SKIES CLEAR FOR GARDENVALE NORTHEASTERN CIRCUIT OFFICERS CUP VICTORY

Emerging from a field of seven, first-ranked finalists Gardenvale (Connor Finemore, Nicolas ‘Nico’ Miro Bongiovanni, Jack Kiely, Tavi Usandizaga) and Savanna (Nicholas Bienstock, Milo Dorignac, Juanse Olivera, Gaston Lisioli) went head-to-head in the Northeastern Circuit Officers Cup Final on Sunday, June 24, at Mashomack Polo Club (Pine Plains, New York). Winning a shootout to qualify for the semifinals, Savanna narrowly defeated Smithfield 8-7 to claim their spot in the final. After a highly-anticipated final due to the current storms in upstate New York, Gardenvale raised the cup with a 14-9 victory.

Gardenvale's Jack Kiely under close watch from Savanna's Milo Dorignac. ©Milagros Martinez

Gardenvale’s Jack Kiely under close watch from Savanna’s Milo Dorignac. ©Milagros Martinez

Beginning with a goal on handicap, Gardenvale’s Kiely and Usandizaga started the first chukker off strong and claimed a pair of goals each. The game began to heat up during the second chukker when Savanna’s Olivera and Lisioli pushed back, narrowing the gap 5-2. Capitalizing on a penalty conversion Lisioli scored the first goal at the start of the third chukker. Continuing to extend Gardenvale’s lead, Finemore (Gardenvale’s team owner) and Usandizaga made the final two goals of the chukker, bringing the scoreboard to 7-3 just before halftime.

As the teams returned to the field, Gardenvale’s momentum continued as Kiely and Usandizaga opened the fourth chukker with two goals. As the intensity of the game increased, Lisioli capitalized on a Penalty 3 conversion. Usandizaga and Olivera scored the finals goals of the chukker, leading Gardenvale to an 11-5 advantage by the end of the fourth.

Savanna's Gaston Lisioli making a play on the ball. ©Milagros Martinez

Savanna’s Gaston Lisioli making a play on the ball. ©Milagros Martinez

The final two chukkers were strong and full of persistence by both teams. Opening the chukker with a Penalty 2 conversion, Kiely was followed up by field goals from Finemore and Usandizaga, challenged by a single goal from Dorignac. Olivera closed out the game by making three goals in the final chukker, but Gardenvale ultimately secured the trophy 14-9.

“Playing and winning the Northeastern Circuit Officer’s Cup with Jack [Kiely], Nico [Miro] and Tavi [Usandizaga] was an absolute pleasure,” Finemore said. “Polo with friends is such a great environment and has helped me grow a lot as a player.”

Most Valuable Player Tavi Usandizaga, presented by Craig Callen. ©Milagros Martinez

Most Valuable Player Tavi Usandizaga, presented by Craig Callen. ©Milagros Martinez

Scoring half of his team’s 14 goals, 35-year-old Tavi Usandizaga was named Most Valuable Player. “Something really special happened during half time,” Usandizaga said. “That’s usually a pivotal moment where we get to assess how the game has gone, errors we may have committed in the first half and how we plan to correct them in the second half. Being strategic and communicative is important, and I’m fortunate to have had such a supportive team throughout this entire tournament.” Best Playing Pony was awarded to 9-year-old Argentine Polo Pony Viuda Negra, played by Usandizaga in the first and fifth chukkers.

Best Playing Pony Vida Negra getting ready for the award presentation.= ©Clifford Oliver

Best Playing Pony Vida Negra getting ready for the award presentation. ©Clifford Oliver

Receiving $2,500 in prize money through the USPA’s Tournament Stimulus Package (TSP), the winning team donated their winnings back to the club. “After over a decade of hosting the Northeastern Circuit Officer’s Cup, this time around did not disappoint,” said Mashomack Polo Club Manager Juan Olivera. “Each player left everything on the field and, as always, it was fantastic to watch.” “The 8-goal season at Mashomack Polo Club is extremely competitive and all the teams are incredibly strong so it was rewarding to win this tournament,” Finemore added. “I want to thank everyone in the [Gardenvale] organization for helping us succeed.”

Best Playing Pony Viuda Negra, played by Tavi Usandizaga. Pictured with Jose Zaracho. ©Milagros Martinez

Best Playing Pony Viuda Negra, played by Tavi Usandizaga. Pictured with Jose Zaracho. ©Milagros Martinez

MASHOMACK POLO INC 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.