Audi (Scott Swerdlin, Jeff Blake, Sugar Erskine and Carlucho Arellano) put the first two goals on the scoreboard in Monday’s semifinal of the 2015 USPA National Twenty-goal Championship, riding to an 11-9 win over Barbarossa Leather (Leo Mandelbaum, Julio Ezcurra, Tommy Biddle and Martin Estrada) and a date in Wednesday’s tournament final against FlexJet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini).
Audi and Barbarossa Leather both jockeyed for position and ball control in the early minutes of the first chukker before Audi’s Jeff Blake broke free and drove the ball through the goalposts for a 1-0 lead. Barbarossa Leather fought to get back into the game, but it was Audi with the momentum. Blake scored his second goal of the game a minute later to go up by two goals, 2-0.
Barbarossa Leather struck back early in the second period with Tommy Biddle their first goal of the game, 2-1. Nearly four minutes had passed before Carlucho Arellano scored for Audi with a goal from the field, 3-1. A foul by Barbarossa Leather sent Arellano to the penalty line where he converted a 40-yard shot to extend the Audi lead to three goals, 4-1. The Audi offense continued to control the flow of the game with Blake’s third goal of the day ending the chukker with Audi on top, 5-1.
Audi 6-goaler Sugar Erskine stretched the lead to five goals with the opening goal of the third period, 6-1. That was when the Barbarossa Leather offense emerged. Consecutive goals from Martin Estrada, Julio Ezcurra and Biddle (penalty conversion) that cut the lead back to a manageable two goals, 6-4. Blake scored the final goal of the chukker for the third time and Audi celebrated the 7-4 halftime lead.
A refocused Barbarossa Leather team charged onto the field for the fourth chukker. Biddle scored the first goal of the second half just 17 seconds into play, 7-5. A minute later another Biddle score had Audi defending a delicate one goal edge, 7-6. A 40-yard penalty conversion from Arellano ended the period had had Audi in the lead by two goals again, 8-6.
The Audi offense continued to roll up the goals in fifth chukker action. Two goals from Arellano were countered by a single goal from Leo Mandelbaum in the final seconds of the period. The Audi lead had grown to three goals, 10-7.
Erskine scored the first goal of the sixth chukker fir an 11-7 Audi lead and less than four minutes remaining in regulation play. Biddle battled to get Barbarossa Leather back into the game. A goal from Biddle at the 3:14 mark gave them a flicker of hope, but eh clock was against them. Biddle’s sixth goal of the game signaled the end as Audi held on for the 11-9 victory.
Arellano scored five times for Audi (two on penalty shots).Blake added four goals and Erskine scored twice. Biddle’s six goals led all scoring on the day. Teammates Estrada, Mandelbaum and Ezcurra added single goals in the loss.
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.
Audi takes control early, rolls on for 11-9 win and a date in Wednesday’s final