Wins by Barbarossa Leather and Audi open the 2015 USPA National Twenty-Goal Championship
By Alex Webbe
In the shadows of the morning’s USPA North American Cup final at the Grand Champions Polo Club the USPA National Twenty-Goal Championship kicked off with two Sunday afternoon matches.
In the opening National Twenty-Goal match of the day Barbarossa Leather (Julio Ezcurra, Leo Mandelbaum, Martin Estrada and Tommy Biddle) received one goal by handicap from Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Guille Aguero, Jeff Hall and Carlitos Gracida) before galloping out to a 7-2 halftime lead and a 9-7 opening round victory.
Casablanca’s Grant Ganzi scored the opening goal of the match from the field; tying the score at 1-1 (Barbarossa received one goal by handicap). Jeff hall pushed Casablanca in front with his first goal of the game, 2-1. Tommy Biddle scored the tying goal to end the first period in a 2-2 deadlock.
Barbarossa Leather team captain Leo Mandelbaum scored the first goal of the second chukker with Biddle converting a 60-yar penalty shot. Casablanca was unable to score on the Barbarossa Leather defense and fell behind, 4-2.
Fouls hurt Casablanca in the third with Biddle converting all three opportunities for goals. For the second consecutive chukker Casablanca was unable to score and trailed by five goals, 7-2, at the end of the first half.
A refocused Casablanca team took the field in the fourth chukker and shut down their attack for the first time all day. A 30-yard penalty goal was all the offense Casablanca could muster, however, and after four periods of play they continued to trail, 7-3.
Julio Ezcurra and Biddle added single goals in the fifth period. Casablanca was unable to score for the third time in five chukkers as Barbarossa Leather stretched their lead to six goals, 9-3.
A last chukker had Ganzi leading the Casablanca rally scoring three times himself (twice on penalty conversions). Hall added a goal while holding the Barbarossa Leather offense to a single goal from Ezcurra. The Casablanca rally fell short with Barbarossa Leather recording the 9-7 win.
Audi 14, Postage Stamp Farm 11
In the 3pm National Twenty-Goal Championship match, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlucho Arellano, Sugar Erskine and Jeff Blake) trailed Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Brandon Phillips, Julio Arellano and Brad Blake) early but bounced back for a 14-11 win.
Postage Stamp Farm received one goal by handicap from the 18-goal Audi team but were unable to add to it in the first chukker. Jeff Blame and Marc Ganzi put goals on the scoreboard for Audi for the 2-1 edge.
Second period goals from Sugar Erskine and Carlucho Arellano extended the Audi lead to three goals, 4-1. Brandon Phillips cut the lead to two goals, 4-2, at the 1:50 mark and added a second goal with 58 seconds on the clock that cut the lead to a single goal, 4-3.
Phillips converted a 30-yad penalty shot for a goal to open the third period in a 4-4 tie with Audi. Goals from Jeff Blake and Carlucho Arellano extended the Audi lead to two goals, 6-4. Phillips and Carlucho Arellano traded goals to close out the chukker with Audi in the lead by two goals, 7-5.
The Arellano brothers stole the show in fourth chukker action. Julio Arellano opened the scoring with a goal for Postage Stamp Farm that brought them to within a goal of the lead again, 7-6. His younger brother, Carlucho Arellano, responded with a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal, 8-6. Julio Arellano countered with a penalty goal of his own, 8-7. Carlucho Arellano answered back with a goal from the field for a 9-7 Audi lead. Julio Arellano converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, 9-8, but with 20 seconds left in the chukker, Erskine scored a goal for Audi that had them back in the lead by two goals, 10-8, with two periods of regulation time left to play.
Goals were hard to come by in a physical fifth chukker. Midway through the period Erskine added a goal to extend the Audi lead, 11-8. Phillips responded with a goal from the field a mite later. At the end of the period Audi maintained their lead, 11-9.
Carlucho Arellano scored on a 40-yard penalty shot to open the sixth chukker, 12-9. Julio Arellano got Postage Stamp Farm into double digits, 12-10, followed by a goal from teammate Phillips that had them to within a goal of the lead, again, 12-11. Goals from Jeff Blake and Marc Ganzi ended the game with Audi driving off with the 14-11 win.
Carlucho Arellano led the Audi attack with six goals. Erskine and Jeff Blake scored three goals apiece and Ganzi was credited with two goals in the win. Phillips led the Postage Stamp Farm offense with six goals. Julio Arellano added four goals in a losing effort.
Flex Jet and Travieso, the USPA North American finalists, will be joining the competition on Wednesday with FlexJet meeting Barbarossa Leather in a 10am match followed by a 3pm battle between Travieso and Postage Stamp Farm.
Friday’s National Twenty-Goal action will pit Travieso against Audi in 10am play followed by a 3pm contest between FlexJet and Casablanca.
Tournament semifinals are slated to be played on Sunday, November 22nd with games at noon and 3pm. The final of the 2015 USPA National Twenty-Goal Championship will take place on Wednesday, November 25th at 3pm.
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)