Team Spiculus (Mariano Obregon, Pelon Escapite and Sebastian Merlos) upset the favored Spartacus team (Jason Crowder, Felipe Viana and Tommy Biddle) Saturday night at $250,000 Gladiator Polo™ Final at the Equestrian Village of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) behind a one-two offensive punch that had Sebastian Merlos and Pelon Escapite combining for 17 goals. Although Mariano Obregon failed to score, his disciplined defense of Tommy Biddle held the arena 10-goaler to a season-low four goals over the course of the six chukker match.
“I could never find the ball,” said a frustrated Biddle after the match. “I had Mariano (Obregon) planted in my side and when I did find the ball two players collapsed on me before I could do anything.”
Biddle had been the focal point of the Spartacus attack throughout the series, scoring two-pointers from across the arena and sending the ball forward to teammates Felipe Viana and Jason Crowder, but Obregon put a damper on that Saturday night.
“I don’t think I ever touched the ball,” offered a smiling Obregon.
Spiculus blew open the game from the onset with a penalty conversion from Escapite and a two-pointer from Merlos for a 3-0 lead. Felipe Viana got Spartacus on the scoreboard with the final goal of the chukker, but trailed, 3-1.
Spartacus regrouped for second chukker action, holding Spiculus scoreless but were unable to generate much offense themselves. A two-point goal from Viana tied the game at 3-3, with the momentum of the match still in doubt.
The third period belonged to Spiculus, and it seemed as if every shot they took on goal, they scored. Merlos added two more two-point goals with Escapite scoring once from two-point territory and adding another goal for a commanding 10-5 lead. Viana provided the only offense for Spartacus who trailed by five goals at the end of the first half.
The Spiculus attack continued in fourth chukker play. Escapite added another two=pointer and two more goals from the field. Biddle finally got in the scoring column with a 15-yard penalty conversion and a goal from the field. After four chukkers of play, Spiculus dominated the game with a comfortable seven goal lead, 14-7.
There was no fifth chukker rally for Spartacus as an oppressive Spiculus defense shut them out. Merlos added two more goals as the Spiculus lead grew to an impressive nine goals, 16-7, with one period remaining in regulation play.
Viana and Merlos traded goas in sixth chukker play, with Spartacus picking up no ground on the dominating Spiculus trio. A two-pointer from Biddle closed out the scoring with Spiculus routing the formerly undefeated Spartacus, 17-10, and capturing the first Gladiator Polo Championship.
Merlos led the field in scoring with nine goals and earned MVP honors. Teammate Escapite added eight gals to the total while Obregon’s contribution to the victory was his ability to hold 10-goaler Tommy Biddle to just two goals over the course of the game. Viana’s six goals let the Spartacus offense with Biddle being limited to one goal from the field and one penalty goal.
Mark Bellissimo, the creator of the $250,000 Gladiator Polo series, was thrilled with the final and looks to make the event a regular in next season’s equestrian calendar.