Poway Polo Club in Poway, California, hosted the final leg of the summer Pacific Coast Arena League (PCAL) the first week of July. Rounding out three weekends of competitive play, Poway’s PCAL installment did not disappoint.

Established in the early 2000s and spearheaded by Orange County Polo Club Manager Heather Perkins, PCAL is a summer tournament series that allows players to compete throughout the season at three different clubs to earn cumulative points, with those high-point individuals having a chance to win end-of-season awards.

A great structure for beginner, intermediate and advanced competition, many players would love to see this format at other clubs across the country. “PCAL is an awesome steppingstone for newer players into more serious play. All regions should strive to do a tournament league that is affordable and attainable with an infrastructure to accommodate all levels of play to leave no one out,” remarked Gillian Young.

“It’s an amazing feeling to play polo with other kids my age who share the same love of horses and the game. The friendship, camaraderie, food and overall atmosphere makes PCAL a unique and fun series of tournaments to play in.”  – Alex Jones

Much like the two previous PCAL tournaments, the final edition of the California series featured an A-flight played at the 2- to 4-goal level, a B-flight played at the -1- to 1-goal level and a C-flight for -1 players and those just starting out in the sport.

In a decisive 16-7 victory, Polodeo Ranch (Garrett Bankhead, Zach Cobb, Shelly Sheldon Gibson, Faris Hanna) beat out Lakeside (Kimberly Foy, Nicole Bankhead, Ethan Bankhead) in the A-flight Pacific Coast Circuit General S. Patton Jr. Final.

Polodeo Ranch's Garret Bankhead drives to the goal.

Polodeo Ranch’s Garret Bankhead drives to the goal.

Repeating their B-flight success from Lakeside Polo Club’s PCAL competition, Fawkes Polo (Maia Schnoebelen, Andy Schnoebelen, Marc Schnoebelen) relied on familial intuition to work as a team and take down Ka Mana Loa (Zoey Newton, Faris Hanna, Abby Purdy) as well as Rancho Arroyo (Mark Calayag, Rebekah Segien, Yuquan Li) in round-robin play in the Pacific Coast Circuit Arena Constitution Cup.

Finally, in the C-flight, La Tormenta (Emily Walsh, Warren Chan, Lily Goebbels) was also able to replicate their victory from Lakeside Polo Club’s PCAL, defeating both 3 Amigas LPC (Shira Engel, Helena Csiki, Laura Vanwechel) and Poway (Alex Jones, Gabby Kraszewski, Dryden Flemming) in the round-robin final.

Nutrena Best Playing Pony, MVP and Sportsmanship awards were presented in every game of the weekend. The recognitions count towards end of league points and awards. The list of award recipients for the weekend are as follows:

Nutrena Best Playing Pony Atlas with Zoey Newton.

Nutrena Best Playing Pony Atlas with Zoey Newton.

Nutrena Best Playing Pony
Dolce – Robert Hasman
Dakota – Helena Csiki
Bam Bam – Lily Goebbels
Cali – Laura Van
Drakarus – Lindsey Carr
Mistik – Ashley Simpson
Atlas – Zoey Newton
Pistach – Jasmine Lu
Susie – Ethan Bankhead
Louis V – Garrett Bankhead

Most Valuable Player Garrett Bankhead.

Most Valuable Player Garrett Bankhead.

Most Valuable Player 
David Wandless
Shira Engle
Alex Jones
Emily Walsh
Penny Steffens
Robert Hasman
Jasmine Lu
Bekah Seigen
Garrett Bankhead
Nicole Bankhead

Sportsmanship recipient Martina Lin.

Sportsmanship recipient Martina Lin.

Sportsmanship Recipients 
Warren Chan
Marlene Thomason
Laura Hauschild
Gabby Kraszewski
Maxine Payne
Martina Lin
Bekah Seigen
Zoey Newton
Faris Hanna
Zach Cobb

“From just starting in C-flight to making a splash in A-flight, it makes me so happy to see people I started in polo improve, buy horses, leave the nest and fall in love with this sport I couldn’t live without.”  – Gillian Young

The beauty of PCAL is its inclusive nature and its mission to draw people into the sport of polo. Gillian Young, one of this year’s competitors, shared, “Having been involved with the tournament league in many aspects, from participating to planning one on my own, what remains my favorite part is meeting new players, making new friends, and seeing the improvement from those players year after year. From just starting in C-flight to making a splash in A-flight, it makes me so happy to see people I started in polo improve, buy horses, leave the nest and fall in love with this sport I couldn’t live without. PCAL serves as a year-end goal for many new players. And when it’s over, we start yearning for it all over again.”

Ka Mana Loa's Abby Purdy.

Ka Mana Loa’s Abby Purdy.

First-time PCAL competitor and polo newcomer Marlene Thomason chimed in, saying, “The competition gave me opportunities to make mistakes, which I did. Participating in a competition creates pressure and fosters confidence.” 

PCAL’s three competitions also paid homage to the military roots of the host clubs, namely Poway Polo Club, in holding General George S. Patton Jr. tournaments. Sherry Sheldon Gibson explained, “My dad, Russ Sheldon, started a successful military tournament at our Poway Polo years ago with Peter Rizzo and Dean Daggett. The George Patton tournament was a perfect fit for us being so close to San Diego and all the military bases. We even used my dad’s old military flags for the flaggers!” Gibson noted that Poway Polo Club hopes to host another General George S. Patton tournament next year.

Lakeside's Kim Foy.

Lakeside’s Kim Foy.

While this was the end of PCAL for the summer, the competition will return next year, eager to offer opportunities to anyone interested in playing.

This year, PCAL used PoloSK to scorekeep and track points. Anyone who is interested can view the games at www.polosk.com by entering “PCAL 2022.”

All photos courtesy of ©Jim Bremner.

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