An exciting two days of round-robin play, beginning on Friday, February 28, and ending Sunday, March 1, at Sarasota Polo Club in Sarasota, Florida, featured three exceptional teams. Ten Oaks remained undefeated with a 4-0 record to defeat San Saba (0-4) and Avalon Farm (2-2) and capture the Florida Circuit Women’s Challenge title.

Playing a round-robin format of two chukkers against each team with the scores carrying over to the second day, the opening game of the tournament between Avalon Farm (Meghan Shader, Margaux Buchanan, Kylie Sheehan, Alyson Poor) and San Saba (Dawn Jones, Kendall Plank, Taylor Scilufo, Clarissa Echezarreta) saw Avalon Farm quickly extend the 0.5 goal lead they received on handicap. Consecutive field goals from Shader and Poor gave Avalon Farm a commanding two-and-a-half goal lead toward the end of the first chukker. Jones scored San Saba’s first field goal and a defensive battle ensued throughout the remainder of the opening game. Both teams suffering a missed penalty attempts, the second chukker ended scoreless, awarding Avalon Farm their first win 2.5-1.

“Izzy [Parsons] and Paige [Boone] both made sure Kelly [Beck] and I understood our jobs and what to do in certain situations. Kelly was always in front of her man if she was following me, which was a game changer. Our positions were always changing, but I think we did a good job adjusting when needed. We also adjusted horses on Sunday which helped us to come out on fire.”  – Eliza Jacobellis

The second match of the opening day featured the debut of Ten Oaks (Kelly Beck, Eliza Jacobellis, Isabelle “Izzy” Parsons, Paige Boone), who produced a strong showing against San Saba. A stop-and-start pace due to fouls gave each team an opportunity to take the lead, but it was Ten Oaks’ Beck that ultimately converted a Penalty 3 to start the scoring. Countering for San Saba, a goal from Plank provided a swift response before the end of the first chukker, leaving a tie 1-1. The remainder of the game displayed an impressive offensive attack by Ten Oaks. Claiming three unanswered goals, including two off the mallet of Boone, to give Ten Oaks the 4-1 victory.

Ten Oaks' Paige Boone with a beautiful backshot in front of a sold out crowd, San Saba's Kendall Plank close behind.

Ten Oaks’ Paige Boone with a beautiful backshot in front of a sold out crowd, San Saba’s Kendall Plank close behind.

The final two-chukker game of the day saw Ten Oaks carry the momentum from their strong finish into the start of their game against Avalon Farm. Scoring two quick goals, Ten Oaks launched what proved to be a balanced team attack. Parsons and Jacobellis found the goal to put all four Ten Oaks players on the scoreboard, giving Ten Oaks the 2-0.5 lead with one more chukker remaining. The clean game produced an exciting finish with Avalon Farm claiming the lead after goals from Sheehan and Shader resulted in a narrow 0.5 goal lead. In the final minutes of play, Parsons delivered for Ten Oaks, scoring the final goal to claim victory and remain undefeated 3-2.5.

“I think we played well as a team,” Parsons said of Ten Oaks. “Everyone did their job and it allowed Paige [Boone] to come through with the ball on a number of occasions to score. It was a really fun team to play with and a great tournament.”

All three teams still had a chance to claim the tournament title on Sunday, with Avalon Farm and San Saba both needing a win in the opening game. Holding a 2.5-1 lead, Avalon Farm took advantage of early foul trouble from San Saba, receiving a Penalty 2 and field goal from Sheehan, resulting in a significant lead 4.5-1. Jones tried to position San Saba within reach, but Avalon Farm effectively maintained the lead to seal the 4.5-2 victory.

MVP Paige Boone

Most Valuable Player Paige Boone. Presented by Dr. Michelle Pennie and Allison Imre.

Attention turned to the second match of the day with Ten Oaks striving to continue their undefeated run. A missed penalty attempt from San Saba opened the door for Boone to extend Ten Oaks lead further, scoring back-to-back field goals in the opening chukker. Combined with their impressive 4-1 win from the first day, Ten Oaks held a nearly insurmountable 6-1 lead entering the final chukker and behind a strong attack and organized defense, Ten Oaks captured the 7-2 victory.

Holding just a 0.5 goal lead, Ten Oaks faced a tough Avalon team in the final match of the tournament with the victor capturing the Florida Circuit Women’s Challenge title. In arguably the most impressive chukker of the tournament, Ten Oaks overwhelmed Avalon Farms across the field with a dynamic attack that was led by Boone. Coming forward from behind, Boone scored three goals and Parson added another in the chukker, while simultaneously keeping Avalon Farm off the scoreboard and increasing their advantage to 4.5 goals 7-2.5. Capping off a strong tournament, Boone’s eighth goal of the tournament sealed the 9-3.5 victory for Ten Oaks and the tournament title.

BPP Viru

Best Playing Pony Viru, played by Paige Boone. Pictured with Marcelo Torres, Dr. Michelle Pennie and Allison Imre.

Ten Oaks’ Paige Boone was named the Most Valuable Player. “Our team had never played together, but we were able to get a practice in last week which helped us tremendously,” Boone said. “We were all very excited to play together for the first time and we seemed to communicate well on the field. Izzy [Parsons] and I have played against each other before so I was familiar with her style of play. It was so much fun playing together and there was definitely great chemistry on the field.”

Viru, a 12-year-old Argentine mare Boone played in the first chukker, received Best Playing Pony honors. “She’s incredibly handy with explosive power,” Boone said. “She definitely gives me confidence when I play her.”

Photos courtesy of ©Julio Aguilar

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