Casablanca Rallies in the Second Half to Claim the Herbie Pennell Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach
Coca-Cola Claims Overtime Victory In Consolation Match
The sidelines of the main field were filled to capacity with enthusiastic spectators as players mounted for the final of the Herbie Pennell Cup between the Casablanca and Villa del Lago teams. The Herbie Pennell Cup is one of three 20-goal tournaments held at the International Polo Club Palm Beach during the winter season. Villa del Lago overcame Lechuza Caracas in the semifinal to secure their position in today’s match. Casablanca, a strong team brimming with young talent, swiftly defeated Coca-Cola on Friday. Both teams are coming off strong semifinal wins, arrived to the field confident in their abilities to control the final Sunday game.
Polito Pieres, recently raised to a10-goal rating in Argentina, started off the game on a flashy note. Pieres showed off for the crowd as he dribbled the ball in the air and through the goal posts. Roldan battled his way through a crowd of horses and popped the ball through the air to add two consecutive goals to the Casablanca tally. Pieres quickly answered back, scoring two more goals for the Villa del Lago team. The first chukker ended with Villa del Lago on top 3-2.
Miguel Novillo Astrada fought back for the Casablanca team and took advantage of a foul called against Villa del Lago, easily shooting a penalty three through the uprights. Agustin Obregon wowed the audience with a difficult, deep neck shot through the goal followed by two more goals, one by Pieres and another by Obregon to bring Villa del Lago up by three goals, 6-3 to end the 2nd chukker.
Villa del Lago played an strong, offensive third chukker to push the team further ahead. Three goals scored by Villa del Lago and two goals scored by Casablanca, kept Villa del Lago in the lead 9-5 at half.
Casablanca, down by four goals, had to make their move in order to stay in the game. Roldan and M. Novillo Astrada did just that, scoring a combined three goals. The Casablanca team made their comeback run as players streaked up and down the field putting Casablanca within one goal, 9-8.
A right-of-way infraction gave Casablanca an open goal shot from the 30-yard line. Roldan tapped the team’s ninth goal of the game through to tie the score. A similar foul called against Casablanca put Villa del Lago at the advantage, giving Pieres an easy goal from the 30-yard mark. Novillo Astrada sailed through a pack of players to add a third goal to the Casablanca tally for the 5th chukker, once again tying the score 10-10.
It came down to the wire in the sixth chukker as both teams battled for control of the ball. Novillo Astrada was the first to put the ball through the goal giving Casablanca the edge. A second goal by Roldan aided in their offensive effort and kept their momentum rolling. With their lead now gone, Pieres was forced to turn on the magic and crushed a shot through the goal. An end of the chukker score by Roldan ended the game with Casablanca on top 13-11.
After a tough game, the players were presented with awards by Herbie Pennell’s son, Bob Pennell. The horses in polo are considered to be athletes and are judged throughout the game for their ability. Paulina, a mare owned and ridden by Novillo Astrada was named Best Playing Pony. Novillo Astrada was awarded Most Valuable Player.
Grant Ganzi and Juancito Bollini, the young duo of the Casablanca team have been playing together since they were children. Ganzi described,
“Playing with my best friend is incredible, there isn’t anything better,” Ganzi said. “The chemistry between us on the field is just there.”
Roldan has played with Bollini and Ganzi over the past few years and has been a guiding force in their polo careers. Playing with highly-ranked players like Novillo Astrada and Roldan in 20-goal play is likely to advance their skill.
Following the game Roldan discussed his team’s comeback strategy.
“The first few chukkers we were light, every time we hit the ball we gave it to the other team,” he said. “We finally sent someone to Polito and figured it out.”
The Coca-Cola team pulled off their first victory of the season in the Herbie Pennell Consolation Final against Lechuza held at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
“It sure feels better to win” chuckled Kris Kampsen as he pulled his boots off after the game.
After a tough loss to Casablanca on Friday, Coca-Cola revisited their game strategy and arrived to the field ready to bring home a win. The Coca-Cola team is unique in that every member is considered to be an American player. Team sponsor, Gillian Johnston, is one of only two female patrons playing at the high goal level.
Juan Martin Nero, a strong captain of the Lechuza team, just arrived from Argentina where he won all three major tournaments. His innate skill with the ball is a treat for spectators to watch.
The consolation match began with the score bouncing back and forth for the first two chukkers. Johnston, playing the number one position, put two goals on the board for her team in addition to a goal each by Julio Arellano and Kampsen. Nero and Marcos Alberdi led the scoring initiative for the Lechuza team. Teams were tied at 4 goals a piece at the end of the second chukker.
Lechuza charged through the third chukker, scoring four goals. Nero sank a penalty-four shot through the goal and added an additional tally from the field. Team sponsor, Victor Vargas, and Martin Espain each added a goal to push Lechuza up 8-4.
Coca-Cola reorganized their offensive attack, scoring three goals in the fourth chukker. Nero easily converted a penalty four from the 60 yard line to keep Lechuza in the lead 9-7.
Vargas tore down the field to start chukker five with another goal for the Lechuza team. A penalty in favor of Lechuza pushed the team further ahead. However, an infraction called against Lechuza allowed Arellano to tap the ball through the goal from the 30-yard mark. A miscued shot was called a safety giving Coca-Cola a penalty six. Coca-Cola hung on at the end of the fifth chukker down by two goals, 9-11.
With seven minutes and thirty seconds remaining in regulation time, Arellano stole the ball and added the 10th tally to the Coca-Cola score. On a clutch play, Wroe scored the 11th goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Johnston scored the winning overtime goal on a long pass from Arellano to end the game 12-11. Her scoring efforts were acknowledged with the Most Valuable Player Award. Torta, played by Kampsen, owned by Sugar Erskine, was named Best Playing Pony.
“It was a very tough game,” said Kampsen. “Lechuza had a very good third chukker. We had to fight back from that. Julio gave us a great pep talk at the half and Sugar was really helpful coaching from the side. We stayed hungry and true to our game plan and we ended playing the game the way we wanted.”
Tournament Ranking Goals
Polito Pieres 13
Miguel Novillo Astrada 13
Juan Martin Nero 12
Nick Roldan 10
Julio Arellano 9
Agustin Obregon 6
Kris Kampsen 5
Marcos Alberdi 3
Juan Bollini jr 3
Martin Espain 2
Julian De Lusarreta 2
Mason Wroe 1
Gillian Johnston 3
Victor Vargas 2
Casablanca vs. Villa del Lago: 2-3,3-6,5-9,8-9,10-10,13-11
Casablanca: Nick Roldan (4), Miguel Novillo Astrada (8), Juan Bollini Jr (1)
Villa del Lago: Polito Pieres (8), Agustin Obregon (3)
Coke vs. Lechuza Caracas: 1-3,4-4,4-8,7-9,9-11,11-11,12-11
Coca Cola: Gilian Johnston (3), Kris Kampsen (2), Julio Arellano (6), Mason Wroe (1)
Lechuza Caracas: Victor Vargas (2), Marcos Alberdi (2), Juan Martin Nero (6), Martin Espain (1)