Postage Stamp Farm won its’ first 16-goal tournament of the winter polo season Saturday at windswept Grand Champions Polo Club.
The foursome of Annabelle Gundlach, Tommy Collingwood, Brandon Phillips and Jeff Blake rallied in the fifth chukker to defeat Dutta Corp, 7-5, in the championship final of the John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy tournament.
“This is my first 16-goal win and first win where we created the team,” Gundlach said. “I am thrilled with the whole tournament.
Trailing 5-4, Phillips sent a long midfield pass to Collingwood who scored the tying goal with 3:22 left in the fifth chukker. In the closing seconds of the chukker, Gundlach took a perfect pass from Blake and after two nice approach shots came up with the go-ahead goal.
After a mostly defensive battle in the sixth chukker, Blake stole the ball and with 4:19 scored an insurance goal.
Dutta Corp’s Timmy Dutta, Mariano Gracida, Carlitos Gracida and Piki Diaz Alberdi had three opportunities to score in the final chukker but could not capitalize.
Blake, turning in one of his best performances of the season, was named Most Valuable Player.
“We were able to stick with the game plan because Brandon kept hammering away,” Blake said. “He was sticking to the game plan and we followed his lead. Tommy worked really hard and Annabelle’s score was unbelievable.
The hotly-contested game was close from the opening chukker. Dutta Corp took a 1-0 lead on handicap. Blake’s goal through a crowd tied the game at 1-1.
The teams took turns taking the lead in the first half with each scoring one goal per chukker for a 3-3 halftime tie.
After the teams tied again 4-4 on goals by Phillips and Carlitos Gracida, Dutta Corp took a 5-4 lead after Carlitos Gracida scored again after a nice run with 1:41 left in the chukker.
Postage Stamp Farm put it in another gear andshut out Dutta Corp in the final two chukkers.
“It took us four chukkers to figure out what was going on and then we were lucky enough to pull it off,” Collingwood said. “I’m very happy to win. It was a pleasure to play with this team. I’m happy we did well.
It was the first time Postage Stamp Farm’s foursome competed together in a tournament.
“Our work ethic was great, our goals just weren’t coming,” Phillips said. “We were playing them well in the field, we just weren’t finishing.
Postage Stamp Farm kept its composure despite missing several scoring opportunities. The chemistry was evident even though it was the first time Collingwood and Blake played together.
“He is easy to play with and a great player,” Collingwood said of the MVP.
Added Phillips, “We never got down on ourselves. We are four positive people. We’re not going to get down on each other as long as we are working hard and working for each other. When someone’s not yelling at you, you want to work for them. We were very lucky to put this team together, it worked out for a reason.”
Blake replaced Kris Kampsen, who was recovering from a mountain biking accident and only started playing again on Friday. Collingwood became available after competing in half of the 20-goal season.
Postage Stamp Farm had balanced scoring. Phillips had three goals, all on penalties; Blake scored two and Collingwood and Gundlach each had one. In addition to the one goal on handicap, Carlitos Gracida scored his team’s remaining four goals.
Norteno, a 9-year-old Bay gelding owned and played by Carlitos Gracida in the fourth chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.