Valiente/Blanco Wins South Florida Challenge in 11-10 Finals
By Alex Webbe
Valiente/Blanco spotted the 11-goal Jan Pamela/Little Owl team one goal to start, but put together a string of goals late in the game that led them to victory in the finals of the South Florida Challenge 12-goal Pro-Am at the International Polo Club Friday afternoon.
â€œWe took advantage of some breaks and pulled together as a team,â€ said 7-goaler Jeff Blake of the teamâ€™s 11-10 win over Jan Pamela/Little Owl in the tournament finals. â€œWe just had a little more left in the end than they did.â€
Joe Wayne Barry put two goals on the scoreboard for Jan Pamela/Little Owl (to go with one goal by handicap) but Valiente/Blanco countered with single goals from Blake and Bob Jornayvaz. Valiente/Blanco trailed early, 3-2.
Blake and Steve Dalton exchanged goals in the second chukker, with Jan Pamela/Little Owl holding on the narrow one goal lead, 4-3 after the first two periods of play.
Valiente/Blanco came out in the third with guns blazing as they shut down the Jan Pamela/Little Owl attack while putting up three unanswered goals (two from Santiago Bottarro and one from Blake) to take a 6-4 halftime lead.
â€œOur defense broke down on us a bit,â€ said Dalton, â€œand when it did, they scored.â€
Jan Pamela/Little Owl rode into the fourth chukker with a vengeance, opening with a penalty goal from Barry and getting two goals from the field from Dalton. The lead changed hands with Jan Pamela/Little Owl leaving the field at the end of four with a 7-6 advantage.
J. P. Uihlein and Dalton scored single goals in the fifth, but Valiente/Blanco from Blake, Bottarro and Tom Sikes had the game all even at 9-9 with one chukker left to play.
The tempo of the game continued to accelerate in the sixth, with Bottarro and Blake each adding a goal for Valiente/Blanco for an 11-9 lead. Barry added his fourth goal of the game, but time expired with Valiente/Blanco riding off with the game and the championship in an 11-10 victory.
â€œWe just let this one get away from us,â€ said Dalton, â€œbut it was competitive and I think the team played well.â€
Dalton and Barry scored four goals apiece for Jan Pamela/Little Owl, with teammate J. P. Uihlein adding a goal in the loss.
Blake led the scoring for Valiente/Blanco with five goals. Bottarro scored four times and Sikes and Jornayvaz.
For his efforts and accomplishments on the field, Bottarro was named MVP while Daltonâ€™s 9-year-old grey mare, Carta, received Best Playing Pony honors.
MT. AIRY/WILLOW FARM 11, FARAWAY/MT. BRILLIANT 10
In earlier action, Brandon Phillips led the Mt. Airy/Willow Farm to an 11-10 victory in the tournamentâ€™s consolation match.
Although Faraway/Mt. Brilliant took a 5-4 first half lead as hard-charging action carried the ball up and down the field as each team took turns attacking and defending.
Trevor Allen scored the first goal of the game for Faraway/Mt. Brilliant followed by a penalty conversion from Julian Daniels for a 2-0 first chukker lead, but Mt. Airy/Willow Farm charged back in the second with foals from Adrian Wade and Phillips. Faraway/Mt. Brilliant got a single goal from Carlitos Galindo and continued to lead, 3-2.
Another goal from Allen and a second penalty goal from Daniels were answered by goals from Phillips and Gillian Johnston in the third. The first half ended with Faraway/Mt. Brilliant leading by a single goal, 5-4.
A renewed Mt. Airy/Willow Farm team took the field in the fourth chukker with a renewed purpose. Wade scored his second goal of the game while Phillips added two more goals. Disciplined defense kept Faraway/Mt. Brilliant off the scoreboard. Mt. Airy/Willow Farm took its first lead of the game, 7-5.
In a reversal of fortunes, Faraway/Mt. Brilliant scored four times in the fifth, getting a pair of goals from Galindo and single goals from Allen and Daniels. Mt. Airy/Willow Farm was held to a single goal from Phillips and now trailed 9-8.
The final chukker saw Mt. Airy/Willow Farm get three more goals from Phillips (two on penalty shots) while holding Faraway/Mt. Brilliant to a single goal from Daniels in the 11-10 win.
Phillips led all scoring with eight goals. Wade scored twice and Johnston added a single goal.
Daniels led the Faraway/Mt. Brilliant attack with four goals. Allen and Galindo accounted for three goals apiece in the loss.