal in the team victory. Bray’s four goals (two on penalty conversions) led the Travieso attack. Celis scored twice, Calle added a goal and the team received two goals on handicap.
Play continues in the 2015 USA National Twenty-Goal Championship on Monday at the Grand Champions Polo Club with a 3pm match between Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlucho Arellano, Sugar Erskine and Jeff Blake) and Barbarossa Leather (Julio Ezcurra, Leo Mandelbaum, Martin Estrada and Tommy Biddle.
The Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414. The matches are free of charge and the public is invited to attend. The Grand Champions Polo Hotline is 561-373-0073.
(Photo by Alex Pacheco)