On a beautiful breezy morning in Wellington, Florida, Grand Champions Polo Club fielded a strong NYTS qualifier with three of the 2015 Zone 3 team members (Grant Ganzi, Justin Daniels, and Benji Daniels) taking to the field for another chance to qualify for the 2016 National Championships.
Grand Champions Green
Landen Daniels Grand Champions Purple
The game started off quick and both teams were eager to put some goals on the scoreboard. After trading a handful of well-planned runs, the score was 0-0 nearing the end of the first chukker, but some quick work from the Daniels brothers put the Grand Champions Green team up by 1. Fueled by their first chukker goal Justin Daniels (the day’s leading scorer) added another goal at the start of the second chukker. After two unanswered goals, Grand Champions Purple, led by Grant Ganzi, decided to switch up their defense, marking the older Daniels boys much more closely and shutting down their bigger passes before there was too much momentum.
With their new found defensive strategy and some effective halftime coaching, Santos Bollini came into the third chukker determined and put up a quick goal for Purple, putting them on the scoreboard. After some quick stick work and big passes from Ganzi to Bollini and Riley Ganzi they added another goal to end the chukker 2-2.
With both teams going into the fourth, with a tied game, the pressure was on. After a handful of runs up and down the field, Justin Daniels converted a penalty 2 to put Green up by one. With the clock counting down and only a one goal margin, both teams were playing their hardest to go for the win, but the teamwork of the Green team could not be matched by the defensive strategy of Ganzi combined with one more goal from Justin Daniels to end the game with Grand Champions Green on top 4-2.
Overall it was a fantastic day with fantastic polo. Dale Schewtz and Toby Wayman commented that there were “more open passing plays than they had seen in a while” and were impressed by the quality of polo from all the young players. At the end of the day, Justin Daniels, Grant Ganzi, Santos Bollini, and Riley Ganzi were selected as All-Stars based on their horsemanship, sportsmanship, playing ability at their current handicap, and team playing ability. These four players will join the master list of 2016 All-Stars and will be eligible to represent their Zone (Zone 3- Florida) at the 2016 National Championships, which will be held over Labor Day weekend at Myopia Polo Club.
Winning Team: Grand Champions Green – Justin Daniels, Benji Daniels, Alyssa Tranchilla, Landen Daniels
Runners-Up: Grand Champions Purple – Grant Ganzi, Santos Bollini, Rachel Kelly, Riley Ganzi
All-Stars: Justin Daniels, Santos Bollini, Riley Ganzi, Grant Ganzi