Defending champion Flexjet will go for their third consecutive title Tuesday, August 6, when they play Casablanca in the final of the United States Arena Handicap at Aspen Valley Polo Club in Carbondale, Colorado.
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) advanced with an impressive 18-11 victory over Audi (Kris Kampsen, Lucas Lalor, Marc Ganzi) in the opening semifinal game of the four-team tournament. In the second semifinal, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi*/Hilario Figueras, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan) rallied in the second half for a 14-12 win over McClure River Ranch (Daren Tamplin, Pablo Spinacci, Nacho Novillo Astrada). The final is set for 7:00pm ET and will be livestreamed by the USPA Polo Network on uspolo.org, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
In the first game, Astrada was the team’s high scorer, scoring eight total goals including a two-pointer in the fourth chukker. Flexjet began with a three-goal lead on handicap and pulled away from Audi to secure a 6-2 lead after the first chukker. Widening the gap, Flexjet outscored Audi in the third chukker to increase the substantial lead to 15-6. Audi outscored Flexjet in the final chukker, but ran out of time, Flexjet winning the first finalist position 18-11.
Audi’s Kris Kampsen on the ball.
“It was brutal,” Kampsen said. “We came out really flat in the first chukker and they came out firing. Once you get up by that many it’s really tough to get back in the game. They knew how to use the boards today and that really crippled us.”
In addition to Astrada’s eight goals, Ganzi and Bollini each added three goals. Kampsen led the scoring for Audi with six goals, including two two-pointers while Lalor and Marc Ganzi each scored two. “I’m excited to play the kids in the final,” Bollini said, referring to Ganzi and his son Juancito. “I think Nic [Roldan] is going to be tough for me but I like the challenge. Melissa, Alejandro and I are going to have to come up with a plan to play them. I would say we have a 50-50 chance.”
The second semifinal was closer, ending in only a two-goal difference. Casablanca, starting with a one-goal lead on handicap, jumped out to a 4-2 lead after the first chukker. Following back-to-back two-pointers by Astrada, McClure River Ranch outscored Casablanca 5-3 to tie at halftime 7-all.
The lead changed hands four times in the second half before Casablanca took the lead on consecutive goals by Ganzi and a two-pointer by Roldan. Sealing their spot in the final, Casablanca claimed victory over McClure River Ranch 14-12.
All photos ©Aspen Valley Polo Club
*Grant Ganzi 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.ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB