By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON — GCPC-USA kept its winning streak alive on the 10th anniversary of the International Cup Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The team of Grant Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan and Tommy Biddle defeated Argentina (Pablo Spinacci, Tomas Dartiguelongue, Facha Valent, Santi Toccalino), 10-5, for its 10th win in a row since the tournament’s inception in 2012.
Ganzi, making his sixth appearance and at 23, the youngest member of the U.S. lineup, was named Most Valuable Player.
Playing one of his best games of the season despite a sprained ankle sustained in a holiday football game, Ganzi scored a game-high five goals and played well defensively.
“I take a lot of pride in playing for my country and pride of being an American,” said Ganzi, a senior at Lynn University. “Today was a special feeling getting on the field with really good Americans playing really good polo in good weather and on good fields.
“Any one on the team deserved MVP. Everyone played great. I was really fortunate a few of the balls hit the post and I got a little lucky being in the right place at the right time.”
Ganzi, a third generation polo player, got a rare opportunity to compete in front of his grandfather, Wally, parents Marc and Melissa, who he is usually playing with or against, and girlfriend Libby and her parents.
“It was special, I was really happy my grandfather got to watch,” Ganzi said. “They definitely gave me motivation. My grandfather hasn’t watched me play in a long time. I really wanted to make him proud.”
Biddle and Crowder were making their International Cup debut. GCPC-USA has now defeated Argentina twice, England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Azerbaijan and France in International Cup play.
In a fast-paced game, Argentina dominated the opening chukker leading 1-0 and 2-1. GCPC-USA took control in the second chukker. With 3:34 left, Biddle connected with Roldan who scored and tied the game at 2-2. A minute later, Ganzi converted a 30-yard penalty to take the lead, 3-2. GCPC-USA never trailed after that, building a 7-2 halftime lead.
“I was a little worried because they never lost,” said Biddle, a 2022 Hall of Fame inductee. “We were talking in the tent before the game and they were like ‘you’re awful grumpy.’ I knew Argentina was a really good team. There was a little pressure for me. It was the first time I got to play in the game and I didn’t want to be the first guy to lose it for the U.S.”
In addition to Ganzi’s five goals, Roldan had three goals. Crowder and Biddle each had one goal. For Argentina, Toccalino led with three goals and Valent had two.
“We tried to play simple polo, that was no secret,” Ganzi said. “We got together in the tent and said let’s have some fun and let’s play simple. We didn’t start out that well but we started talking to each other between plays and getting more of a flow.”
Open Sindicato, a 7-year-old chestnut gelding owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm and played by Crowder, was Best Playing Pony.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Team Gracida (Gene Goldstein, Weston Gracida, Carlitos Gracida, Sugar Erskine) defeated WPL (Leo Mandelbaum, Santos Bollini, Brandon Phillips, Juancito Bollini), 5-3, in the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial. Carlitos Gracida and Erskine each had two goals for Team Gracida. Phillips led the WPL with two goals.
Carlitos Gracida was MVP and Casper, a gray stallion played by Weston Gracida and owned by his father and Hall of Famer Ruben Gracida, was Best Playing Pony.
The seventh annual game honored one of the sport’s all-time greats, who died tragically in February, 2014 at age 53.
“Thank you to every one that comes every year and thank you to Marc and Melissa Ganzi for continuing to do this and making it happen every year,” Carlos Gracida said. “It’s very special to our family and nice to keep my father’s spirit alive. It was fun out there and I am just grateful. Hopefully, it was fun to watch.”
Proceeds from the fall season-ender benefitted Lake Worth-based Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: GCPC wins 10th International Cup tournament at Grand Champions Polo Club