Hawks face Santa Clara in The Memorial by Piaget Finals

Hawks Face Santa Clara in The Memorial by Piaget Finals

By Alex Webbe

Santa Clara built on a 4-3 halftime lead over Piaget Black to gallop into The Memorial presented by Piaget finals on the strength of an 11-8 win Friday afternoon at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington.

Johnny Chavanne scored the first goal of the game for Santa Clara, but was countered by a goal from Piaget Black’s Lucas Lalor.  Joey Casey closed out the scoring with his first goal of the day for an early 2-1 Santa Clara lead.

The second chukker belonged to Piaget Black, with one attack after another pressuring the Santa Clara defenses.  Two goals from Piaget Black 7-goaler, Sugar Erskine, left Santa Clara trailing by a goal, 3-2, after two chukkers of play.

Santa Clara turned the tables on Piaget Black in the third period, picking up goals from Chavanne and tommy Biddle.  A disciplined Santa Clara defense kept Piaget Black from scoring and had Santa Clara on top of a 4-3 halftime lead.

Both offenses got on track in the fourth chukker, with Casey accounting for three Santa Clara goals (two on penalty shots, one from the field) while Piaget Black got a pair of goals from Lalor and a penalty conversion from team captain, Marc Ganzi.  After four chukkers of action, Santa Clara clung to a narrow 7-6 advantage.

The Santa Clara defense stepped it up in the fifth, shutting-out the Piaget Black offense for the second time in three chukkers.  Two well-executed goals from Biddle extended the Santa Clara lead to three goals, 9-6, with one period left to play.

Casey continued to play top-notch polo in the final chukker, scoring his fifth goal of the match.  Teammate Biddle scored for the fourth time as Santa Clara rode off with the 11-8 victory.

Lalor scored his fourth goal of the day for Piaget Black while Gene Goldstein closed out the scoring with a final Piaget Black goal.


In earlier action, a balanced Hawks attack scored six goals in the final two chukkers as it knocked off Piaget White, 10-6, to capture the other finals berth in The Memorial presented by Piaget.

Coming off of a hotly contested 8-7 win over Grand Champions on Thursday afternoon, Piaget White had difficulty on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field.

Brandon Phillips scored first for the Hawks, but Nic Roldan responded for Piaget White to keep it all even at 1-1.  A well placed shot through the goal posts by Robert Orthwein gave the Hawks an early 2-1 lead as the first chukker ended.

Offensive action in the second chukker was limited to offsetting penalty goals as Roldan tied it up with an early penalty shot only to be answered by Julian Mannix’s penalty goal at the end of the chukker.  The teams were riding into the third chukker with the Hawks nursing a narrow 3-2 advantage.

Roldan knotted it up at 3-3 again on his second penalty goal of the match, but with time running out in the period, Orthwein scored to keep the Hawks in front, 4-3 at the end of the first half.

Fourth chukker play had Piaget White team captain Melissa Ganzi scoring the tying goal on a beautifully executed 70-yard neck shot from the right side of the goal.  Roldan complimented it with a goal from the field and a 5-4 Piaget lead. 

The Hawks finally got it figured out in the fifth chukker, getting goals from every member of the team while holding a talented Piaget White attack scoreless.  Single goals from Brandon Phillips and J. J. Celis were followed by penalty conversions from Orthwein and Mannix, and the Hawks left the field with a three goal, 8-5 edge.

The Hawks added two more goals in the final chukker, with Mannix scoring for the third time and Orthwein adding his fourth goal of the game.  Juan Badiola scored a goal for the Piaget White team as the final horn sounded, ushering the Hawks into the tournament finals against Santa Clara on Monday morning at 10:30 am.