Securing their place in the final with an overtime semifinal win courtesy of Hope Arellano*, Peachtree (Lucas Arellano*, Randy Rizor, Marcos Onetto, Hope Arellano) headed into the Regional President’s Cup Final matching SIG (Matt Coppola*, Deep Singh, Andrew Scott, Willie Hartnett) on a 3-1 record. Starting off strong with an offensive opening chukker, Peachtree set the pace and held the lead throughout the game to claim the title 9-6 at New Bridge Polo & Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina.
Peachtree’s Randy Rizor led his team at the front of the game. ©Katie Roth
“We trusted each other to deliver, which in turn allowed each of us to focus on what we do best.” – Randy Rizor, Peachtree Team Owner
Receiving a goal on handicap, Peachtree was eager to build on their early advantage with Hope Arellano and Onetto opening up the first with two consecutive goals. Held off the scoreboard in the opening chukker, SIG found an opportunity with Hartnett picking up a Penalty 3 conversion. Coppola followed up his teammate with a field goal in the second, scoring the only goals for SIG in the first half. “Randy [Rizor] did very well blocking the other team’s number two and four which freed up Lucas [Arellano] and gave all of us time to control the ball without pressure,” Onetto said. Extending their lead in the third, Lucas Arellano fired on goal and Onetto picked up his second Penalty 2 conversion with Peachtree tripling their opponents 6-2 at the half.
Peachtree’s Hope Arellano marking SIG’s Matt Coppola closely. ©Doug Bumgardner
Unable to break past well-positioned defenders, both sides went scoreless in the fourth. Fighting to keep their team in the game, Coppola and Hartnett picked up their second goals, but Lucas Arellano answered back with a penalty goal of his own. “I think what worked best for us was staying disciplined with our men,” Lucas Arellano said. “Hope [Arellano] did a great job of marking Matt [Coppola], who we were worried about because of how well mounted he is and since he was just coming off the GAUNTLET OF POLO®.” Entering the sixth chukker up by five goals, Peachtree closed in on the trophy with Onetto adding his fourth and fifth goals of the day. Determined to continue firing until the end, Coppola retaliated with a pair of goals of his own, but the gap was too large to overcome and Peachtree celebrated their 9-6 victory.
Peachtree’s Lucas Arellano under pressure from SIG’s Andrew Scott. ©Doug Bumgardner
Although not playing a team practice before the start of competition, Peachtree was able to find their rhythm and stand strong throughout the tournament. “To me it’s always difficult playing with a new team and Hope was the only person I had played with before,” Lucas Arellano revealed. “The first thing our team captain Marcos Onetto said was that he wanted us to play our game and that he would mold to us. We instantly clicked as a team and played very old school hit and run polo.”
Peachtree’s captain Marcos Onetto making a play on the ball in the final against SIG. ©Doug Bumgardner
“Throughout the tournament we worked on playing to each other’s strengths,” Rizor commented. “Lucas [Arellano] can hit the long ball with accuracy, Hope [Arellano] has agility and quick reflexes, Marcos [Onetto] has speed and is great on breakaways, and I like to take the man and open the lane. In the final we trusted each other to deliver, which in turn allowed each of us to focus on what we do best.”
Best Playing Pony Mischievous, played and owned by Matt Coppola. Pictured with Ciro Eleno, Fernando Force, Agustin Paris. ©Katie Roth
Best Playing Pony honors were presented to 8-year-old mare Mischievous (Into Mischief x Take Down), played by SIG’s Matt Coppola in the third chukker. “She’s an off-the-track-Thoroughbred and I bought her as a three-year-old from Nick Rennakamp’s auction in Louisville, Kentucky,” Coppola said. “She’s handy but her best attribute is running past people on the field, she flies.”
Lucas Arellano was named Most Valuable Player. “As happy as I was to receive MVP, I was able to look good because my teammates worked so hard and gave me so much time,” Lucas Arellano said. “I was also very happy to get the MVP trophy which was an asado grill made by Will Donahey. It caught my eye as soon as I walked up to the podium.”
Most Valuable Player Lucas Arellano, awarded with an asado grill made by Will Donahey. ©Katie Roth
Playing alongside her older brother, Hope Arellano especially enjoys having family on the field. “Lucas [Arellano] is my favorite teammate, so getting to play and win with him was very special to me!” Hope Arellano shared. “We get to play together very often so we know each other extremely well! I feel like it makes everything easier on the field when you know your teammates. Also competing with Marcos [Onetto] and Mr. Rizor was a very fun experience for us!”
Peachtree’s brother-sister duo of Lucas and Hope Arellano celebrating the victory. ©Katie Roth
“I really appreciate any chance to play with my sister and winning is a bonus,” Lucas Arellano echoed. “This was the only 8-goal tournament we were playing together this spring so it was our only opportunity to win and we did it!”
*Hope and Lucas Arellano are Active Team USPA Members. Matt Coppola is a Graduating 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.