Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
High Ground Polo, making its fall debut, won the USPA Fall Plates Tournament Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
In front of a good crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience, High Ground Polo defeated Dutta Corp, 10-9, in the final medium goal tournament of the fall season.
High Ground Polo (Joe Meyer, JJ Celis, Nic Roldan, Scott Swerdlin) came from behind after trailing Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Wes Finlayson, Jesse Bray, Carlitos Gracida) the first two chukkers.
American 8-goaler Nic Roldan was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high seven goals and playing well defensively. It was the first time in Roldan’s storied career he won the USPA Fall Plates tournament.
“It was a great game even though we started out being down, 4-1,” Roldan said. “That was not ideal. We kept it together and didn’t panic. We pulled away and then almost lost our advantage but we rallied hard as a team.”
Joy, an 8-year-old Dark Bay mare owned and ridden by Celis, was named Best Playing Pony.
Dutta Corp took advantage of early turnovers by High Ground Polo to take an early 4-1 lead in the opening chukker.
The momentum started to turn when Roldan shut down Bray’s goal attempt just in front of the goal and scored back-to-back goals early in the second chukker to trail by only one (4-3).
Celis tied the game early in the third chukker with his first goal of the game and Roldan came back with a quick goal for High Ground Polo to take the lead (5-4) and never relinquished it after that.
High Ground Polo looked even stronger in the second half. Roldan scored his fifth goal of the game early in the fourth chukker for a 7-4 advantage.
Dutta Corp came within one goal four times in the second half but High Ground Polo put the game out of reach when Celis scored on an offside shot after taking his defender out and Roldan scored an insurance goal. Bray scored the final goal of the game with 17 seconds left.
Bray led Dutta Corp with four goals. Gracida added two penalty goals.
Barbarossa (Santos Bollini, Leo Mandelbaum, Juan Bollini, Julio Ezcurra) won the consolation round robin with wins over Travieso (Tony Calle, Guille Aguero, Carlucho Arellano, Tim Dutta) and Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Bob Puetz, Brandon Phillips, Martin Estrada).
Grand Champions enjoyed its most successful medium goal season in its nine-year history.
The six tournament winners were Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Leo Mandelbaum, Guille Aguero, Brandon Phillips) in the Tackeria Invitational; US Trust (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Luis Escobar, Jesse Bray) in the US Trust Cup; Postage Stamp Farm (Julio Ezcurra, Brandon Phillips, Leo Mandelbaum, Annabelle Gundlach) in the USPA Fall Classic; Dutta Corp (Tim Dutta, Martin Estrada, JJ Celis, Wes Finlayson) in the USPA Kay Colee Memorial; FlexJet (Melissa Ganzi, Leo Mandelbaum, Martin Estrada, Juan Bollini) and High Ground (Joe Meyer, JJ Celis, Nic Roldan, Scott Swerdlin).
Grand Champions’ hardworking staff now turns its focus to the exciting 20-goal polo season which got under way Wednesday with two games in the much-anticipated North American Cup.
Grand Champions is one of only four clubs in the nation to stage 20-goal tournaments. The club is hosting this week’s USPA North American Cup and Nov. 11-22 USPA National 20-Goal tournament.
The 2015 fall schedule also features a world-class doubleheader on November 28th featuring the fourth annual International Cup which has become a holiday weekend tradition marking the end of the fall season.
Team USA, which has won the first three International Cups against England, Chile and Mexico, will host South Africa in the featured game.
This year’s U.S. team features Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Julio Arellano and Nic Roldan. South Africa’s lineup is Selby Williamson, Chris MacKenzie, Gareth Evans and Tom de Bruin.
In the opening doubleheader game, the legacy of polo great Carlos Gracida continues with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo game, featuring some of the sport’s greats.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the entire fall schedule worldwide with entertaining polo broadcasters Toby Wayman and Dale Schwetz.
ChukkerTV’s state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
JJ Celis of High Ground maintains possession of the ball. Photo by Alex Pacheco
Grand Champions, with five well-manicured fields and turnkey facility, is enjoying its finest fall season in the nine-year history of the club.
Grand Champions is one of the busiest and most innovative clubs in North America catering to men, women and youth polo players at all levels.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
Best Playing Pony “Joy,” a dark bay mare owned and ridden by JJ Celis.
Photo by Alex Pacheco
2015 FALL SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Friday, Sunday: USPA North American 20-Goal Cup; Saturday: Florida USPA Interscholastic Regular Season Games, Polo West Arena, Palm Beach Polo vs. Grand Champions Girls, 10:30 a.m. and Grand Champions Open vs. The Polo School, 11:30 a.m.; Nov. 18-22: USPA National 20-Goal Tournament; Nov. 28: Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial and International Cup, Team USA vs. South Africa.