Cornell Weill wins USPA Arena Open Championship in 17-11 final
Powered byten goals from team captain Tommy Biddle, Cornell Weill (Biddle, Rob Yackleyand Nick Stieg) scored a comfortable 17-11 win over Nacho Figueras and hisBlack Watch team (Figueras, Kareem Rosser and Kris Kampsen) Saturday night atthe Country Farms Polo Club in Medford, New York. The 2012 USPA Arena Open Championship markedthe first time in 79 years that the tournament took place, and resurrectedcompetition for the highest-rated tournament in the arena game.
â€œThehighest-rated team we had in the Arena Open this was only 16-goals, saidBiddle, â€œbut weâ€™re hoping to create future interest and participation that willreturn the tournament to its earlier glory days.â€
The cup wascreated in 1926 when Charles E. Danforth donated the cup to the Indoor PoloAssociation of America for Open play. TheYale team of C. R. Barrett, Winston Guest and W. K. Muir won the first ArenaOpen. Guest won the trophy three moretimes before competition for the cup was suspended after the 1933 season. Walter Hayden, John Pflug and Robert Eisner revivedthe Arena Open for the 1940 season before putting the cup in mothballs for over70 years.
Affirminghis dedication to return the arena game to the popularity it once received, TommyBiddle, only the third 10-goaler in the history of the arena game faced offagainst a determined Black Watch team in a fast-paced, hard hitting match thathad spectators on the edges of their seats.
Biddleopened the scoring with a goal from the field followed by a goal from teammateRob Yackley for a 2-0 lead. Figuerasscored the first Black Watch of the game, and the teamâ€™s second goal came whena well-defended Biddle miscued a clearing shot that went into his own goal toeven it up at 2-2.
â€œI was allover him,â€ offered Kris Kampsen, who received credit for the goal. â€œHe was trying to hit the ball down the fieldwhen the ball bounced off of his horse. A goalâ€™s a goal,â€ smiled Kampsen.
Nick Stiegclosed out the first chukker scoring with his first goal of the game for anearly 3-2 advantage.
Biddle CornellWeill got on track in the second chukker as the 10-goaler scored four goalsfrom the field and once on a penalty shot. Black Watch picked up a goal on a Penalty 1 and on a penalty conversionfrom Kampsen. At the end of the firsthalf, Cornell Weill led by four goals, 8-4.
A five goalsthird period put Cornell Weill team on top of a 13-7 lead, with Biddle and Yackleyscoring two goals apiece while Stieg added his second goal of the game. Kampsen converted another penalty shot for agoal and added a goal from the field. Figueras scored a single goal, but after three chukkers of play, CornellWeill had extended its lead to six goals, 13-7.
â€œI think ourteamwork and arena polo experience proved to be the difference,â€ saidBiddle. â€œBlack Watch didnâ€™t roll over,and continued to press it until the very end,â€ he added.
Yackleyopened the final chukker with a goal to put Cornell Weill on top, 14-7, butBlack Watch battled back. Consecutive goalsfrom Kampsen and Figueras cut the Cornell Weill lead back to five goals,14-9. Biddle and Kampsen exchangedsingle goals as Cornell Weill continued to lead, 15-10. Biddleâ€™s tenth goal of the game had BlackWatch trailing by six goals, 16-10. Kampsen converted a penalty shot, but Stieg scored the final goal of thegame as Cornell Weill rode off with the 17-11 victory.
Biddle ledall scoring with ten goals. Yackleyscored four times and Stieg was credited with three goals.
Kampsen setthe pace for Black Watch with seven goals. Figueras scored three times and the team received one goal by penalty.
Stieg wasrewarded for his efforts with MVP honors while Biddleâ€™s 23-year-old chestnutgelding, Mufasa, was named BestPlaying Pony.
Concurrentscores were being kept for both the Arena Open and the Arena Handicap withCornell Weill taking both trophies in this historic revival of American arenapolo.