“The way we’ve been playing is to have fun and enjoy the Pacific Coast Open between four friends.” – Keko Magrini
The apex of the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California) high-goal season, L.I.N.Y. (Santino Magrini*, Paquito de Narvaez, Kristos “Keko” Magrini*, Poroto Cambiaso) and Farmers & Merchants Bank (FMB) (Danny Walker, Lucas Criado, Facundo Obregon, Peke Gonzalez*) battled it out to be crowned the 2022 NetJets Pacific Coast Open champions. Assembling in front of a sold-out stadium, early energy provided L.I.N.Y. with a lead they would not relinquish, as a three-goal fourth chukker and last-minute drive from Poroto Cambiaso saw L.I.N.Y. withstand FMB’s late charge to claim the iconic six foot trophy 12-11.
Showcasing top-tier talent throughout the tournament, a five-way shootout was required to determine the semifinalists. L.I.N.Y. sailed passed BenSoleimani.com (Ben Soleimani, Lucas “Luckitas” Criado Jr., Iñaki Laprida, Jeff Hall) 13-7 in a redemptive rematch of the Farmers & Merchants Bank Silver Cup, as two-time Pacific Coast champions (2017, 2019) FMB handled Klentner Ranch 14-6 (Jake Klentner*, Santiago Toccalino, Jesse Bray*, Justin Klentner) to book their ticket into the final.
L.I.N.Y. captain Santino Magrini charges ahead of the field on defense.
Following a roster realignment in the second match of Pacific Coast Open, the addition of 9-goaler Poroto Cambiaso in place of 7-goaler Matias Magrini gave L.I.N.Y.’s young offensively driven team the last thrust needed to reach their second consecutive final of the Santa Barbara season. Facing earlier in the competition on the final weekend of bracket play, L.I.N.Y.’s powerful offense was on full display against FMB to handily take the win 13-7. Feeling confident in their ability to top FMB once more, Cambiaso expressed, “[our strategy] was to play like we’ve been playing and not change too much. Our best game was our semifinal; we copied a little of that. It didn’t work for us the whole game, but I think we had some good moments today.”
With the oldest team member aged 21, accompanied by three teenagers, L.I.N.Y. showcased their signature style of physical, high-powered polo to kick-off the contest. Applying pressure early, Keko Magrini and Cambiaso combined for three goals in the opening chukker to knock FMB on their heels with a 3-1 advantage.
Exemplifying teamwork by utilizing short passes between Cambiaso and Keko Magrini, the youngest Magrini playfully reflected on the addition of Cambiaso on the roster. “When I was playing with my dad [Matias Magrini], I had more control of the ball, but now why would I want to control the ball when I have Poroto!” Keko laughed. Enthralled for the opportunity to join L.I.N.Y. in the second game of the Pacific Coast Open, Cambiaso shared, “I’ve played with Keko in the United States, with Santino also—he’s a boss, and Paquito also—we are all around the same age, so we get along really well.”
L.I.N.Y.’s Paquito de Narvaez reaches for the hook on Farmers & Merchants Banks’ Peke Gonzalez.
Exchanging penalty goals in the second, L.I.N.Y. narrowly outscored FMB with two conversions from Cambiaso. Meanwhile Gonzalez, the tournament leading penalty shooter with eighteen goals, easily hit his Penalty 2 to keep FMB within three. Finishing off a play from his older brother Santino, Keko drove to goal to open the third. Back-to-back goals from FMB saw Obregon scoring his team’s first field goal since the opening chukker. Following a Safety attempt from Cambiaso, FMB had one last chance to make a play before the break. A brilliant steal from Cambiaso allowed Gonzalez to escort the ball across the line, however L.I.N.Y. ultimately walked off with the lead 10-6 at the break.
L.I.N.Y.’s Poroto Cambiaso on a breakaway.
L.I.N.Y. received invaluable coaching from their polo player fathers, led by Adolfo Cambiaso alongside Matias Magrini and Paco de Narvaez. Receiving strategy from the polo patriarchs helped fuel L.I.N.Y. “It’s amazing to have Cambiaso teaching you plays” noted Paquito, the youngest competitor of the tournament at fifteen-years-old. Poroto added of his father, “I think he’s helped with a lot of things, a little bit with the horses, and of course everything with me and the Dundas organization. His tactics have helped the team a lot.”
