Held over two consecutive crisp fall afternoons the National Sherman Memorial at Boston Polo Club in Georgetown, Massachusetts, came to its conclusion on Saturday, October 9, 2021. Boston Polo Club (Mark Tashjian, Justin Daniels*, Rehan Kumble) emerged from round-robin competition to face off against AVID (Federico Wulff, Ariadne Dogani, Kathleen Reagan), entering the finals after a decisive 17-8 semifinal victory against Babson 1. Facing each other for the first time in the tournament, AVID built an early lead culminating in a spectacular six-goal fourth chukker to capture the historic national arena title 16-10.
“I feel at home with the Boston Polo Club members and have strong friendships with many of them, which for me, makes polo a lifestyle and not just a sport.” – Ariadne Dogani
AVID was awarded one goal on handicap at the onset of the match, which Boston Polo Club’s Tashjian quickly made up for with two consecutive goals. Wulff added the first AVID field goal in the second on a two-pointer and teammate Dogani followed up with a goal of her own. Relaying AVID’s strategy, Wulff noted, “we decided to evaluate chukker-by-chukker the right method. During both games we noticed how rushed our opponents got after the first chukker and we [wanted to] slow down the speed and work on being more precise on passes.” Daniels contributed the only Boston Polo Club goal in the second to face a 3-6 deficit at halftime.
Boston Polo Club’s Justin Daniels prepares for a long shot down the arena.
AVID continued to apply pressure in the early stages of the third generating two more goals from Wulff, “we knew we were very well mounted and having teammates that know how to read the field makes it easier to decide how to play more zone and cover sections of the arena.” Kathleen Reagan, equine attorney and seasoned player had the benefit of playing with Wulff and Dogani throughout the summer season and used familiarity to her advantage, “[o]ur opponents in the final were collectively stronger with overall ratings, so had we played man to man we would have had a hard time. Instead, we had to resort to playing a zone defense that relied on quick reads of plays and players. I’m not the strongest hitter but I read plays fast, and I believe I did a pretty good job gumming up the works as [Boston Polo Club] drove up the arena; I took away the pass up the middle.”
AVID’s Federico Wulff backs the ball to goal.
Trailing 9-4, Boston Polo Club turned it on with back-to-back goals from Tashjian and Daniels. However, two goals from Dogani in the third maintained a significant gap. With only one chukker left in play, AVID’s duo of Wulff and Dogani took control of the final chukker, scoring six combined goals, including the second two pointer of the game from Wulff. Despite Boston Polo Club’s own competitive three-goal effort, AVID ran away with the 16-10 victory.
Most Valuable Player Ariadne Dogani skillfully taps the ball out of the air.
Established in 1935, the National Sherman Memorial is played in honor of George C. Sherman Sr., known as the “father of indoor polo.” Reagan took time from celebrating to reflect on the win, noting, “[p]olo has such a long and distinguished history, and I am so honored to be a tangible part of that history, just reviewing the teams of past years made me take pause and feel [gratitude] for Boston Polo, my teammates and the wonderful ponies!” “Winning the Sherman Memorial Cup is a culmination of hard, but fun work in the saddle,” shared an elated Dogani. “I feel we played exceptionally well as a team and stayed focused on our plan as the chukkers progressed and constantly adjusted to the counter attacks.”
“Polo has such a long and distinguished history, and I am so honored to be a tangible part of that history, just reviewing the teams of past years made me take pause and feel [gratitude] for Boston Polo, my teammates and the wonderful ponies!” – Kathleen Reagan
Best Playing Pony honors were presented to 13-year-old chestnut Quarter Horse mare Corona, played and owned by Mark Tashjian in the first and fourth chukkers. Scoring a total five goals in the final, Dogani was also named Most Valuable Player. “I feel it’s a recognition of my growth as a player and a reflection of the work of my awesome coaches and riding trainers,” Dogani shared. “It feels like the ultimate sign of belonging to the amazing global polo community.” Dogani, who joined Boston Polo Club in 2018 credits her rise in Intercollegiate/Interscholastic to Boston Polo Club’s owner (and consequently her opponent in the final) Mark Tashjian who, “made me a polo player and to whom I owe my passion for the sport.” Finishing her senior year at Dana Hall, Dogani looks brightly to the future, “[focusing] on a strong high school finish and college applications. I would like to take advantage of any school breaks I have to fly to Wellington [Florida, and play]. I also hope to play women’s outdoor!”
Best Playing Pony Corona, played and owned by Mark Tashjian. Pictured with Horacio Herran Marco and Juan Facundo Regueiro.
*Justin Daniels is an Active Team USPA Member. 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 courtesy of ©Anabella Dante.