Mt. Brilliant Spoils Lechuzaâ€™s Season Debut
By Alex Webbe
Victor Vargas and his Lechuza teammates made an exciting season debut but it was a Santiago Chavanne-led Mt. Brilliant polo team that managed to record the 12-11 win in the 20-goal Ylvisaker Cup play at the International Polo Club in Wellington Sunday afternoon.
Lechuza opened the first chukker aggressively, picking up goals from Vargas, Nicolas Espain and Santiago Toccalino. Chavanne scored the periodâ€™s only goal for Mt. Brilliant who left the field trailing 3-1.
Consecutive goals from Espain put Lechuza on top 5-1 in the second period, and it looked like it was going to be a long day for Mt. Brilliant. Chavanne answered with two goals and Pelon Escapite gave Mt. Brilliant its fourth goal of the game and the lead was cut to one, 5-4.
The third period was all Mt. Brilliant as Chavanne added two more goals before Vargas carried the ball through the goal posts for Lechuza. Julian Daniels scored his first goal of the day to break the tie and give Mt. Brilliant a precarious 7-6 halftime lead.
The second half opened with more give and take from each side. Escapite and Chavanne added single goals for Mt. Brilliant but Guille Agueroâ€™s three goals for Lechuza left the game knotted at 9-9.
Defenses tightened in the fifth chukker with Chavanne breaking through for a single goal for Mt. Brilliant that was quickly answered by a penalty conversion from Toccalino. Five chukkers had been played and the teams were tied at 10-10.
Both teams pressed in the final chukker of play. In a melee in front of the Lechuza goal Julian Daniels knocked the ball through for the go-ahead goal.
Following the ensuing throw-in, Lechuza drove the ball towards the Mt. Brilliant goal. Escapite picked up the ball and charged in the opposite direction. Aguero went to whip and spur to catch up some 150 yards down the field. With horse against horse and Escapite carrying the ball on his hear side, Mt. Brilliant scored to take a 12-10 lead.
â€œI was so full of adrenalin that I didnâ€™t notice anything but the ball,â€ said Escapite. â€œI didnâ€™t even see it go through the goal.â€
Lechuza gamely fought back, with Toccalino scoring the final goal of the game, but time ran out before they could reload.
Pelon Escapite was named MVP while his mare, Madonna, received Best Playing Pony honors.
Santiago Chavanne led all scoring with seven goals. Escapite scored three times and Julian Daniels accounted for two goals in the win.
Even scoring by the Lechuza had Guille Aguero, Nicolas Espain and Santiago Toccalino scoring three goals apiece. Team captain Victor Vargas added two goals.
â€œTheyâ€™re a very good team,â€ offered Vargas following the game, â€œThis was our first game of the season,â€ he added, â€œand Iâ€™m not sure that our horses were as fit as we had wanted them to be.â€
The win vaults Mt. Brilliant into the semifinals of the Ylvisaker Cup against San Saba on Thursday at 3pm. Lechuza falls into the subsidiary tournament and will meet EFG Bank on Wednesday at 3pm.