15-year-old Paquito de Narvaez races towards goal with Farmers and Merchants Banks’ Facundo Obregon on his hip.
Cambiaso took advantage of FMB’s foul troubles in the fourth, as three conversions doubled up L.I.N.Y.’s lead 10-5. Needing a jolt to bring them back into contention, a crucial field goal from Walker ended the chukker on a high note for FMB, cutting their deficit to four. Answering with another strong L.I.N.Y. drive to open the fifth from Keko Magrini, the young team took their turn fouling, allowing an automatic Penalty 1 and goal from Criado to bring FMB suddenly back within reach. Trailing by just two goals to open the final chukker, Gonzalez continued to shine from the penalty line, hitting the goal on back-to-back conversions to push FMB to within one.
With the game on the line, Cambiaso expertly navigated through traffic once more to send the ball through the posts to give L.I.N.Y. an instrumental cushion. Despite a last second effort from Gonzalez in the final seconds of regulation to score his thirty-fifth goal of the tournament to bring FMB within one, Cambiaso’s goal ultimately stood as the difference to deliver L.I.N.Y.’s first Pacific Coast Open title 12-11.
Leading L.I.N.Y. with seven goals, including six penalty conversions, and finishing third in scoring with thirty-four goals in the Pacific Coast Open, Poroto Cambiaso was named Most Valuable Player. Reflecting on L.I.N.Y’s final performance, Cambiaso shared, “we thought it was going to be a totally different game from our last matchup with this team, and I think it was. We had the upper hand the whole match, but in the end they got close. The truth is they were very close to winning.”
Most Valuable Player Poroto Cambiaso led L.I.N.Y. thirty-four goals in the Pacific Coast Open, including seven in the final.
“We knew it was an incredible team and the final was going to be a unique game.” Cambiaso continued, “this is a really important tournament, and it means a lot to me to be playing here in Santa Barbara. I want to thank Sara [Siegel-Magness] who allowed me to play and the boys who invited me to play.” Dolfina Ojos (Hazel x Ballet), a 7-year-old black mare owned by La Dolfina and played by Cambiaso in the third and sixth chukkers was awarded Best Playing Pony.
Best Playing Pony Dolfina Ojos. Played by Poroto Cambiaso, owned by La Dolfina. Pictured with Andres Luna, Juan Aneas, Carlos Ochoa.
Peke Gonzalez’s GT Polleruda, an 8-year-old gray mare played in the first and fifth chukkers was awarded Best Playing Pony Argentine Bred. “I’m really happy she got the blanket today because she played great for me all season,” shared Gonzalez. “I bought her in May 2021 from Delfin Uranga and brought her this season to Florida. She is really nice, complete and [got] better in each game we played.”
Brothers Keko and Santino Magrini embrace following their prestigious victory.
For the Magrini brothers, winning their first Pacific Coast Open championship has been a special experience. “It’s great, I’ve won a lot of trophies with my father and a couple with Keko, but this is the biggest we’ve won together,” Santino shared.
“This win means a lot,” said their father Matias Magrini. “I hope they realize the achievement of winning the Pacific Coast Open and recognize that their hard work has paid off.” He continued, describing his decision to step down from the team, “The opportunity for the boys to play with Poroto and watching a 17-year-old average team play together and have Adolfo coaching them, I think they played great. I want to thank our sponsor and Sara [Siegel-Magness] for allowing Poroto to play.” Keko added, “It’s amazing, I’m really happy to win with Santino, Poroto and Paquito. We’re really close and the way we’ve been playing is to have fun and enjoy the Pacific Coast Open between four friends.”
Team L.I.N.Y. – Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso, Paquito de Narvaez, Matias Magrini, Santino Magrini, Keko Magrini, Team Manager Facha Valent, Paco de Narvaez.
*Kristos ‘Keko’ Magrini is an Active Team USPA Member. Santino Magrini, Peke Gonzalez, Jake Klentner and Jesse Bray 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.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.