By Darlene Ricker

In a very tight, physical game, Grand Champions Polo Club encountered a tough Postage Stamp Farm team Thursday in the 2017 Joe Barry Memorial at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. With an 8-6 victory, Grand Champions advances to the semifinals.

The first chukka set up what was to come for the rest of the game. Each team committed four fouls, leading to two penalty goals on three attempts for both Nic Roldan and Kris Kampsen. The high number of fouls early in the contest kept the game on the penalty line and only led to one shot combined at goal for both teams through the first chukka.

The second chukka was a different story, as the game opened up a bit with fewer fouls and more scoring chances for both teams. With Marc Ganzi substituting for son Grant Ganzi (injured in practice), up front pulling Grand Champions Polo Club forward, the team made five shots on goal. Ganzi converted two of them to help his team take the lead. A slow-moving third chukka only led to one penalty goal for Roldan and a 5-3 lead for Grand Champions Polo Club at the half.

Postage Stamp Farm were just never able to quite break away and create enough scoring chances, only shooting six times throughout the game. Patrona Annabelle Gundlach scored her first goal of the season in the fifth chukka to tie the game at 5. But it was closely followed by goals from Roldan and Ignacio Laprida, which helped Grand Champions take the lead into the sixth. From there Grand Champions never looked back. They did not give Mariano Aguerre or Kampsen any space to operate and rode off with the win.

Goose Creek Edges Out Coca-Cola

In a critical game for both teams—trying to book a spot in Sunday’s quarterfinals—Goose Creek capitalized on a foul-prone opponent. Five fouls in the first chukka by Coca-Cola led to Mariano Gonzalez converting two penalty shots. Meanwhile, Goose Creek played an open, clean game, only fouling four times the whole day and never giving Coca-Cola and Julio Arellano a penalty shot at goal.

The middle of the game saw a shift in the action. The game took on a quick pace with very few fouls, but also very few shots at goal. Neither team could consistently break away for multiple scoring chances. At halftime Goose Creek held a 6-4 lead, even though they only shot at goal four times, while Coca-Cola managed six shots.

The game began to go decidedly Goose Creek’s way in the fifth chukka, when the team scored three goals from the field on five shots. Two more goals by Mariano Gonzalez brought his total up to 7 on the day. A long run from son Peke Gonzalez helped Goose Creek take a commanding 4-goal lead into the final chukka. Strong efforts by Del Walton and Julian de Lusarreta weren’t enough to help Coca-Cola make any goals in the sixth, and Goose Creek came away with the 11-6 victory.

The Joe Barry Memorial continues Friday at 3 p.m. with a faceoff between between Villa del Lago Modere and Mt. Brilliant. Their game last Saturday was postponed in the first chukka due to a British-style downpour.

All games in the tournament are being live streamed on the USPA Polo Network: uspolo.org.

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