Over two weeks of competitive play, the Pacific Coast Circuit Intra-Circuit Cup concluded on Sunday, June 20, at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California). Klentner Ranch (Jacob “Jake” Klentner*, Patrick Uretz*, Jesse Bray*, Justin Klentner) and Bensoleimani.com (Ben Soleimani, Bayne Bossom*, Remy Du Celliee Muller*, Iñaki Laprida) met in the final 12-goal game of the season. After losing their opening game, Klentner Ranch secured a spot in the final by going undefeated for the remainder of the tournament. Bensoleimani.com faced a halftime deficit in their semifinal against Antelope until they summoned superhero powers, switching to Incredible Hulk inspired jerseys to match Ben Soleimaini’s 3-year-old son, and powered ahead to capture the 12-10 victory and a spot in the final. Returning in the final with the fan-favorite Hulk jerseys, Bensoleimani.com ran into the unstoppable force that was Klentner Ranch, who led from start to finish to claim the title 9-7.
Klentner Ranch’s Jake Klentner and Bensoleimani.com’s Bayne Bossom battle for possession.
The opening two chukkers featured a relentless Klentner Ranch attack which kept Bensoleimani.com pinned in their defensive half. Producing 13 of the first 14 shots of the game, Klentner Ranch gave Bensoleimani.com little opportunity to score, building a 3-0 lead in the first chukker with goals from the duo of Bray and Uretz. Continuing to keep their foot on the gas, Klentner Ranch exploded for a five-goal second chukker, led by Bray who added three goals and an assist to give Klentner Ranch a commanding 8-0 advantage. “This was our fourth time playing Bensoleimani.com over the course of the season so we know each other well and felt there wouldn’t be too many surprises,” Bray revealed. “We controlled the majority of the throw-ins in the first two chukkers which helped us create a big lead to start the game. After that we just tried to play smart polo without fouling too often.” Facing a steep deficit, Bensoleimani.com reorganized and began to chip away at the lead by first slowing the Klentner Ranch attack and holding them scoreless in the third chukker. A Penalty 2 conversion for Laprida gave Bensoleimani.com their first goal of the game and it was quickly followed by back-to-back field goals from Muller, entering halftime 8-3 in favor of Klentner Ranch.
Klentner Ranch’s Patrick Uretz approaching the ball under pressure from Bensoleimani.com’s Iñaki Laprida.
The lightning quick attack of Klentner Ranch that was seen throughout the first two chukkers was contained by a revitalized Bensoleimani.com that had their sights on launching another comeback. Klentner Ranch was held off the scoreboard for three consecutive chukkers, allowing Bensoleimani.com to chip away at the lead. Muller’s third goal provided the only score in the fourth chukker, but the excitement rose around the U.S. Polo Assn. Field when Soleimani and Laprida completed a run of six consecutive goals, leaving the score 8-6 with one chukker remaining. Battling to sustain their lead throughout the sixth, Klentner Ranch extended it to three with a Penalty 3 conversion by Uretz. Despite a quick response from Bossom to restore the two-goal difference, Bensoleimani.com ran out of time to complete their comeback as Klentner Ranch held on for the 9-7 victory.
Klentner Ranch’s Patrick Uretz, celebrating the victory, was named Most Valuable Player.
“I think our team chemistry was our biggest advantage,” Uretz said. “Bensoleimani.com played a great second half and it took everything we had to hold them off in the end. We stuck to our game plan and tried to stay as organized as possible even though things weren’t going our way towards the end.”
After not playing with his dad for a couple years, Jake Klentner felt the win was all the more special on Father’s Day. “Being able to reunite and win together on Father’s Day is amazing!” Jake Klentner shared. “This is the first time I’ve won this tournament and it honestly felt almost as good as winning the Pacific Coast Open, because I got to do it with my dad instead of substituting for him in 2018.” “The Pacific Coast Circuit Intra-Circuit Cup is a very difficult tournament to win, but playing with my son and raising the trophy on Father’s Day was incredible,” Justin Klentner added.
Klentner Ranch’s Jesse Bray preparing a swing, also won the Pacific Coast Circuit Intra-Circuit Cup with Klentner Ranch in 2018.
Scoring four goals for Klentner Ranch, Patrick Uretz was named Most Valuable Player. “This win means a lot to me and everyone in the Klentner Ranch organization,” Uretz said. “We’ve been playing the 12-goal in Santa Barbara for the last three years and reached a lot of finals, but this was our first trophy. To win on Father’s Day with my dad and brothers all watching was very special. Also, to have father-son duo Justin and Jake [Klentner] on our team made it extra special.”
In addition to having familiarity between teammates on their side, Klentner Ranch benefitted from added horsepower. “Justin [Klentner] gave Patrick [Uretz] and Jake [Klentner] an extra horse from his string for this tournament and I think that made a big difference for them,” Bray mentioned. “It was the push we needed to finish strong.”
Best Playing Pony, Mystery, played by Remy Du Celliee Muller and owned by Ben Soleimani. Presented by Pacific Coast Circuit Governor Danny Walker and pictured with Segundo Aliani and Federico Moscoso.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Ben Soleimani’s 10-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred Mystery, played by Remy Du Celliee Muller in the fifth chukker and as a spare in the sixth chukker. “She is really smooth, has great lateral movement and she is really easy to hit the ball off of,” said Muller. “She also has an amazing mouth and she’s quick and very low to the ground – she’s a complete horse.”
Gearing up for the upcoming 16-goal season with 8-goaler Santiago Toccalino in place of Patrick Uretz, Klentner Ranch is capping off the 12-goal at the top of their game focusing their efforts on carrying that momentum into the opening tournament. “Everything we do is to prepare ourselves the best we can for the 16-goal season,” Bray said. “It’s very competitive every year so we have to be as prepared as we can be and I’m really looking forward to it!”
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.
*Bayne Bossom is an Active Team USPA member. Jesse Bray is a Graduating Team USPA Member. Jacob Klentner, Patrick Uretz and Remy Du Celliee Muller 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.