Story Courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club/Sharon Robb.
In one of the most remarkable comebacks in club history, Audi won the National Twenty Goal® undefeated on Wednesday, November 27, at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. Down 7-1 early in the third chukker, Audi (Sugar Erskine, Nic Roldan, Brandon Phillips) rallied in the second half for a hard-fought 11-10 victory over Sebucan (Santos Bollini, Jason Crowder, Kris Kampsen, Tommy Biddle).
On a gorgeous day in front of a large local crowd and USPA Polo Network viewers, Sebucan dominated Audi in the first two chukkers, establishing a strong 5-0 shut out. The 18-goal rated Sebucan picked up two goals on handicap to start off the game. Approaching the end of the second with 2:36 on the clock, Audi’s Phillips scored the first goal which was a 40-yard penalty conversion. The teams each scored a single goal in the second chukker with Sebucan still in the lead 6-1.
Audi regained their composure in the third chukker gaining a 3-1 advantage after two goals by Roldan and one by Phillips. Maintaining the lead, Sebucan held onto a three-goal advantage 7-4 at halftime. Audi scored four unanswered goals in the third chukker and early in the fourth before Sebucan was able to retaliate with a 40-yard penalty conversion by Kampsen.
Sebucan’s Santos Bollini attempts to hook Audi’s Nic Roldan.
Fighting to close the gap, Audi scored another three goals to Sebucan’s one in the fourth chukker and found themselves trailing by one. “We came out with a plan that didn’t work and they absolutely capitalized on it,” Roldan said. “We couldn’t get anything accomplished on the field, but then we changed it up and it helped. We decided to put Ganzi in the back and put Erskine in the front. That switch in the positions helped a lot and we started scoring goals.”
Audi scored another four unanswered goals in the fourth and fifth chukkers and for the first time equalized the scoreboard 8-all with 1:23 remaining in the fifth. Audi continued to control the momentum in the sixth chukker with Roldan’s back-to-back goals creating a 10-8 lead. Biddle’s 40-yard penalty conversion cut the lead to one with 4:35 left. A minute later, Kampsen converted a 60-yard penalty shot to tie the game 10-all with 3:03 on the clock.
Sebucan had an opportunity to convert a penalty, but Audi intercepted the ball just short of the goal. Roldan came back to score with 1:44 remaining despite a good defensive effort from Kampsen. Crowder won the next throw-in, but Erskine came up with a steal and a penalty against Sebucan ended the game.
Audi’s Marc Ganzi defends Kris Kampsen on the ball.
“We came out trying to play to win,” Kampsen said. “We had all the chances. I had a 60-yard penalty that was straight, but ankle-high and those guys ended up stopping it in the goal mouth. We fought them, but they ended up getting a foul out of us at the end.”
Pablo Pulido, who had family commitments, was substituted by 20-year-old Santos (Tato) Bollini in the lineup. “We were upset Pablo [Pulido] couldn’t be here, but I told him we were going to try to win it for him,” Kampsen said. “Tato [Bollini] did a great job coming in and not knowing the horses. He played amazing and did everything we asked of him. When you needed a run from him he gave it to us and put those guys on their backs. It was a huge help to us.”
“Audi is a great organization,” Roldan said. “I have been playing the fall season for a long time and this is by far the hardest season I’ve experienced. The teams have all been competitive, the fields are great and the weather was amazing. Everyone’s caliber of horses has improved incredibly so it’s been tough. It was a good win for the organization.”
Most Valuable Player Nic Roldan presented by Brenda Lynn of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.
Scoring six goals and sparking Audi’s comeback, Nic Roldan was named Most Valuable Player, winning his fifth tournament title.
Best Playing Pony Malapata Gemma, played by Marc Ganzi and owned by Halo Polo. Pictured with Dale Smicklas and Leonel Dolores.
Gemma, a 7-year-old mare, played by Ganzi in the sixth chukker was named Best Playing Pony. Gemma was bred by six-time Argentine Open winner Horatio Heguy and owned by Halo Polo/Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Photos courtesy of ©Grand Champions Polo Club.GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB