By: Liz Leamy
Last Tuesday was certainly a day to remember as White Birch, the illustrious Greenwich Polo Club high-goal team known for its grit, gold charisma and gold standard triumphantly clinched the 2020 East Coast Open title in remarkable style, claiming a 13-10 win over Black Hound DE, the Teflon-tough squad based out of the New York City-metropolitan area.
This edge-of-your-seat match, held on the main field of the Greenwich Polo Club, host of this year’s East Coast Open, was an affair to remember in every regard as the two qualifying final teams (of five total entries) in this celebrated and historic Championship tournament, White Birch and Black Hound DE, featured rosters listing some of the sport’s most decorated athletes.
This illustrious group included some of high-goal polo’s up-and-coming stars and some of its globally renowned masters, along with a host of other highly reputed and tactical players and their charges who all went head to head against one another in hopes of clinching the East Coast Open title, a feat comparable that of winning the NHL Stanley Cup Championship.
This extraordinary faceoff featured the likes of such heavy hitters as Mariano Aguerre the celebrated international eight goaler and number three player for White Birch who has thrilled crowds at the GPC over the years; Matias Magrini, the stealth Argentinian seven goaler and Black Hound DE number four player who has been a top GPC marquis player for many seasons; and Toro Ruiz of Black Hound DE, the electric Argentinian seven goaler reputed to be one of the sport’s hottest rising stars, among others.
Collectively, this faction and their colleagues threw down the proverbial hammer, indicating why they had reached this point of competition and also why they have come to be known as renowned world-class polo contenders.
“Today’s match was amazing and it was definitely a game to remember. There were no opportunities for any errors out there and these teams were both just incredible,” said Ellie Briana Molyneux, a proprietor of Vakiano, the prominent Argentine craft providers and cultivators who is also an accomplished and dedicated polo player based out of the New York City-metropolitan area. “The intensity between these two teams was there all the way through to the fifth chukker and then White Birch pulled away.”
In the end, Aguerre, the celebrated GPC star and high goal luminary delivered the golden goods, helping White Birch catapult to the top of the East Coast Open leaderboard by scoring several game-winning goals during the last few chukkers.
Throughout the match, Aguerre, whose last name when translated means ‘war,’ turned on his famous star fire, as he flew around the massive Conyers Farm field on his stealth ponies at astonishing speeds, maneuvering and hitting the ball with great ease, skill and command.
For these valiant efforts, Aguerre was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award citation of the match, while his gorgeous charge, Machitos Francisca, was honored for her work, as she was named the Best Playing Pony.
For Aguerre, it was all about getting the job done and doing the thing he loves to do more than anything, which is playing polo.
“It was one of those days we needed to shine. We were up against one of the best teams and went all in,” said Aguerre. “Both teams performed out there today and it was a tough and good game.”
Meanwhile, it was Aguerre’s emotional reaction at the conclusion of the match that rendered one of the most powerful and poignant moments of the day. As Aguerre rode his pony off the field, he let out a long warrior-like cry of joy of which his family, friends, teammates and others that were on hand responded to with thunderous applause and loud cheers.
Certainly, Aguerre’s star power has been much appreciated by the many thousands of people who have had the privilege to see him play at the GPC over the years, as well as those who have had other levels of interaction with him through the sport of polo.
“Mariano is a fantastic athlete and embodies everything a true athlete is all about,” said Frank Boccanfuso, whose esteemed high-goal polo team, Phoenix, was part of the GPC roster for several years and whose son had spent some time practicing polo with Aguerre at one point. “He is at a level above even being a great polo player and does a lot more than hit the ball. He does all the things many might not know or necessarily see. He is an incredible strategist who sets up the game for others so they have the opportunity to win, scores when he needs to and always delivers when it’s go time.”
Aguerre, along with the entire White Birch contingent, remarked on the strength and toughness of their opponent, Black Hound DE, in this final, saying their playing made for a challenging and intense game.
“It was a tough game. [Black Hound DE] was really good and we had to do our job,” said Peke Gonzalez, White Birch number four player and Argentinean six goaler who, like Aguerre, played as if he were on fire during this match. (Gonzalez’s father, Mariano, a prominent high goaler, has also been a popular marquis player at the GPC for many years.)
According to all the members of White Birch, headed by Christopher Brant, its ultra-focused patron (who scored some memorable points during this match), a key component for them going into this event was the intense preparation and training routine they had undergone so they would be in optimal condition here.
“We worked hard to get ready for this tournament,” said Pablo Llorente, the agile and lightning-quick Argentinean six goaler who played a paramount role in White Birch’s successful run throughout this championship. “We did our job as best as we could and it was great to be out there playing.”
Black Hound DE certainly showed their superior skills in this faceoff, which only makes sense considering its star-studded roster features Magrini and Ruiz, along with Lucas Diaz Alberdi, the powerful Argentinean six-goaler and Will Tomita, its ever-solid patron, who soared around the field at top speeds knocking in goals with warrior-like focus and fierceness.
Ultimately, the success of this year’s East Coast Open final and entire championship series was largely due to its gold-standard host, the Greenwich Polo Club, who, like all of the players and ponies as well as all of their colleagues and cohorts participating in this event, knocked the ball out of the park in magnificent fashion.
“This is such a special place because it showcases a combination of a high-end distinctive sport at a high-end sports venue that features elite players and exquisite equine athletes that make for a unique and fantastic experience,” said Molyneux.
Based upon the visible smiles, spirits and infectious energy seen and felt among all of those on hand at this one-of-a-kind locale all throughout this year’s East Coast Open tournament, truer words certainly could not have been spoken.
To obtain information on the last match of the 2020 season that will played at the GPC on Sunday, September 20th , please contact the GPC at:
People-Tag: Ellie Briana Molyneux, Frank Boccanfuso, John Ferris Robben, Liz Leamy, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Machitos Francisca, Mariano Aguerre, Matias Magrini, Pablo Llorente, Peke Gonzalez, Toro Ruiz, White Birch, Will Tomita