By Alex Webbe
Facundo Obregon scored seven goals including three in the final chukker to carry Lucchese (John Muse, Tete Grahn, Facundo Obregon and Jeff Hall) to a 13-10 win over Alegria/Valiente (Julian Mannix, Robert Jornayvaz, Santiago Torres and Sterling Giannico) Sunday afternoon in the final of the Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open at the Santa Barbara Polo Club.
A large and enthusiastic crowd watched Obregon score the first goal of the day on a penalty shot followed by a goal from the field from American 7-goaler Jeff Hall. Disciplined defense kept Alegria/Valiente off the scoreboard for the opening chukker with Lucchese riding off the field with the opening 2-0 lead.
Second chukker goals from Julian Mannix and Sterling Giannico tied the game at 2-2, when Lucchese started to roll. Goals from Obregon and Hall were followed by a goal from Lucchese team captain John Muse. After two chukkers of play Lucchese held a three goal lead over Alegria/Valiente, 5-2.
Santi Torres lit a fire under the Alegria/Valiente attack in the third period. Torres scored his first goal of the game on a pass from Giannico and added another on a well-placed shot through the goalposts that cut the Lucchese lead to a single goal, 5-4. Julian Mannix scored his second goal of the game that tied the game at five goals apiece. Obregon scored on a 40-yard penalty shot to take the lead back for Lucchese, 6-5, but Alegria/Valiente wasn’t through. With time running down, Giannico broke through a crowd of defenders deep in the Lucchese end of the field and wove his way to the goal mouth where he scored to end the first half all even at 6-6.
Obregon converted a 30-yard penalty shot to record his fourth goal of the game and break the tie, 7-6. Muse followed a scoring run by Hall and tapped in a loose ball in the goal mouth for a two goal Lucchese lead, 8-6. Mannix countered with a penalty goal and Tete Grahn ended the fourth chukker with his first goal of the day to keep Lucchese in front by two goals, 9-7.
Grahn’s second goal of the afternoon extended the Lucchese lead to three goals, 10-7, when Alegria/Valiente started to rally. Mannix converted a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal and then stole the ball from Hall and raced down the field to score, cutting the Lucchese lead to a single goal, 10-9, with one chukker remaining.
Lucchese returned to the field for the sixth chukker on their top mounts and pressed the attack from the outset. An Alegria/Valiente foul sent Obregon to the penalty line where he converted the shot for a goal, stretching the Lucchese lead to two goals, 11-9. Another goal from the field by Obregon had Lucchese by three goals, 12-9 as the clock continued to run. Another 40-yard penalty conversion by Obregon put the final nail in the Alegria/Valiente coffin with Lucchese leading by four goals and just over a minute left in regulation lay. There was no quit in Alegria/Valiente, however, as they continued to try to mount a successful attack. With the Lucchese players trying not to take any unnecessary chances, Mannix made a run to score the final goal of the game in the 13-10 Lucchese victory.
Obregon led the pack with seven goals (five on penalty shots). Hall, Grahn and Muse scored two goals apiece. Mannix scored six goals (two on penalty conversions) for Alegria/Valiente. Teammates Torres and Giannico added two goals each in a losing effort.
Grahn was named MVP for his efforts while Hall’s 8-year-old black gelding, Rocky, earned Best Playing Pony honors.
The high-goal season at the Santa Barbara Polo Club will conclude with the 20-goal USPA Maserati Silver Cup, September 3-6.