Audi Wins Miami Beach Poloâ€™s 4th Annual La Martina Cup
By Alex Webbe
Argentinean 7-goaler Juan Bollini scored the winning goal as the Audi polo team scored an exciting 6-5 win over China Grill in sudden-death overtime to capture the 2008 Miami Beach Polo World Cup Sunday afternoon.
â€œI knew we had it before they (China Grill) tied the game,â€ said Bollini as he reflected on the hard fought victory. â€œThey made some great plays,â€ he added, â€œbut I think our teamwork paid off for us in the end.â€
Audi jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on two opening goals by Kris Kampsen, although the China Grill team pressed its attack a stubborn Audi defense kept them off the scoreboard in the opening chukker of play.
China Grill rallied in the second chukker scoring three consecutive goals by Pelon Escapite, Jason Crowder and Lyndon Lea to move ahead 3-2.
Kampsen knotted it at 3-3 on a penalty conversion just before time expired, and the teams left the sand arena all even at the end of the first half.
Audi bounced back in the third period, scoring two straight goals from Bollini for a 5-3 lead before Crowderâ€™s second goal of the game cut the Audi to a single goal, 5-4.
Defense was the mainstay of the fourth chukker as both teams battled for field position. However, with time winding down, China Grillâ€™s Pelon Escapite blasted the ball through the Audi goal to knot it at 5-5, forcing a sudden-death overtime period.
The players were given a brief intermission and an opportunity to gather fresh mounts for a final assault for the win. The first team to score would win.
Both teams had scoring opportunities early in the chukker with the ball going just wide of its mark before Bollini hammered the ball through the China Grill goal for the victory.
Audi team captain Melissa Ganzi led her team to its first Beach Polo championship in three tries.
â€œThis same team won the Aspen Snow Cup last December,â€ noted Kampsen as he wiped the champagne from his eyes following the trophy presentation. â€œWe knew we could do it, but itâ€™ never over until itâ€™ over,â€ he smiled.
The China Grill players gave credit to the physically aggressive Audi players for their win and heaved a collective sigh following over an hour of non-stop action under the hot Florida sun. China Grill team captain Lyndon Lea scored a single goal in the loss, quite an accomplishment considering he was hit in the face with a horseâ€™s head in its Saturday match with Hennessy, causing him two loose three teeth.
â€œIâ€™m fine,â€ he protested before the start of the match. â€œI got them fixed last night,â€
Lea acknowledged that injuries can be part of the game and offered a grin trough a cut and slightly swollen lip.
Kampsen and Bollini each scored three goals for Audi in the win.
Escapite and Crowder scored two goals each and Lea added the China Grillâ€™s fifth score in the loss.
As accolades were heaped on the teams and players, Hennessyâ€™s Marc Ganzi was named as the tournamentâ€™s MVP. Melissa Ganziâ€™s 7-year-old gray Argentine mare Corintina won Best Playing Pony honors.
HENNESSY 9, FRANK CRYSTAL & COMPANY 6
In earlier action, the well-balanced attack of the Hennessy team scored a 9-6 win over the trio representing Frank Crystal & Company.
Everyone scored for Hennessy in the opening half with Mike Azzaro and Gonzalo Del Tour scoring two goals apiece and team captain Marc Ganzi adding a single goal for a comfortable 5-2 halftime lead.
Carlos Gracida, one of the gameâ€™s best all-time players cut the lead to two goals, 5-3, to open the third chukker, but goals from Azzaro and Del Tour had Hennessy sitting on top of a 7-3 lead with one period left to play.
Gracida cranked up the Frank Crystal & Co. offense at the onset of the fourth chukker, scoring three unanswered goals, cutting the Hennessy lead to a single goal, 7-6, but Ganzi and crew werenâ€™t quite finished. Del tourâ€™s fourth goal of the game gave Hennessy an 8-6 lead before Ganzi scored a well placed shot for another goal in the 9-6 win.
â€œIt was a nice win,â€ offered Azzaro after the game. â€œOn a beautiful sunny day like this, the Atlantic Ocean in the background life couldnâ€™t be any better.â€
THE SETAI 6 Â½, LAMBORGHINI MIAMI 5
In the opening match of the day, The Setai scored a 6 Â½ to 5 win over a hard ridding Lamborghini team that pulled out all the stops.
The Setai received Â½ goal by handicap from Lamborghini Miami and wasted little time adding to it.
Goals from Tito Gaudenzi and veteran John Gobin made it 2 Â½ to 0 before Lamborghini Miami could get its engine started, but when it did the audience was treated to the talented mallet work of 8-goaler Jeff Hall. Jeff converted a penalty shot for a goal and was attempting a second penalty shot that appeared to be going just wide. Teammate, and brother, J. W. Hall stretched his 53â€ mallet in the air just far enough to redirect the ball through the goal posts to the delight of all present.
â€œI thought I nailed it pretty good,â€ said Jeff, â€œbut then I saw that the wind was carrying it just wide. J. W. got a stick on it, and directed it through the goal.â€
The chukker ended with The Setai holding on to a precarious 2 Â½ to 2 goal lead.
Each team managed a single goal in the second chukker, with Jeff Hall adding his second goal of the game, but The Setai held on to a narrow 3 Â½ to 3 halftime lead.
Gobin converted another penalty shot in the third frame, but two more goals from Jeff Hall gave Lamborghini its third lead of the game, 5 to 4 Â½.
The Setai stormed back in the final chukker with Tito Gaudenzi scoring two goals while Lamborghini Miamiâ€™s offense was stalled. The Setai recorded the 6 Â½ to 5 win.
Jeff Hall led all scoring with four goals.
Gobin and Gaudenzi scored three goals apiece and the team received Â½ goal by handicap for the win.
Started just four years ago, the annual beach polo competition has quickly become a part of the fabric of the South Beach scene, attracting sports celebrities and entertainment luminaries to the scene,
â€œWe were very excited about the growth of the tournament and the increasing quality of the teams involved,â€ said event producer Bruce Orosz of the Polo Life, LLC. We were buoyed by the support of the entire Miami Beach community as we continue to expand and improve upon this exciting annual event.â€