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
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.