Sterling Cup

Tonkawa, Valiente Remain Undefeated  On Day Three Of Sterling Cup; Tournament Resumes Friday

Tonkawa and Valiente remained undefeated with impressive wins on Day Three of the Sterling Cup Tuesday at Grand Champions Polo Club and Valiente.
By Sharon Robb
Tonkawa (Matt Coppola, 4, Cody Ellis, 3, Sapo Caset, 10, Sterling Giannico, 3) led from start-to-finish to hand defending champion Travieso (Teo Calle, 1, Tony Calle, 3, Sebastian Merlos, 9, Tomas Garcia del Rio, 7) its first loss of the tournament.
Tonkawa led 7-2 at halftime, outscoring Travieso, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, in the first three chukkers. After Travieso tried to claw its way back into the game 2-1 and 2-0 in the fourth and fifth chukkers, Tonkawa came back with a 4-2 sixth chukker.
Father and son Teo and Tony Calle of Travieso working together.
“Today we started better than the other day,” Caset said. “Travieso is always a tough team, they play well. I think we dominated the whole game and the team played well. We are getting to know each other more and more. We are getting more comfortable.”
Tonkawa kept the game open, hitting and running with long passes. Ellis and Coppola played together in Texas, adding to the chemistry of the team.
“This team is awesome, to play with Sapo and win our second game, just awesome,” said Cody Ellis. “For us three young guys to have the opportunity to play with a guy like him has been unbelievable.
Tony Calle of Travieso double teamed by Tonkawa’s Cody Ellis and Sterling Giannico of Tonkawa.
“Everyone is super fun to play with,” Ellis said. “I think we are just going to get better and better. We are figuring each other out and what Sapo wants us to do and where to go, what plays to make and what plays not to make.
“For us it’s been a great learning experience,” Ellis said. “There’s not really many other teams that have three young pros and a 10-goaler, who you can go and learn from the guy. We have been given a great opportunity.”
With every win, the team’s confidence is improving, the players agreed.
Sapo Caset of Tonkawa stretches for the ball in front of Sebastian Merlos of Travieso.
“It builds our confidence in ourselves and in each other,” Ellis said. “I think moreso in each other. Sapo, Sterling and I have been playing practices together but that’s about it. In a game situation it’s a little different. I think we are getting a little rhythm and figuring out what everyone does and how they do it. We can only get better. Travieso was a tough team so I think it just shows if we play as a team, we can do pretty good in this tournament.”
Caset scored a game-high seven goals. Giannico and Coppola each had two goals. The team was also awarded a penalty-one. Del Rio led Travieso with five goals and Merlos had three.
“Tonkawa was a very tough team, they are good players, well-mounted and played better than us,” team sponsor Teo Calle said.
Playing one Cambiaso is challenge enough, but two Cambiasos and unlimited string of horses, forget about it.
Piki Alberdi of Dutta Corp and Bautista Panelo of Valiente battle for the ball in flight.
Valiente (Poroto Cambiaso, 1, Bautista Panelo, 4, Juan Britos, 5, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, 1, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Piki Alberdi, 7, Matias Magrini, 7).
Valiente never let Dutta Corp in the game leading 4-0, 5-1, 8-1 at the half, 9-2 and 9-4.
Poroto Cambiaso of Valiente stretches for the ball in front of two defenders and his dad Adolfo.
Britos led Valiente with four goals including three penalty conversions. Poroto Cambiaso scored three goals and Adolfo Cambiaso and Bautista Panelo each had two goals.
Magrini led Dutta Corp with three goals. Dutta and Alberdi father and son each had one goal.
Juan Britos of Valiente reaches for the ball with Piki Alberdi of Dutta Corp defending.
The game marked the return of former 10-goaler Piki Alberdi, coming off a broken foot suffered in Colombia
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Salvador Lockey, 2, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) always had the lead but U.S. Polo Assn. (Juan Bollini, 5, Grant Ganzi, 2, Jesse Bray, 5, Mike Azzaro, 6) kept it close.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet hits the ball out of the air with Juan Bollini defending.
Ganzi, the only woman competing in the tournament, scored a game-high five goals to lead Flexjet. Andrade had two and Novillo Astrada added one goal.
Salvador Lockey of Flexjet attempts to hook Mike Azzaro of U.S. Polo Assn.
Grant Ganzi, playing against his mother, led U.S. Polo Assn. with three goals. Azzaro and Bollini each had one goal. The team received one goal on handicap.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Henry Porter, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Nico Pieres, 8) shut out SD Farm (Sanyu Dantata, 2, Costi Caset, 5, Inaki Laprida, 7, Peco Polledo, 6) in the third and sixth chukkers and ran away with the game.
Audi led 8-2 at the half and never let SD Farm in the game. Porter was making his 20-goal debut with Audi as a substitute. Ganzi and Roldan shared score-leading honors with four each. Porter added three goals and Pieres had one. Laprida led SD Farm with four goals. Polledo and Dantata each had two goals and Caset added one.
Nic Roldan of Audi is double teamed by Inaki Laprida and Peco Polledo of SD Farms.
The tournament resumes on Friday with two games. SD Farm plays Valiente at 10 a.m. and Audi faces Dutta Corp at 4 p.m.
The Sterling Cup is one of two historical tournaments that the nation’s busiest and most innovative polo club resurrected last year after a 22-year absence.
Travieso is defending Sterling Cup champion. In one of the most exciting games in Grand Champions history, Travieso staged an incredible comeback to win the Cup. Travieso (Tony Calle, Torito Ruiz, Sebastian Merlos, Hugo Barabucci) rallied from a 6-2 halftime deficit for a thrilling 13-8 victory over Casablanca (Harrison Azzaro, Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade).
Inaki Laprida of SD Farms tries to hook Henry Porter of Audi working the ball out of the air.
It was Travieso’s first 20-goal tournament victory of the 2017 winter season and second in team history since the team’s debut in 2015 at Grand Champions, where it was the winningest team in low and medium goal polo before stepping up to high goal. Travieso also won the 2015 USPA North American 20-Goal Cup and 2017 20-Goal Molina Cup and went on to make its debut at the 2017 U.S. Open.
The Sterling Cup was resurrected by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo’s glory days.
The Sterling Cup was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at Palm Beach Polo after the January Challenge Cup and last played in 1995. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as eighteen teams.
Marc Ganzi of Audi has four legs up on defender Inaki Laprida of SD Farms. Photos by Chiarofoto
It was first played in 1989 with Saniva B.G.K. winning the title. Other past winners include Pegasus, C.S. Brook, Grant’s Farm Manor, Revlon, Calumet Farm, Pony Express, Palm Beach Polo, Isla Carroll and White Birch.


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