Casablanca Sweeps PTF Tournaments, Wins George Oliver Memorial Cup; Matias Gonzalez Named MVP
For the second consecutive day, Casablanca won a major junior tournament.
Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Joaquin Panelo, Wes Finlayson) defeated 7Chukkerpolo.com (Lorenzo Merlotti, Marcos Alberdi, Alejandro Gonzalez, Matias Gonzalez) to win the 6-12 goal George Oliver Memorial Tournament with a thrilling 7-6 victory at International Polo Club.
On Thursday, Casablanca won the 0-6 goal Jimmer Newman Memorial with an 8-6 victory over Pony Express.
Matias Gonzalez of 7Chukkerpolo.com was named Most Valuable Player.
Lorenzo Merlotti of 7Chukkerpolo.com was awarded the Nelly Loeb Perpetual Sportsmanship Award.
The Nelly Loeb Perpetual Sportsmanship Trophy. Photo by Scott Fisher
The hardfought, evenly-matched game was close for most of the four chukkers.
Trailing Casablanca 7-5 in the fourth chukker, Alejandro Gonzalez of 7Chukkerpolo.com scored a goal off the boards to trail by only one goal.
Lorenzo Merlotti of 7chukkerpolo.com backs the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher
Gonzalez then worked the ball downfield 100 yards close to the goal line but was unable to score with the ball being kicked out of bounds by a defender.
With 23 seconds left, 7Chukkerpolo.com was unable to capitalize on a safety and with one second left had another shot at a safety but missed a scoring attempt by a few feet.
Panelo, a 4-goal rated player, led scoring with four goals including the game-winner in the final chukker. Ganzi, Bollini and Finlayson each had one goal.
Merlotti and Alberdi each had two goals for 7Chukkerpolo.com. Alejandro and Matias Gonzalez each had one goal.
George Oliver, a leading pro polo player from the 1930s to the 1960s died of pneumonia in his home in Sparta, N.C. He was 83. He started playing polo at 23 and maintained a 9-goal handicap until he was in his 50s. He lived in Delray Beach during his playing days.
His daughter, Mimi Oliver Gracida-Boyle presented the awards to both teams.
After the game, the Polo Training Foundation held its annual Polo Party at the Mallet Grille where the 2014 Junior Awards were presented.
This year’s six award winners were Alyssa Tranchilla and Mackie Weisz, most improved juniors; Malia Bryan and Jack McLean, sportsmanship award; Michael Bellissimo, most improved youth and Connell Erb, youth sportsmanship award.
Grand Champions Polo Club owner Melissa Ganzi and Polo Training Foundation have been instrumental in the growth of junior and youth polo.
Ganzi is secretary-treasurer of the Polo Training Foundation and committee member for the PTF Party. She and her husband Marc have been selfless supporters of the PTF orchestrating the growth and success of the juniors and youth programs across the nation.
For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related eventsLive, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.
GRAND CHAMPIONS AT PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)
LAS ACACIAS 5-GOAL CUP
SATURDAY: FINAL, 10 a.m., Pony Express vs. Ganaraska, Field 9; HANDICAP FINAL, 11:30 a.m., Elegante/Tuff Rider at Equuleus.
GOVERNOR’S CUP, 2 p.m., Field 1, Grand Champions
USPA NATIONAL PRESIDENT’S CUP 8-GOAL
SATURDAY: FINAL, 3 p.m., Goose Creek vs. Casablanca, Grand Champions, Field 2, Grand Champions.
GRAND CHAMPIONS 2014 SPRING SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)
APRIL 18-20: Grand Champions Cup, Sunday, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. final.
APRIL 24-27: The USPA Spring Challenge
MAY 1-4: The USPA Sun Cup
MAY 8-11: The USPA Eastern Challenge
MAY 15-18: The Polo Gear Challenge Cup
MAY 22-26: The Memorial