The finale of the 2020 USPA Women’s Arena Handicap at Great Meadow Polo Club in The Plains, Virginia, concluded with an offensive masterclass from Rebellis (Kasey Morris, Maggie Cooper, Anna Winslow-Palacios*), scoring 19 goals to defeat Belle Vodka (Victoria McGraw, Danielle Quinn, Jessica Schmitt) and cap off a dominant showing to capture the USPA Women’s Arena Handicap title.
“The key to our success this weekend was playing selfless polo. Each player was willing to sacrifice themselves to create a scoring opportunity for the team. After taking a couple of chukkers to figure each other out in the semifinal, we were able to build on our strategy to come out with the win.” – Anna Winslow-Palacios
Rebellis’ Anna Winslow-Palacios prepares for a long shot down the arena, Belle Vodka’s Jessica Schmitt on defense.
A three-goal advantage on handicap in favor of Belle Vodka was quickly erased by the dynamic attack of Rebellis, fresh off a 16-goal showing in the semifinal against Mystique Jewelers. Winslow-Palacios opened the scoring with three consecutive goals for Rebellis on 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Kokopelli to even the scoreboard 3-all. Despite the slow start, Belle Vodka’s Schmitt scored her first goal of the game to end the early run, but Cooper quickly restored the tie 4-all at the end of the first chukker. With her teammates Morris and Cooper working tirelessly off the ball, Winslow-Palacios proved to be an offensive force, scoring five unanswered goals, brining her total to eight before the end of the opening half. Schmitt managed her second goal of the game, but Rebellis’ offense was relentless, finishing the half holding a 9-5 advantage.
Jumping on each loose ball, Rebellis carried their momentum into the third, relying on a balanced team effort to further increase their lead. Beginning with three goals from Winslow-Palacios, it was Morris and Cooper’s first goals of the match that concluded the chukker. Held off the scoreboard throughout the second half, Belle Vodka proved to be a step behind the electric offense of Rebellis, who completed their memorable performance with a second straight 5-0 chukker. Winslow-Palacios led all players with 15 goals, including four in the final chukker to seal the dominant 19-5 victory for Rebellis and raise the trophy.
“We came together so well as a team after our first couple chukkers during Friday’s semifinal,” Morris said. “Anna [Winslow-Palacios] was amazing to play with and she was so encouraging while giving great advice simultaneously. Maggie [Cooper] was our secret weapon and played far above her handicap. I don’t think we could have put together a better team!” Winslow-Palacios echoed her sentiments, “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play with both Maggie [Cooper] and Kasey [Morris] and couldn’t have asked for a better team!”
Most Valuable Player Mariah “Maggie” Cooper, presented by USPA Governor-at-Large Robin Sanchez.
Maggie Cooper was named Most Valuable Player. “I was thrilled for the chance to play with Kasey [Morris] and Anna [Winslow-Palacios] in this tournament,” Cooper said. “Despite not having played together before, I thought we really came together as a team today. Everyone was making smart plays, but also setting each other up well and using solid communication.”
Best Playing Pony went to Winslow-Palacios’ Barfly, a 12-year-old bay Thoroughbred mare played in the second chukker. Originally purchased from Spokane Polo Club’s (Spokane, Washington) Catlin Dix by Tom and Martha Gose, Barfly made her way into Winslow-Palacios’ string earlier this year. “ I had the opportunity to get to know Barfly when I worked for the Gose’s at Flying H Ranch Polo Club (Big Horn, Wyoming) in 2016,” Winslow-Palacios revealed. “Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about her ability to transition into arena polo, but she really came out and performed great this weekend. She has a ton of power, a huge bump, and a lot of handle for her size. I’m excited to see how she continues to progress!”
Best Playing Pony: Barfly, played and owned by Anna Winslow-Palacios and pictured with husband Liam Palacios.
“I want to thank Great Meadow Polo Club and the USPA for organizing such a wonderful event!” Maggie Cooper added.
*Anna Winslow-Palacios is a Team USPA alumni. 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.
All photos ©David Murrell.