Grants Farm, Patagones Remain Unbeaten in PCO
By Alex Webbe
Bracket leaders Grants Farm (2-0) and Patagones (2-0) remained the only two undefeated teams in competition at the Santa Barbara Polo Club for the 2009 Bombardier Pacific Coast Open as the teams prepare for a final round of play Sunday afternoon before next weekâ€™s semifinal competition.
The 2-0 records assure both teams of a berth in next Thursdayâ€™s semifinal action while the remaining two berths are yet to be determined.
Grants Farm is struggling to break loose from the â€œalways a bridesmaid but never a brideâ€ syndrome as they will try to capture their first tournament of the California high-goal season after having lost in the finals of the Skene Trophy by a single goal at the beginning of the month.
Patagones also notched a pair of wins in early Pacific Coast Open play scoring a 10-8 win over ERG and an 8 to 6 win at the expense of Zacara.
Early odds had Audi looking to defend its 2008 PCO title, but food poisoning rendered a team member (Juan Bollini) ineffectual in its first outing (a 17-13 loss to Grants Farm), and they have been struggling to get back to form ever since.
Thursday morningâ€™s game with Mansour didnâ€™t exactly answer all of its questions, either.
Trying to rebound from last Sundayâ€™s loss to Grants Farm, Audi hoped to demonstrate the dominance on the field that it showed in winning the recently played America Cup, but Mansour had other ideas.
Audi took the early 2-1 lead before Mansour tied it at 3-3 after the second chukker. Martin Zegers converted a penalty shot in the third period to give Mansour a 4-3 advantage halfway through the game as the pace intensified.
Audi outscored Mansour 3-1 in the fourth period to take a narrow 6-5, but by the end of the fifth chukker it was 7-7.
The score see-sawed back and forth in the sixth chukker with Kampsen converting a Penalty 4 to force the extra period.
â€œI made some mental errors, but the team prevailed,â€ said Kampsen, who converted six penalty shots on the day to force overtime and win it in the extra chukker.
â€œWeâ€™re starting to get our rhythm back,â€ he said.
An aggressive Audi (1-1) attack was fouled in the overtime allowing Kampsen to score his sixth goal of the game for the 11-10 win, keeping Audiâ€™s chances alive for the 2009 Pacific Coast Open. Mansourâ€™s record falls to 1-1.
The noon contest had Grants Farm (2-0) securing a berth in the semifinals with a 12-9 win over Valiente (0-2).
Grants Farm jumped out to a commanding 7-3 halftime lead before Valiente could get organized and seemed to have the game well in hand until the fifth chukker.
Led by Nacho Astrada, Valiente staged a rally and cut the Grants Farm lead to two goals, 8-6.
Astrada converted a penalty shot to open the sixth chukker and then tied it at 8-8 with a goal from the field. Just when it looked as though Valiente might get back into the game Grants Farm answered with a vengeance.
Andy Busch scored the first of four unanswered goals. Jeff Hall added his fifth and sixth goals of the game and Sugar Erskine scored to give Grants Farm a 12-8 advantage.
Astrada scored the final goal of the match, but there was nothing left for Valiente when the final horn sounded as Grants Farm rode off with the win.
At 2pm ERG evened its record at 1-1 with an 11-9 win over Lucchese to keep its PCO hopes alive for another day.
As Lucchese (0-2) struggled to find an effective offense ERG piled on seven goals in the opening three chukkers to take a 7-3 halftime lead.
A mini-rally in the fourth kept the game respectable with single goals coming from Julio Gracida, Mike Azzaro and Andres Weisz while holding ERG to a lone goal from Gonzalo Deltour.
Azzaro added a goal for Lucchese in the fifth followed by goals from Paco de Narvaez and Deltour as ERG left the field with one chukker to play and a 10-7 edge.
Azzaro and Gracida chipped in single goals in the final period to cut the lead to a single goal before Jeff Blakeâ€™s penalty conversion sealed the deal for ERG in the 11-9 victory.
The final match of the day had Patagones in control of a tough Zacara team from the first chukker.
Four goals from Carlos Gracida helped power Patagones to a 6-3 halftime advantage after leading by as much as 5-1 in the second.
â€œWe played really well defensively,â€ said Patagones 5-goaler Brandon Phillips. â€œI think this was Zacaraâ€™s best effort to date.â€
As good an effort as it was, Zacara (1-1) fell victim to rough field conditions and an inability to score as Patagones rode off with the 8-6 score and a spot in the PCO semifinals with a perfect 2-0 record.