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Pedro Morrison Memorial Cup finals 2013

Casablanca captures 2013 Pedro Morrison Memorial Cup

By Alex Webbe
The youthful Casablanca lineup (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro and Wes

Finlayson) scored an exciting 14-11 win over PB Equine/ELG (Avery Chapman, Guille

Aguero, Tommy Biddle and Scott Swerdlin) before a large and enthusiastic throng

of polo fans in the finals of the popular Pedro Morrison Memorial Cup at the Grand

Champions Polo Club in Wellington.

Led by former American 10-goaler Mike Azzaro, Casablanca took the field with the

veteran 47-year-old and three teenagers in Grant Ganzi (15), Juancito Bollini (17) and

Wes Finlayson (18) and out-battled a seasoned PB Equine/ELG foursome that boasted

the talents of 6-goalers Guille Aguero and Tommy Biddle (the game’s only 10-goal

arena polo player).

PB Equine/ELG’s Avery Chapman scored the first goal of the game in the opening

minute of play, cutting the Casablanca lead to a single goal, 2-1 (Casablanca received

two goals by handicap). Azzaro responded with two goals from the field as Casablanca

moved in front, 4-1. Grant Ganzi converted a penalty shot for a goal, 5-1, and Tommy

Biddle scored the final goal of the first chukker for a 5-2 finish.

PB Equine/ELG got back into the game in the second period. Biddle opened the

chukker with a 40-yard penalty conversion followed by a goal from the field less than

a minute later. The Casablanca lead had been cut back to a single goal, 5-4. Ganzi

closed out the period with a penalty goal and a 6-4 Casablanca lead.

Ganzi opened the third chukker with a penalty conversion, 7-4. The two teams spent

much of the balance of the period racing up and down the field with shots going wide

of the goal or spectacular defensive backhanders averting scoring opportunities. Wes

Finlayson scored the final goal of the chukker on a perfectly executed nearside shot that

carried through the goal posts for an 8-4 halftime lead for Casablanca.

 PB Equine/ELG regrouped and returned to the field in the fourth chukker with a

renewed determination. Biddle scored the first goal of the chukker on an amazing

cut shot just off the backline that careened through the goalposts, 8-5. Aguero added

another PB Equine/ELG goal just a minute later, 8-6. Biddle’s second goal of the

chukker and fifth goal of the game came on a 60-yard penalty conversion that cut the

Casablanca lead back to a single goal, 8-7. Casablanca took control of the game back

in the final three minutes of play with Juancito Bollini and Azzaro scoring single goals.

After four periods of play Casablanca rode off the field with a 10-7 advantage.

The fifth chukker belonged to PB Equine/ELG with Biddle scoring the first goal at the

6:32 mark and Aguero adding two more goals from the field, his second goal tying the

game at 10-10. For the first time all afternoon Casablanca was held scoreless and the

two teams entered the sixth chukker in a dead heat.

Twenty seconds into the final chukker of play, Azzaro put Casablanca ahead with a

shot from the field that carried through the PB Equine/ELG goalposts, 11-10. Finlayson

scored on a splendid run for a 12-10 edge, and Ganzi’s fourth goal on the day had

Casablanca ahead, 13-10. Biddle and Azzaro exchanged penalty goals in the waning

minutes of play as Casablanca celebrated the 14-11 win.

Biddle’s seven goals (three on penalty shots) led all scoring. Aguero scored three times

and Chapman added a goal. Azzaro scored five times (once on a penalty conversion).

Ganzi scored three of his four goals on penalty shots; Finlayson added two goals from

the field and Bollini scored once in the victory.

Finlayson was named MVP while Halo Polo’s Zulu, played by Guille Aguero, was

named Best Playing Pony--her second such award this season.

PALADIN 8, AUDI/EXCALIBUR 5

Earlier in the day Paladin (Melissa Ganzi, David Krantz, Piki Alberdi and Juan Bollini)

ran over Audi/Excalibur (Michael Donahue, Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida and Nic

Roldan) 8-5.

Audi/Excalibur received one goal by handicap from the 13-goal Paladin entry, but

fell behind in the first chukker. Single goals from Juan Bollini and Piki Alberdi went

unanswered as Paladin established an early 3-1 lead.

Alberdi added two more goals in the second chukker as Paladin stretched its lead to

three goals, 4-1. Nic Roldan scored Audi/Excalibur’s first goal from the field. Paladin

continued to lead, 4-2.

Juan Bollini attempted a penalty shot at the 6:11 mark of the third chukker that fell just

short. Alberdi drove it across the goal line to put Paladin in front, 5-2. Melissa Ganzi

scored the only other goal of the chukker on a run down the field. At the end of the first

half of play, Paladin held a 6-2 advantage over a struggling Audi/Excalibur offense.

Audi/Excalibur had their best defensive chukker of the game in the fourth, holding

Paladin scoreless for the first time all day, but their offense wasn’t able to take

advantage. A single goal from Marc Ganzi was the only score, and Paladin continued

to lead, 6-3.

Audi/Excalibur continued to attack in the fifth, causing Paladin a couple of costly fouls.

Marc Ganzi converted a 40-yard penalty shot in the first 18 seconds of the period

following it up with his third goal of the game, on a penalty shot, with less than two

minutes in the chukker, 6-5. Bollini scored the final goal of the period, however, moving

Paladin in front, 7-5.

Nothing offensively was working for Audi/Excalibur in the final chukker, and Alberdi

supplied the only goal of the chukker for the 8-5 Paladin win.

Alberdi led the Paladin attack with five goals. Bollini scored twice and Melissa Ganzi

added a goal for the victory. Marc Ganzi scored two of his team-high three goals on

penalty shots. Roldan added a goal and the team received one goal by handicap.