Audi and Casablanca in Beluga USPA North American Cup finals By Alex Webbe
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan and Michel Dorignac) earned the
first berth in the finals of the 2013 Beluga USPA North American Cup at the Grand
Champions Polo Club Thursday morning with a 12-9 semifinal win over Berlin Polo
((Moritz Gaedeke, Hector Galindo, Sugar Erskine and Jeff Blake) in a fast-paced
Audi received one goal by handicap, but Berlin Polo’s Jeff Blake tied it up, 1-1, with
the first goal from the field. American 8-goaler Nic Roldan responded by bouncing a
neck-shot off of the far goal post for a 2-1 Audi lead. Hector Galindo tied it up with his
first goal of the game, 2-2, but Roldan wasn’t through. Two more goals from Roldan,
including a buzzer beating shot through the goalposts with three seconds on the clock
gave Audi an early 4-2 advantage.
Both defenses buckled down in second chukker play. Marc Ganzi extended the Audi
lead to 5-2 halfway through the second period. Sugar Erskine answered with a single
goal for Berlin Polo by cutting an impressive neck-shot through the goalposts from just
off the backline some 60-yard away, 5-3.
Ganzi opened the third chukker with his second goal of the game, 6-3. A minuet-and-a-
half later, Blake got Berlin Polo on the scoreboard with a goal from the field, 6-4. Ganzi
closed out the first half with a 40-yard penalty goal, 7-4.
Galindo cut the Audi lead to two goals, 7-5, with the opening goal of the second half,
but Audi continued to press the attack. Berlin Polo fouls sent Roldan to the penalty
line, watching him convert consecutive penalty shots for goals and a four goal, 9-
5 advantage. Roldan made an impressive save of a Berlin Polo shot on goal at the
1:27 mark of the fourth chukker, with Blake scoring on an extreme angle. Berlin Polo
continued to trail by three goals, 9-6.
Defense was the rule in fifth period. Blake scored the only goal of the chukker with just
1:17 left on the clock. Berlin Polo cut the Audi lead to two goals, 9-7.
Berlin Polo team captain Moritz Gaedeke cut the Audi lead to a single goal, 9-8, with a
score in the first minute of play in the sixth. Roldan responded with a goal from the field
just a minute later, 10-8. An Audi penalty sent Erskine to the penalty line at 4:08 where
he scored on a 60-yard penalty shot, 10-9. Roldan put the game out of reach, however,
with the final two goals of the game for a 12-9 Audi victory.
Roldan led all scoring with eight goals (two on penalty conversions). Ganzi added three
(one on a penalty shot), and the team received one goal by handicap. Blake scored
four times for Berlin Polo. Erskine and Galindo added two goals apiece and Gaedeke
scored once in the loss.
CASABLANCA 15, PIAGET 14
Fifteen-year-old Grant Ganzi performed like a pro Thursday afternoon, scoring eight
goals including the winner in sudden-death overtime to lead the Casablanca team
(Grant Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Mike Azzaro and Brandon Phillips) to a 15-14 semifinal win
over Piaget (Melissa Ganzi, Tommy Biddle, Piki Alberdi and Juan Bollini) in the second
semifinal of the 2013 Beluga USPA North American Cup at the Grand Champions Polo
Piaget received one goal by handicap from the 20-goal Casablanca team but Grant
Ganzi tied it up at 1-1 in the opening 30 seconds of play with a goal from the field.
Tommy Biddle and Melissa Ganzi (Grant’s mother) responded with single goals to give
Piaget a 3-1 advantage. Grant Ganzi’s second goal of the game cut the Piaget lead to
3-2, but a closing goal from Biddle ended the opening chukker with Piaget on top of a 4-
Biddle executed a difficult nearside neck-shot to open the second chukker, 5-2. The
ball jumped over the boards a minute later, and Biddle took the ensuing throw-in and
raced 70 yards to score his second goal of the period, 6-2. A Piaget foul sent Grant
Ganzi to the penalty line at 4:40, where he converted a 30-yard penalty shot for a goal,
6-3. Biddle’s third score of the chukker had Piaget comfortably in the lead, 7-3.
Piki Alberdi scored the first goal of the third chukker in the opening seconds of play, 8-3,
but that was when a strong Casablanca effort stopped the bleeding. Consecutive goals
from Mike Azzaro and Grant Ganzi in the closing minute of the period cut into the Piaget
lead and had Casablanca trailing by three goals at the end of the first half, 8-5.
Alberdi scored the first goal of the second half, 9-5, in the opening minute of play, but
Azzaro followed up with a goal of his own at 4:46 to cut the lead back to three goals, 9-
6. Jeff Hall finally got on the scoreboard to bring Casablanca to within two goals of the
lead, 9-7. Biddle (penalty conversion) and Azzaro traded goals in the final minutes of
the chukker. Piaget continued to lead but Casablanca was within two goals at 10-8.
Grant Ganzi converted a penalty goal to open the fifth, 10-9, and Hall’s second goal
of the day tied it at 10-10. Biddle scored to put Piaget back in the lead, 11-10, but
Grant Ganzi centered the ball in front of the Piaget goal and then drove it through the
goalposts on a well-executed neck-shot, 11-11. Hall scored with 59 seconds in the
chukker and Casablanca rode off the field on top of a 12-11 score with one chukker left
in regulation play.
Both teams press for the advantage as sixth chukker action began. Biddle scored first
on a penalty conversion, 12-12. Grant Ganzi answered back with a penalty goal of his
own for a 13-12 edge. Biddle scored from the field to tie it at 13-13 and then put Piaget
back in front, 14-13 with less than a minute on the clock. Azzaro was waiting at midfield
for the throw-in and took immediate control of the ball. With nine seconds on the clock,
Azzaro drove the ball across the goal line for a14-14 tie, forcing sudden-death overtime.
After a brief intermission to change onto fresh mounts, both teams returned to the field.
Grant Ganzi broke loose and took a pass from Brandon Phillips to score the winning
goal in overtime for the 15-14 win and a date in Saturday afternoon’s 4PM finals against
Grant Ganzi scored a team high eight goals (there on penalty conversions). Azzaro
added four goals to the win and Hall scored three times. Biddle scored three of his
game high nine goals on penalty shots. Alberdi accounted for two goals and Bollini and
Melissa Ganzi each scored once in the loss. Piaget received one goal by handicap.
The 2013 Beluga USPA North American Cup Subsidiary will be played on Saturday,
Dorignac and Luis Escobar) and ELG (Avery Chapman, Guille Aguero, Kris
Kampsen and Carlucho Arellano) followed by the tournament finals between Audi and
at 2PM featuring Beluga (Misha Rodzianko, Carlos Baez, Michel