Wins by Alegria/Valiente and Lucchese set the stage for the 2015 Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open final
By Alex Webbe
The semifinals of the 2015 Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open saw Alegria/Valiente (Julian Mannix, Robert Jornayvaz, Santiago Torres and Sterling Giannico) and Lucchese (John Muse, Tete Grahn, Facundo Obregon and Jeff Hall) set the stage for Sunday’s final at the Santa Barbara Polo Club in Friday afternoon action.
In the opening semifinal match of the day both Alegria/Valiente and Klentner Ranch (Steve Krueger, Jesse Bray, Mike Azzaro and Justin Klentner) started tentatively. Julian Mannix scored the first goal of the day from the field before Jesse Bray countered for Klentner Ranch with a 60-yard penalty conversion for a 1-1 tie.
The pace picked up in the second frame but goals continued to be scarce. Mannix scored for the second time to put Alegria/Valiente on top, 2-1, but Klentner Ranch responded in kind. A goal from Steve Krueger leveled the score at 2-2 for the only other goal of the chukker.
Klentner Ranch piled it on in the third period. Consecutive goals from former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro gave Klentner Ranch a 4-2 edge, with Bray scoring his second goal of the day, 5-2. Shutout defense by Klentner Ranch had Alegria/Valiente trailing by three goals at the end of the first half.
Alegria/Valiente went to work in the fourth chukker combining a solid defensive effort with single goals from Sterling Giannico and Santi Torres. Klentner Ranch was unable to get on the scoreboard in the period but continued to lead, 5-4.
The level of play continued to escalate in the fifth. Mannix scored the first goal of the period to tie it at 5-5. Azzaro converted a 30-yard penalty shot, 6-5. Giannico tied the game once again, 6-6, with a goal from the field followed by a goal from Torres that gave Alegria/Valiente their first lead since the second chukker, 7-6. Bray scored the final goal of the chukker to deadlock the contest at 7-7, with one chukker remaining in regulation play.
Alegria/Valiente poured it on in the sixth chukker as both teams struggled to take control of the play in the final chukker. Mannix jumped out to score the first goal of the period, 8-7, and followed it up with a penalty conversion for a 9-7 advantage. Azzaro tried to rally the troops with a Klentner Ranch goal, but the Alegria/Valiente defense held firm. The final horn sounded with Alegria/Valiente on the winning end of a 9-8 score.
Mannix scored five times to lead the Alegria/Valiente attack. Torres and Giannico scored two goals apiece for the win. Azzaro scored a team-high four goals for Klentner Ranch. Bray added three goals and Steve Krueger scored once in the losing effort.
Lucchese 17, Wildcat 12
Lucchese downed Wildcat (Ryan Gilbertson, Felipe Vercellino, Memo Gracida and Santiago Trotz) in the second Pacific Coast Open semifinal of the day by a whopping 17-12 score.
Chilean 4-goaler Felipe Vercellino lit up the scoreboard with a total of eleven goals on the day but it was Lucchese who would win the ballet, 17-12.
Vercellino converted a 40-yard penalty shot that put Wildcat on top in the opening chukker of play, 1-0. Facundo Obregon countered with a 40-yard penalty shot of I own and a goal from the field for an early 2-1 lead.
Lucchese outscored Wildcat again in the second period, 3-2. Obregon scored twice from the penalty line and Hall added a goal from the field. Vercellino and Memo Gracida each scored for the Wildcat team, but it was all Lucchese in the lead, 5-3.
Hall opened the third chukker with a penalty conversion for a goal and added another from the field, 7-3. Obregon scored the final two goals of the period, his fifth and sixth on the day. At the end of the first half it was all Lucchese, 9-3.
A regrouped Wildcat team returned to the field for the fourth chukker and tore into the Lucchese defense. Vercellino scored five consecutive goals (two on penalty shots) before allowing Lucchese to respond. Hall closed out the period the period with a goal from the field, 10-8.
Vercellino converted a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal to open the fifth chukker, 10-9. A goal was awarded to Lucchese on a rarely called Penalty 1, 11-9. Hall scored a goal from the field, 12-9, before a pair of penalty conversions from Vercellino had them breathing down the necks of the Lucchese team, 12-11.
Four more Obregon goals dominated the sixth and final period. With the Wildcat team putting up limited defense, they fell further behind Lucchese, 16-12. Tete Grahn scored the final goal of the day and his first of the afternoon for a 17-12 victory.
Vercellino scored eleven goals (nine on penalty shots). Memo Gracida scored the only other goal for Wildcat on the day. Obregon scored nine his 10-goals from the penalty line. Jeff Hall added five goals with Grahn scoring the final goal of the day for the 17-12 Lucchese win.
East Coast Open action continues on Saturday, August 29th with a 4pm game between Airstream (Peter Orthwein, Guille Aguero, Matias Magrini and Michel Dorignac) and KIG. It’s a critical game for both teams with identical 1-1 records as they both hope to qualify for the tournament semifinals. Although the game is not open to the public, the game will be livestreamed on Chukker TV (chukkertv.com).