Patagones Knocks Off Dutta Corp In Limited Edition 12-Goal Series Final At Grand Champions
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
Patagones won the battle of the unbeatens with a hardfought 11-8 victory over Dutta Corp Saturday in the championship final of the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Patagones (Santi Wulff, Joaquin Avendano, Benjamin Avendano, Tavi Usandizaga) finished the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record but it wasn’t easy against Dutta Corp (Tim Dutta, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Carlitos Gracida/Mariano Gracida).
Patagones survived a marathon battle with Dutta Corp in a penalty-marred game.
Usandizaga, 30, was named Most Valuable Player for his outstanding play. He shared team-high scoring honors with Wulff. Each had four goals. Joaquin Avendano, 16, scored one goal and his 18-year-old brother scored two.
“My team is very fun,” Usandizaga said. “It’s young guys and a good group. We have a very good organization. This was the first time we played together as a team.”
Wulff’s 11-year-old American thoroughbred mare Parca was selected Best Playing Pony.
“I have had her since she was 4 so I made her,” Wulff said.
Wulff said the victory was sweet because he played with his nephews Joaquin and Benjamin Avendano. It was also the first time Wulff teamed with Usandizaga.
“We changed our strategy and started hitting the ball at once without touching or holding it,” Wulff said. “We opened up the field and it worked.
“The kids that played with us started to score goals and be more involved. I play with my nephews so I know how they play since they were small.”
Dutta Corp was dealt a severe blow when Carlitos Gracida was injured early in the game. The 4-goaler suffered a severe riding muscle strain with2:18 left in the second chukker. He tried to return to the lineup but was unable to. He was replaced by his younger brother Mariano Gracida as their uncle Memo Gracida, legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler watched from the sidelines.
With so many fouls, it was hard for both teams to find a rhythm in their offensive attack. Patagones and Dutta Corp had two-goal leads during the game.
It wasn’t until the final chukker when Patagones, leading 9-8, shut out Dutta Corp and got goals from Usandizaga and Wulff that it was able to put the game away.
“The first four chukkers we never got the chance to open the game,” Usandizaga said. “We changed our positions. I played back and Santiago tried to go with Piki. I think that was the key to start opening the game for us.
“It was a very physical game, there were too many fouls,” Usandizaga said. “In the first four chukkers every 20 seconds there was a foul. We finally got lucky with two or three goals.”
Alberdi was leading scorer for Dutta Corp with four goals. Carlitos Gracida had three goals and Mariano Gracida added one.
Patagones now past Limited Edition 12-Goal Series champions Casablanca, Northern Trust and Palm Beach Equine.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.