Englandwins Westchester Cup in Overtime, 12-11
Out-gunned and out-horsed, the United States polo team(Marc Ganzi, Polito Pieres, Nic Roldan and Mike Azzaro) led 8-7 at the end ofthe first half and forced the game into overtime, as they outscored England 2-0in the sixth chukker, before losing 12-11.
Playing an away game in international polo usually meansthat you will not be riding your horses, a distinct disadvantage in a gamewhere the horse is considered to be as much as 80% of the game. Additionally, the US team faced an Englishteam of four professional players, ranging from six to eight goals, while theUS took the field with amateur Marc Ganzi, who carries a 1-goal handicap, butuntil the final goal, it was anyoneâ€™s game.
The 26-goal US team received two goals by handicap fromthe 28-goal English foursome, but Mark Tomlinson scored the first goal of thegame for England who trailed 2-1. MikeAzzaro scored on a beautifully delivered pass from Nic Roldan to extend thelead back to two goals, 3-1. James Beimaccounted for the final goal of the opening chukker. The US was in front, 3-2.
Goals from Beim and Mark Tomlinson had England in thelead in the second period, but Pieres got loose to score his first goal of theday. The score was all even at 4-4 goinginto the third chukker.
Polito Pieres took control of the game in the thirdchukker for the United States, scoring three consecutive goals, 7-4, before aUS foul interrupted the rhythm. Luke Tomlinsonconverted the shot. He and Beim addedsingle goals to lock it up at 7-7. Nic Roldanscored the final goal of the chukker to give the US an 8-7 advantage at the endof the first half.
A determined English team rode onto the pitch in thefourth chukker and shut down the US offense. Mark Tomlinson tied it up, 8-8, with his third goal of the game, andBeim put them ahead for the first time since the second chukker, 9-8. A US foul sent Luke Tomlinson to the penaltyline where he converted for a goal from 60-yards out, 10-8, to end the scoringin the chukker.
Polito Pieres cut the lead to a single goal, 10-9, in thefifth, but John-Paul Clarkin kept it a two goal game, 11-9, with his firstscore on the day to end the period.
While England tried to put it away in the sixth, the USteamâ€™s resolve stiffened. After missingon a 60-yard penalty conversion, Roldan scored on a great shot on goal that cutthe English led to a single goal, 11-10. Roldan had another run at goal but he shot hitthe goalpost and sat right on the goal mouth. Azzaro backed it through the goal for the 11-11 tie, forcing an overtimeperiod.
The United States had the first run at goal with Pieres shootingwide. England reversed the field andfound Clarkin on a breakaway, tapping the ball through the US goalposts for the12-11 win.
Pieres led all scoring with five goals. Teammates Roldan and Azzaro added two goalsapiece and the team received two goals by handicap. The English goals were spread about, withBeim leading his team with four goals. Mark and Luke Tomlinson scored three goals each and Clarkin scoredtwice, including the game-winner.
Beim was named MVP while Polito Pieresâ€™s horse, Rollinga,was honored as Best Playing Pony.