Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
Travieso took up where it left off during the spring season by capturing the coveted USPA North American 20-Goal Cup Sunday at windswept Grand Champions Polo Club.
The foursome of Tony Calle, JJ Celis, Facundo Obregon and Jesse Bray were relentless in their impressive 12-6 rout of FlexJet.
In front of a packed house and ChukkerTV worldwide audience, Travieso, the winningest team during the spring season, built a 4-1 lead with selfless play and horsepower in the opening chukker and never relinquished it.
Five-goaler Jesse Bray, one of the nation’s top up-and-coming players, was named Most Valuable Player for his dominating performance.
Bray scored a game-high six goals including an 80-yarder at a standstill. He defended well throughout the game taking and making hooks.
“Jesse’s game is awesome,” said Audi padron Marc Ganzi. “He is a warrior. He is well-suited for weather like this.”
Thirty-Two, an 8-year-old Dark Bay mare, ridden and owned by Celis, was named Best Playing Pony.
“Travieso played four-man polo today and had every answer for FlexJet,” Ganzi said. “They were hitting back-handers and playing for each other. When you do that, you create a lot of space. They had so much space today because their turns were quicker and they weren’t trying to possess the ball. I’m shocked [at the outcome].”
While Travieso was coming off an opening round bye and 9-8 semifinal overtime win over Postage Stamp Farm, FlexJet’s foursome of Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini played three games over six days.
FlexJet was coming off hardfought wins over Casablanca and Audi. The team had less than two days rest for horses and players for the final.
Winds gusting up to 20 miles per hour played havoc with the both teams’ penalty shots.
FlexJet came within three goals (6-3) in the second chukker by winning its throw-ins and came within three again (7-4) in the third chukker but could get no closer. Travieso built a 12-4 lead by the end of the fifth chukker.
Celis and Calle, a Lynn University business major, each had two goals for Travieso, which also received a two-goal handicap lead. Roldan led FlexJet scoring with four goals.
Later on Sunday, the USPA National 20-Goal Tournament got underway with Barbarossa Leather and Audi winning opening round games. Barbarossa defeated Casablanca, 10-7, and Audi edged Postage Stamp Farm, 14-11.
Two games are set for Wednesday with FlexJet playing Barbarossa Leather at 10 a.m. and Travieso playing KIG at 3 p.m. Two more bracket games are Friday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The semifinals are Sunday and finals on Wednesday.
“This has become a very competitive fall season,” Ganzi said.
The final 20-goal tournament of the fall season features most of the same lineups as the North American Cup. KIG will make its fall debut with padron Bash Kazi.
Team rosters are:
Audi (18): Sugar Erskine, 6, Jeff Blake, 6, Carlucho Arellano, 5, Marc Ganzi, 1.
Barbarossa Leather (17): Julio Ezcurra, 4, Leo Mandelbaum, 3, Martin Estrada, 4, Tommy Biddle, 6.
Casablanca (18): Jeff Hall, 7, Guille Aguero, 6, Grant Ganzi, 1, Carlitos Gracida, 4.
FlexJet (19): Melissa Ganzi, 0, Juan Bollini, 5, Jason Crowder, 6, Nic Roldan, 8.
KIG (19): Bash Kazi, 0, Brandon Phillips, 5, Julio Arellano, 8, Pelon Escapite, 6.
Travieso (17): JJ Celis, 4, Tony Calle, 2, Jesse Bray, 5, Facundo Obregon, 6.
In last year’s USPA National 20-Goal, Flight Options defeated Team USPA, 14-13, to win the title. Roldan was named MVP after scoring eight goals.
Grand Champions recently completed its most successful six-tournament medium goal season.
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).
Jason Crowder of FlexJet tries to mount offensive charge. Photo by Alex Pacheco
Team sponsor FlexJet has been a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies since 2013, committed to creating premium travel experiences and providing access to the most modern, technologically-advanced aircraft in the industry on a daily basis, going above and beyond world-class private travel experiences.
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.
Grand Champions, with five well-manicured fields and turnkey facility, is enjoying its finest fall season in the nine-year history of the club.
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.
Grand Champions Boutique is open for business for all your polo shopping needs. Photo by Alex Pacheco
2015 FALL SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Nov. 25: USPA National 20-Goal Cup; Nov. 28: Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial and International Cup, Team USA vs. South Africa.