Aspen Valley winsfirst leg of 2014 USPA Fall Plates
By Alex Webbe
Aspen Valley (Gene Goldstein, Wes Finlayson, BrandonPhillips and Roberto Gonzalez) won Thursday afternoonâ€™s round-robin to capturethe first leg of 2014 USPA Fall Plates at the Grand Champions Polo Club inWellington, Florida Thursday afternoon. Aspen Valley scored wins over La Indiana (Melissa Ganzi, MichaelBickford, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini) and Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, PatrickUretz, Jesse Bray and Julio Gracida).
In the opening three chukkers of the round-robin Aspen Polo receivedone-half goal by handicap from the 14-goal La Indiana lineup and wasted littletime, adding a goal from the field from Roberto Gonzalez and a penaltyconversion from Brandon Phillips in the first three minutes of play for anearly 2Â½-0 lead. Melissa Ganzi scored ona pass from Nic Roldan at the 2:02 mark and Michael Bickford added a secondgoal for La Indiana with 1:02 left in the period. The chukker ended with Aspen Polo on top, 2Â½-2.
Juan Bollini scored the opening goal of the second chukkerto give La Indiana their first lead of the game, but the lead was short-lived. Phillips converted another penalty shot for agoal and a 3Â½-3 edge. Wes Finlayson wenton a tear in the final two minutes of the chukker scoring twice to give AspenValley a 5Â½-3 lead.
Nic Roldan scored on a pair of penalty shots for La Indianabut a goal from the field from Phillips was all Aspen Valley needed in thefinal chukker for the 6Â½-5 win.
With Aspen Valley retiring to the sidelines for the ensuingthree chukkers, La Indiana would hold the field and face Casablanca.
Casablanca 6Â½, LaIndiana 5
Casablanca received one and-a-half goals from La Indiana onhandicap before two first chukker goals from Jesse Bray to jump out to an early3Â½-0 advantage. La Indiana was heldscoreless and was struggling to coordinate an effective offensive attack.
Second chukker goals from Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bolliniwere answered by a single goal from the field from Patrick Uretz. With one chukker remaining Casablancacontinued to lead, 4Â½-2.
La Indiana pulled out all of the stops in the final sevenminutes of play. Final chukker goalsfrom Roldan (penalty goal), Ganzi and Bollini had La Indiana in front, 5-4. A great individual effort from Julio Gracidain the final 27 seconds of the game lifted Casablanca to the 6Â½-5 victory.
Aspen Polo 6,Casablanca 5
In the final round of the three-team round-robin, Aspen Poloand Casablanca would faceoff to decide the game winner.
Both Aspen Valley and Casablanca had won their openingmatches, with the winner of the final three chukkers between the two teams todecide the first tournament finalist.
Casablanca received one goal by handicap and promptly scoredthe opening three goals of the game for a 4-0 lead. Grant Ganzi opened the scoring in the firstchukker with a goal from the field at the 4:45 mark. Less than a minute later Julio Gracida madeit 3-0. A great bit of teamwork sawJesse Bray pass the ball ahead to Uretz who sent it up to a streaking GrantGanzi who added his second goal of the game for the 4-0 opening chukker lead.
Wes Finlayson showed streaks of brilliance as he shreddedthe Casablanca defense for a pair of goals in the second chukker. The period ended with Casablanca leading bytwo goals, 4-2.
The final chukker belonged to Aspen Valley. Two more goals from Finlayson and singlegoals from Phillips and Gonzalez went unchecked as Aspen Valley rode on to winthe game by the margin of one-half goal, 6-5Â½.
USPA Fall Plates continues with another round-robin onFriday, with action getting underway at 2PM with CT Energia (Marc Ganzi, AlessandroBazzoni, Felipe Viana and Kris Kampsen) playing Palm Beach Equine (CarlitosGracida, Leo Mandelbaum, Guille Aguero and Scott Swerdlin). Palm Beach Polo(Glenn Straub, Alejandro Gonzalez, Piki Alberdi and Juancito Bollini) will playthe final three chukkers of the day with the winner going on to meet AspenValley in the final on Sunday at 3PM.
The Grand Champions Polo Club is located on the corner ofLake Worth Avenue and South Shore Boulevard in Wellington, Florida, andeveryone is welcome to watch the games.