The last semifinal slot taunted Sol de Agosto as the Sunday, August 26, 3:00pm game began at the sunny Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California. The De Narvaez father-and-son duo knew they had to win against opponent Klentner Ranch to advance out of Silver Air Pacific Coast Open bracket play.
Klentner Ranch jumped off the starting block with speed and set the tone for the game. Mariano Obregon put the first mark on the board for his team from the penalty line and quickly added a second from the field in the first chukker.
Nico Escobar showcased his prowess at the front of the field and led scoring for Sol de Agosto, making five goals throughout the first half for the team wearing rasta colors. Klentner Ranch held the advantage over Sol de Agosto through the fifth chukker with Jesse Bray* and Obregon flying through the goal five times, bringing their total to seven goals after four chukkers of play.
The tide turned towards the red, yellow and green in the fifth. Escobar credits their second half push with rearranging their lineup, “I moved more towards the middle of the field and we changed our set plays to open the field up more for Adam [Snow]. That and a lot of luck!”
Teammate Adam Snow found himself with more time in the second half but still felt the pressure from the opponent. “It was still anyone’s game. They are a tough team!” Snow said. “But I am happy we found a way to scrape through to the next round.”
Klentner Ranch fought to add to their total, but were unable to score in the final two chukkers of play, opening the door for Sol de Agosto to tie the match in the sixth on a goal by Paco de Narvaez. The overtime chukker was short and sweet, with the final goal being scored by Paco De Narvaez on a 60-yard penalty shot.
With the win in his back pocket, Francisco de Narvaez raced to the sidelines to hug his daughter waiting anxiously to congratulate him. For the De Narvaez family, the summer high-goal season is a family affair and a chance to play in the Pacific Coast Open semifinal gave the team a burst of motivation. Paco De Narvaez explained, “It was our last shot to get into the next round. We really fought hard in the second half to win.”
Earlier in the day, Farmers & Merchants Bank (FMB) lost their captain Lucas Criado to a hand injury in the fifth chukker and replaced Nachi Viana and Criado with Juan Monteverde and Santi Trotz. With FMB down by one goal Lucchese took advantage of the team change and pushed through the sixth chukker, scoring four times – two by Toly Ulloa and one each by Jeff Hall and Facundo Obregon. Lucchese secured their spot in the semifinal with a score of 13-11 over FMB.
A penalty shootout took place following the last match of the day to determine the semifinal pairings. Lucchese will face Restoration Hardware at 5:00pm ET and Klentner Ranch will meet Sol de Agosto at 7:00pm ET on Thursday, August 30. The USPA Polo Network will livestream both semifinal games.
*Jesse Bray is a member of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos ©David Lominska.