The young players on the Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA team (Todd Thurston, Jared Zenni, Geronimo Obregon and Jesse Bray) looked like world beaters in the opening chukkers of play in the final of the 2016 $50,000 National 12-goal at the Grand Champions Polo Club Tuesday afternoon as they shot out to a 7-2 lead over Pony Express (Benji Daniels, Justin Daniels, Bautista Urbina and Tomas Goti) on their way to a 13-12 win and a big payday.
Pony Express got on the scoreboard first with Tomas Goti converting a penalty shot from the 60-yard in the opening 30 seconds of play. Goti added another goal from the field on the end of a 130-yard run that had Pony Express in front, 2-0. Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA bounced back scoring three goals in the following two minutes on goals from Jared Zenni, Jesse Bray and Geronimo Obregon to end the chukker with a 3-2 lead.
The Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA assault continued into the second period. Bray converted a 30-yard penalty shot for a goal at the 6:12 mark, 4-2. Zenni and Bray added single goals from the field that extended the Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA lead to four goals, 6-2. Goti scored on a 40-yard penalty, but Obregon scored the final goal of the chukker on a run of over 200-yards that was punctuated by a high lofted shot for a goal that had Pony Express trailing, 7-3.
Pony Express attempted to recover in third chukker action. Goti and Obregon traded penalty goals with Goti converting from 60-yards and Obregon driving the ball through the goalposts from 30-yards out, 8-4. The momentum seemed to have shifted with Goti picking up steam and hammering in two more goals, bringing Pony Express to within two goals of the lead, 8-6 at the end of the first half.
In a defensively-themed fourth period Todd Thurston scored the first goal of the chukker on a pass from Zenni in the opening minute of play. Four minutes later Goti responded with his seventh goal of the game. The period ended with Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA retaining the lead, 9-7.
Fifth chukker goals from Zenni and Obregon extended the Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA lead to four goals, 11-7. Goti scored on another 60-yard penalty shot but it was Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA with the three goal, 11-8 advantage going into the final chukker of regulation play.
Pony Express caught Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA napping in the opening minutes of the sixth period. Goals from the field from Goti, Justin Daniels and Bautista Urbina leveled the score at 11-11 with 4:48 on the clock. Bray gave the lead back to Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA with a goal at the 3:44 mark, 12-11. Urbina leveled the score again at 2:36, but Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA wasn’t going to be denied. With 1:25 remaining in the game, Zenni scored his fourth goal of the game to carry his team to a 13-12 win.
Goti led all scoring with nine goals (five on penalty conversions). Urbina added two goals and Justin Daniels scored once in the loss. Zenni, Bray and Obregon scored four goals apiece for the win with teammate Thurston adding a goal for the victory.
Bray earned MVP honors for his efforts on the day with Bob Daniels’ “61” (played by Goti) being named Best Playing Pony.