The third money game of the 2019 season culminated in the Pacific Coast Circuit Arena Women’s Challenge Final on Tuesday, November 10, at Central Coast Polo Club in Los Osos, California. Four teams entered the tournament with many women players returning for the fun competition and free swag. Edging their way into the final, KWH Equestrian came back in the second half to defeat Cal Poly 10-7, earning both the championship title and $2,000 in prize money.
“I was very impressed by how the college and high school age players held their own against the more seasoned players and by how many of them brought their own horses,” Melanja Jones said. “Taylor Olcott who was flying around the arena on her string of chestnut geldings was especially strong and she really made a difference for her team.”
The team from Poway Polo Club boasted all interscholastic and intercollegiate players. Due to one player being unable to participate, Emily Andre joined the team and helped immensely having prepared at Mustang Madness the month prior playing with the same horses in the same arena. Cerro Pampa Polo Club home team, KHW Equestrian, returned with Simone Harper and was joined this year by Rebecca Clark and Taylor Olcott. The Cal Poly team was a mix of alumnus, Maggie Papka, and three current players, Rose Brownridge, Sydney Weise and Claire English splitting a spot. Central Coast brought a partial home team with Petra Teixeira, Melanja Jones (subbing for Megan Judge) and rising interscholastic player Jasmine Lu from Poway. Umpire John Westley came from Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California, to umpire the tournament. The competition started early with bracket play on Saturday with each team playing two two-chukker games. The best record would move forward to Sunday.
The tournament began with Central Coast playing against Poway. Poway was awarded one-and-a-half goals on handicap because the team came in at six goals. Starting out strong in the first game, Megan Judge, Jasmine Lu and Petra Teixeira accounted for 11 goals to earn the win and move forward to the semifinals. Poway would move on to play in the 1:00pm game for a second chance against the losing team of the next match. The next match was hotly contested as KWH Equestrian came out strong and ended the first in the lead 4-1. Even with Cal Poly scoring two unanswered goals, KWH Equestrian was victorious 4-3.
KWH Equestrian’s Taylor Olcott is pursued on a run by Poway’s Sydney Morris. ©Molly V. Morris/www.essencecaptured.com
In the noon matchup Cal Poly took on Central Coast. At the end of the first chukker the scoreboard was tied a goal apiece and in the second Central Coast led 3-1 with 3:30 remaining. A player substitution for injury brought in substitute Janelle Ross and Cal Poly gained a narrow advantage over Central Coast 4-3. Since both teams had a 1-1 record, the finalist was decided in a penalty shootout. Cal Poly ultimately won the shootout and qualified for the final. Excellent teamwork and handy horses made the difference for Jones, Teixeira and Lu.
In the final match of the day KWH Equestrian challenged Poway. With some strong goals from Poway’s Emily Andre, Sydney Morris and Franchesca Johannsen and some equally strong goals from Clark, Olcott and Simone Harper the final score was 13-4.5 in favor of KWH Equestrian.
The final was hard-fought, Cal Poly coming out strong in the first chukker with three impressive field goals. Each side adding a goal each to their tally in the second, Cal Poly maintained a narrow advantage 4-3 headed into halftime. Turning the game around in the second half, KWH Equestrian scored four goals to Cal Poly’s two in the fourth to take the lead for the first time. Determined to carry the lead until the final whistle, KWH Equestrian picked up three additional goals to solidify the win 10-7. They also took home $2000 in tournament prize money.
The KWH Equestrian team was well mounted by South Bay Polo ponies and also Taylor Olcott on her chestnut geldings Rubio, Indio, and Best Playing Pony Trompo. Rebecca Clark from KWH Equestrian was named Most Valuable Player and the Sportsmanship Award was presented to Jasmine Lu.
“Congratulations to all of the teams and thank you to Rebecca Clark, Taylor Olcott and Simone Harper for their exceptional playing and sportsmanship!” Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff, founder of KWH Equestrian, said. “Also thank you to Megan Judge for another incredible opportunity for women polo players to showcase their athleticism and passion for the sport!”