2015 East Coast Open Championship


White Birch takes top seed with a win; McLaren victory sends KIG to semifinals


By Alex Webbe


White Birch Farm (Santino Magrini, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant) remained undefeated in East Coast Open play with a 13-9 win over previously unbeaten Audi (Marc Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan and Miguel Novillo Astrada) Sunday morning at the Greenwich Polo Club.  The victory gives the home White Birch team the top seeding in the tournament and a pairing with the 4th place finisher for the semifinals.  The loss by Audi will have them facing Airstream (Peter Orthwein, Guille Aguero, Matias Magrini and Michel Dorignac) in the semifinals.


 White Birch didn’t waste any time in challenging the Audi defense as they charged the Audi goal and pressured them into a foul that resulted in a 30-yard penalty conversion by Hilario Ulloa for a 1-0 White Birch lead.   Audi reversed the field and had Miguel Astrada zeroing in on the White Birch goal posts when he was fouled in the goal mouth, resulting in a Penalty 1.  Audi was awarded a goal that leveled the score at 1-1.  Ulloa took advantage of an Audi miscue moments later and scored on a 30-yard penalty shot of his own, 2-1.  Ulloa’s third goal of the game came on a run down the field of over 200-yards for a goal and a 3-1 White Birch advantage.


Limited scoring in the second chukker saw Mariano Aguerre score his first goal of the game to make it 4-1 while Ulloa scored on another 30-yard penalty shot. The Audi offense was held scoreless and trailed 5-1 after two chukkers of play.


A re-focused Audi team took the field in the third period and showed early success with a pair of penalty goals from Astrada that cut the lead back to two goals, 5-3.  Ulloa converted a penalty shot from 60-yards out and Aguerre scored on a 40-yard foul shot as Audi errors proved costly.  The White Birch lead was back to four goals, 7-3.  A determined Marc Ganzi carried the ball along the end line before stuffing it through the White Birch goalposts to end the first half as Audi continued to trail, 7-4.


Audi took control of the game from the moment they rode onto the field for the second half.  Nic Roldan pumped the team up after converting a well-executed neck-shot for a goal from over 90-yards out.  The pressure of the Audi attack forced White Birch into making fouls, and Audi took advantage of them.  Astrada converted three consecutive penalty shots for goals while the Audi defense kept White Birch off of the scoreboard.  Five straight Audi goals (including the final goal of the third chukker) gave Audi their first lead of the day, 8-7.


White Birch reasserted themselves in the fourth period.  Lights out defense shut down the Audi attack and a foul-free chukker kept them out of trouble on the penalty line.  Ulloa scored once on a 30-yard foul shot and added another goal from the field.  With one period left in regulation play. White Birch was in possession of a fragile one goal lead, 9-8.


Aguerre opened the scoring in the sixth chukker with a penalty goal followed by a goal from the field from Ulloa, 11-8.  Roldan came up with a goal for Audi but closing goals from Ulloa (a 110-yard cut shot for a goal) and Aguerre sealed the deal in a 13-9 victory.


Nine goals from Ulloa (five on penalty shots) set the pace for White birch.  Aguerre added the other four gals for the win.  Astrada’s six penalty goals led the Audi attack.  Roldan scored twice and Ganzi was credited with a goal in the loss.


McLaren 12, Turkish Air 11


Turkish Airlines (Bruce Colley/Joe Meyer, Joaquin Panelo, Tomas Garcia del Rio and Stevie Orthwein) received two goals by handicap from the 19-goal McLaren Greenwich lineup (Chris Brant, Nick Manifold, Joao Paulo Ganon and Tommy Biddle) and quickly added two more goals to the total for an early 4-0 lead.  McLaren’s Tommy Biddle converted a 40-yard penalty shot to get his team on the scoreboard followed by an impressive 80-yard neck shot from Brazilian 7-goaler Joao Ganon to end the chukker with Turkish Airlines on top of a 4-2 score.


Ganon tapped in a shot at goal from Biddle to edge within a goal of Turkish Airlines, 4-3, to open the second period.  Tomas Garcia del Rio scored his first goal of the game, 5-3 and Panelo closed out the period with his second goal of the game that had Turkish Airlines leading by three goals, 6-3.


Turkish Airlines controlled the third period with shutout defense and a pair of goals from the field from del Rio.  At the end of the first half Turkish Airlines was enjoying a five goal lead, 8-3. 


Biddle converted a 30-yard penalty shot in the opening minute of the fourth period and followed it up with a goal from the field that cut the Turkish Airlines lead back to three goals, 8-5.  Panelo found himself on the scoring end of a fine pass from del Rio, made a fine run and drove the ball through the goalposts to give Turkish Airlines a four goal lead, 9-5.  Ganon scored his third goal of the game for McLaren, 9-6, but del Rio scored the final goal of the chukker on a 60-yard penalty conversion, giving the four goal lead to Turkish Airlines, 10-6.


Ganon‘s fourth goal of the day cut the Turkish Airlines lead back to three goals, 10-7.  Del Rio responded with a 120 yard shot from the field that put Turkish Airlines up by four goals, 11-7.  Biddle converted a penalty shot from 30-yards and Ganon ended the chukker with a goal from the field.  With one chukker left to play in regulation time, Turkish Airlines held a two goal edge, 11-9.


An energized McLaren team had the momentum with them as the sixth chukker got underway.  Biddle scored on a pass from Manifold cutting the Turkish Airlines lead to a single goal, 11-10 and Manifold tied it up moments later with his first goal of the game, 11-11.  With both teams battling for control of the all, it was McLaren who continued to press the attack.  A foul by Turkish Airlines sent Biddle to the penalty line where the powerful 6-goal player drove the ball through the goalposts from 60-yards out for the winning goal, 12-11.


Biddle celebrated his birthday with a game-high six goals, including the game winner on a 60-yard penalty conversion.  Ganon added five goals and Manifold scored once.  Del Rio set the pace for Turkish Airlines with five goals.  Panelo scored three times and Bruce Colley added a goal in the loss.  Turkish Airlines also received two goals by handicap.


Joaquin Panelo earned MVP honors with Machitos Clo Clo, ridden by Nick Manifold, being named Best Playing Pony.


The McLaren win allows KIG (Bash Kazi, Valerio Zubiaurre, Mariano Obregon and Pelon Escapite) to move into the semifinals of the tournament where they will face White Birch (Santino Magrini, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant).  The other semifinal will have Audi (Marc Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan and Miguel Novillo Astrada) playing against Airstream (Peter Orthwein, Guille Aguero, Michel Dorignac and Matias Magrini).  The East Coast Open semifinals are scheduled to be played on Wednesday and Thursday with the tournament final set for Sunday, September 6th at 3pm.