2023 Autumn Arena Polo Competition
USPA NE Circuit Arena Sportsmanship CupHandicap: 0 – 3 goalHost Club: Westchester Polo Club – Newport County, Rhode Island | Oct 14 – 15, 2023Final Score: 12 – 8 | Winner: Wire Road (Todd Plummer, Megan Schulz, Rory Torrey)MVP: Todd PummerBest Playing Pony: Tracey ridden by Rory Torrey Runners-up:2nd Place: Mad Mouse Polo (Jair Zenteno, Anna Dwyer, Minnie Keating)3rd Place: Kinsella Building Co. (Ashleigh Kinsella, Eric Schneider, Liza Pytka, Oscar Monzon)4th Place: ROK Newport (Kailey Snyder, Zoeline Keating, Doug Brout, Cortney Lusaign)5th Place: Stage Hill (Leslie Strueli, Liz Sawicki, Amanda Poor)
The 2023 Area Season opened to postcard-worthy New England autumn weather despite the previous ominous forecast. Players and ponies returned after a successful grass season at Newport Polo Grounds to the arena training center in Newport County for the 2023 USPA NE Circuit Sportsmanship Cup on October 14 – 15, 2023. The tournament featured five teams consisting of an eclectic blend of elite veterans and up-and-coming talent from the Northeast. There was no better setting or talent to drum up enthusiasm for the forthcoming competitions planned for the fall months.
USPA Circuit Tournaments present an ideal forum for regional competition, for polo players looking to continue their season of competitive polo after the grass season has ended, while conditions are ideal to still travel and play outdoors during the best time in New England.
Dan Keating, our beloved president, lined the arena, while our players and grooms prepared the ponies. Commentator, Agnes Keating called teams Kinsella Building Co. and Wire Road to the arena for the start of the first semi-final game. The random draw to seed the Semi-Finals rounds pitted Kinsella Building Co., in green, was comprised of Ashleigh Kinsella at the #1 position, followed by Eric Schneider and Elizabeth Pytka splitting duties at #2, and polo wizard, Oscar Monzon anchoring the team at #3. Their opponents in orange were Megan Schulz at #1, Rory Torrey at #2, and Todd Plummer at #3. Wire Road came out on a mission as Torrey, a master of the arena, scored two immediate goals including a beautiful self-pass off the boards and a two-pointer. Monzon responded with virtuoso handwork to keep the score close, but Torrey’s 16 points proved too much as Wire Road took the first game to a score of 20-12 to advance in the tournament.
The second game of the day was the semi-final II pitting Stage Hill in pink versus ROK Newport in Orange. Stage Hill was comprised of Leslie Strueli at the #1 position, Liz Sawicki at #2, and guru, Amanda Poor holding down #3. Their formidable foes were led by Ivan Rojas at #1, Stuart Odell at #2, and Dan Keating at #3. ROK took the early lead with two lightning-fast goals by Keating. Poor put the team on her back, scoring 5 goals in the effort but ROK’s quick bursts of speed proved too much as ROK Newport won 10–4.5 to advance to the second round of the round-robin semi-finals.
Between matches players and spectators gawped as they were treated to a partial eclipse appropriately named the “ring of fire” to compliment the arena which was a ring of fire itself all afternoon. Stage Hill returned to the ring to battle Mad Mouse Polo led by youngster, Jair Zenteno at #1, Anna Dwyer at #2, and Newport Polo Queen, Minnie Keating at #3 in grey. Zenteno following Dan Keating and Rory Torrey’s lead rattled off two goals after the throw-in and never looked back earning his nickname, Super Zenteno. Mad Mouse was able to defeat Stage Hill 8–4.5 to advance to the final round of the round-robin semi-finals.
ROK Newport began the first chucker with each player contributing a goal, but Minnie Keating scored a tactful two-pointer to even the score. The final chukker saw the goals again distributed equally but with the final seconds ticking off the clock, speedy Zenteno scored a beauty as the concluding bell rang awarding the hard-fought victory to Mad Mouse Polo 6-5 in dramatic fashion as the rainclouds moved in to try to put out the ring of fire that is arena polo!
Day two featured temperate and sunny weather as leaves floated to the ground with the charming Sakonnet River backdrop. Consolation matches saw ROK Newport defeat Stage Hill 10 – 3.5, Kinsella Building Co. rout ROK Newport 8 – 5, Stage Hill over Kinsella Building Co., 6.5 – 5, and ROK Newport over Stage Hill to procure third place.
As the dust settled after the ferocious consolation matches, it was time for the Finals featuring Wire Road against Mad Mouse Polo! Former pro and Cornell alumni, Torrey could not be stopped and scored all three goals for Wire Road in the 1st chukker. Minnie Keating and Zenteno netted one a piece to keep the score even after the first period. Torrey continued the onslaught with a feverous 6 goals to the awe of the polo fans and players spectating. Mad Mouse Polo regrouped at halftime and saw a pair by Super Zenteno and goals from Dwyer and Keating to chip away at the deficit. Wire Road, sensing a victory played staunch defense and held their opponents to a single goal to secure them the richly deserved win and crowned as the champions of the 2023 Sportsmanship Cup 12-8 giving Torrey his long overdue first tournament win in Newport!
Trophies were presented to the winning and runner-up teams and to MVP of the tournament, recent Newport Polo Coaching League graduate, Todd Plummer! Best Playing Pony was awarded to Tracey ridden by Rory Torrey! Teammates and family congregated along the pony lines to celebrate the competitive weekend and perfect weather with friends and family – a brilliant formula to transition into the final season of 2023!
Check out match photos!
Photos: John Lincourt Photography
About Newport Polo: Newport Polo is the home of the Westchester Polo Club, America’s first polo club est. 1876, and a charter member of the United States Polo Association, offering public exhibition matches, polo club membership, and polo instruction year-round. The founding members, who hailed mostly from Westchester County, NY, established the club’s summer headquarters and polo grounds in Newport, RI where its members annually convened for summer recreation. The original club, based in Newport, is credited for organizing the world’s first international polo competition, the Westchester Cup, and remained active until 1929. The Westchester Polo Club was revived in 1992 by President and USPA Delegate, Dan Keating. Known today as Newport Polo, the Club supports a vibrant polo training program, developing players in weekly polo lessons with open enrollment for new players, as well as membership for club chukkers and tournaments in spring, summer, and autumn. Click Here to read & subscribe for the weekly polo schedule with opportunities to play for all levels! Newport Polo is also home to the Brown University Polo Team, and the Newport Varsity & JV Interscholastic Teams. Newport Polo also hosts the Newport International Polo Series, a popular summer exhibition series held annually on Saturdays, June – September.