An all-American team comprised of Team USPA members entered the $50,000 12 Goal tournament hosted by Grand Champions Polo Club (Wellington, Florida) for the fourth consecutive year. Team USPA has previously experienced success in the annual money tournament, making two semifinal appearances and taking home the title in 2016.
Wes Finlayson (4), Tony Calle (3), Lucas Arellano (2) and Nick Johnson (3) drew a bye for the first round, landing them in the semifinal match against a formidable La Dolfina team, Poroto Cambiaso (3), Segundo Merlos (2), Tato Merlos (0) and Juan Martin Zubia (7). Coach Julio Arellano knew the team would be challenged and felt that it was a good learning experience for the four players. Team USPA held La Dolfina in the first chukker, but fell behind as Zubia capitalized on the ball handling skills of Tato Merlos and Cambiaso. Though they were able to narrow the gap mid-game, La Dolfina maintained their momentum through the last bell to win 11-6. Coming off the field, Lucas Arellano commented on the pace of the game, “It is not very often we are able to play polo at this speed. It was a difficult game, but every little bit helps us improve.”
The match-up between La Dolfina and Team USPA highlights the ambitious attitude of young players coming up in the sport with the average age of the players on the field being only 19 years old.
La Dolfina went on to win the tournament against Beverly Equestrian, Bill Balhaus (0), Geronimo Obregon* (4), Tolito Fernandez Ocampo (5) and Hilario Figueras (3) 13-10.
*Geronimo Obregon 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.