The thrilling final between Skaneateles and ML Bar Ranch for the Heritage Cypress Cup at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida, spanned over the course of two days after rain and thunder postponed the final chukker. Playing through the fifth on Tuesday, April 2, the game was completed on Wednesday, April 3, with Skaneateles claiming the exciting 11-10 overtime victory over ML Bar Ranch.
A back and forth match between ML Bar Ranch (Cesar Rangel (1), Jason Crowder (6), Cody Ellis (3), Drew Luplow(1)) and Skaneateles (Marty Cregg (0), Costi Caset* (5), Mariano Obregon (6), Cesar Jimenez (1)) resulted in a possession advantage for Skaneateles. However, missing opportunities from both the field and the penalty line, Skaneateles allowed ML Bar Ranch to fight for the lead up until the final whistle, pushing the game into overtime. Receiving a goal on handicap to start off the game, ML Bar Ranch was locked goal for goal with their opponent in the first half, Skaneateles a relentless offensive machine which quickly regained possession to drive their attack downfield. Scoring two field goals in the first, Caset enabled Skaneateles to hold onto an early 3-1 lead, carrying the momentum into the remainder of the first half and constantly placing the ML Bar Ranch defense in a vulnerable position. Committing eight fouls, ML Bar Ranch was fortunate to concede just one penalty goal, Skaneateles unable to convert four of their five penalty attempts in the opening half. Each side adding a single goal in the third, the half ended with the scoreboard tied 5-all.
Returning with renewed force in the second half, ML Bar Ranch’s charge changed the game in their favor, scoring three consecutive goals in the fourth to take their first two-goal lead 8-6. Opening the fifth chukker with a throw-in right in front of goal, Caset jumped on a loose ball, sending it between the posts to quickly bring the deficit within one. Missing the mark for the fifth time from the penalty line, Skaneateles saw the resulting knock-in carried all the way downfield and finished by Ellis, restoring ML Bar Ranch’s two goal lead. Rain and thunder descending upon Port Mayaca Polo Club, the final chukker was postponed to Wednesday, April 3, with ML Bar Ranch eager to maintain their lead until the end.
When play resumed, a quick goal from Rangel extended the gap, seemingly ending Skaneateles hopes of a comeback with only a few minutes remaining in regulation play. Unwilling to give up, Skaneateles fought their way back into the game, Obregon converting a Penalty 3 and 4 to tie the game 10-all, sending the electrifying final into overtime. Both teams tightened their defense in overtime, with neither side able to find the goal in the first five minutes. Skaneateles working the ball downfield, Jimenez received the pass and completed the breakaway to claim the narrow victory 11-10.
Scoring 6 of ML Bar Ranch’s ten total goals, Cody Ellis was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Ellis’ Muscle Milk.
*Costi Caset 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.