The Pope Challenge finals
The Pope Challenge 12 goal has been a tournament of close games and overtime showdowns, and the final continued that theme, going all the way to OT and a thrilling finish.
Antelope entered the tournament undefeated, Mansour only lost once and that was to Antelope. Both teams had been playing strong all season and both delivered a great game. The polo was fast and open with very few penalties. However, Antelope team captain Geoff Palmer made the most of the penalty shots he was awarded, converting two open goal shots and adding one from the field to help keep his team neck and neck with Mansour
The game was tight until the 5th chukker, when the strong defense of Mansour, helped by team owner Ben Soleimani making several clutch plays to stop charging Antelope players, held Antelope scoreless while reeling off 4 goals in that chukker. Marcos Llambias had a wonderful coast to coast run for Mansour to get the scoring spree started and added another field goal and penalty in that chukker.
Mansour took an 8-6 lead into the 6th chukker, but the crafty veteran Santiago Trotz had a plan and he maneuvered Antelope right back into a tie at the end, helped by a Palmer penalty shot and a steal off the knock in for a goal by Marianito Gracida. It looked like Antelope might win it, as a last second shot by Mansour was drifting wide, but Llambias somehow chased it down and threaded the needle on a neck shot to tie things up.
Overtime was a familiar place for Mansour, as three out of four games for them went that way in this tournament, and all the experience with pressure paid off. After an initial rally by Antelope, Santi von Wernich and Patrick Uretz ran their now trademarked OT play, with von Wernich sending a pass to goal to his Uretz on the run, and Mansour revenged their earlier loss with a final score of 10-9
MVP was Marcos Llambias
BPP was “Esperanza” for Santi von Wernich