The Keleen & Carlton Beal Cup Final was a family affair featuring three members of the Beal family and two married couples going head-to-head on Friday, October 23. After close bracket play between the four 10-goal teams, BTA 1/Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Steve Krueger*, Nacho Badiola, Kelly Beal) faced off against BTA 2 in the highly-anticipated final at the Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas. Although the teams were tied at halftime, BTA 2 (Chrys Beal, KC Krueger, Mason Wroe*, Juan Martin Obregon) began to create distance on the scoreboard to ultimately engrave their names in history on the classic Roenisch bronze trophy with a final score of 11-10.
BTA 1/Tonkawa started with one goal on handicap, but BTA 2’s Obregon quickly evened the playing field with the only goal in the first chukker. Coming alive in the second chukker, BTA 1/Tonkawa established a lead with three teammates contributing to the scoreboard to counter Wroe’s Penalty 4. As BTA 1/Tonkawa entered the third up 4-2, BTA 2 mirrored the previous chukker with an offensive drive of their own. Scoring three goals between Wroe and Obregon, BTA 2 succeeded in equalizing the scoreboard 5-all at halftime.
BTA 1/Tonkawa’S Steve Krueger on the ball with his wife KC Krueger defending.
BTA 2 began to find their offensive rhythm in the fourth chukker, scoring three unanswered goals. Keeping the momentum going in the fifth, BTA 2 extended their lead 10-6 to start the sixth. BTA 1/Tonkawa’s Steve Krueger started to chip away at their opponent’s lead, scoring a quick goal to start the final chukker and bring his team within three. However, Wroe immediately answered back with a goal of his own to restore the gap. Steve Krueger and teammate Hildebrand weren’t ready to throw in the towel as both players converted penalty shots to bring their team within two. Steve Krueger found the goal for a third time, but the clock expired as the ball crossed the line, giving BTA 2 the narrow 11-10 win. Following the match, husband and wife Steve and KC Krueger, who played on opposite teams, went to parent teacher conferences.
BTA 2’s Mason Wroe turns the ball with teammate Juan Martin Obregon close behind.
Scoring six goals, BTA 2’s Mason Wroe was named Most Valuable Player. “The final was a rematch of the first game of the tournament where they got the best of us,” Wroe said. “Going into the final we knew we had to be disciplined with the man and make space for ourselves on offense. It was a very close match from start to finish, but our unselfish team play and hard work allowed us to build a bit of a cushion which we held onto.”
Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Ladilla, played by Juan Martin Obregon in the fourth chukker. “She came from Los Machitos breeding and I’ve had her since she was six. I always enjoy playing her, she is just one of those mares that is super solid. I hope that when I retire her I will be able to breed her.”
Best Playing Pony Ladilla, played by Juan Martin Obregon, pictured with Beal family members, Chrys and Kelly Beal, and KC Krueger, and grooms, Francisco Varela, Hugo Esquivel and Carlos Praiz.
All photos ©Kaylee Wroe.
*Steve Krueger and Mason Wroe are 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.