The USPA Girls’ National Interscholastic Championship is part of the United States Polo Association’s Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) polo program, which is dedicated to growing the sport by coordinating activities, recruiting collegiate and scholastic institutions and providing organized competition at the regional and national levels with an emphasis on sportsmanship, fairness and safety.
Hosted at the Virginia Polo Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, five teams comprised of 24 girls are currently vying for the chance to take home the national championship this year, with teams representing Central Coast/Santa Barbara Polo Club, Garrison Forest School, Maryland Polo Club, Toronto Polo Club and Midland Polo Club.
In the first semifinal match, Maryland Polo Club represented by Sophie Grant, Maddie Grant, Abbie Grant, Catie Stueck, Isabelle Conover and coach Kelly Wells defeated Central Coast Polo Club/Santa Barbara (CCPC/SB) represented by Andie Rupprecht, Petra Teixeira, Cory Williams, Mia Sweeney, Taylor Olcott and coach Megan Judge. Maryland started strong, scoring seven unanswered goals in the first chukker. CCPC/SB put four goals on the board in the second but Maryland maintained a comfortable lead going into the half 9-4.
Maddie Grant, the game high scorer with eleven goals on the day, continued to challenge the California team throughout the remainder of the third and fourth chukkers. Impressive defense by Maryland kept CCPC/SB at bay with only three goals from Williams in the second half. A final score 21-7, Maryland Polo Club triumphed over CCPC/SB and will move on to defend their championship title.
Garrison Forest School (GFS), represented by Emily Wiley, Hannah Reynolds, Lila Bennett, Olivia Reynolds and coach Cindy Halle faced off against Toronto Polo Club, represented by Clare Hearn, Jenna Tarshis, Molly Houlton, Clare Littlechild and coach Scott Weir in the second semifinal. GFS pulled ahead quickly in the first chukker and maintained a strong lead throughout the first half. Toronto, down by five after the first, put pressure on Garrison Forest in the second, scoring two quick goals but was unable to close the gap ending the half 9-4.
An unwavering Toronto battled until the very end but were only able to score three goals in the second half. GFS secured the win with a decisive 19-7 victory. GFS will advance to the finals on Sunday, April 23, at 1:00pm ET against longtime rivals Maryland Polo Club. Defending national champions Maryland will be on the hunt to add their names to the trophy for the fourth year. In 2016, the team took home the championship for the third consecutive year, defeating Garrison Forest 15-8 in the final at Empire Polo Club.
All photos © Mike Ryan.