United States Runs Away from Chile with a 13-8 Win
By Alex Webbe
The Grand Champions Polo Club is making a tradition of annual international play, this year hosting a Chilean team (Tono Iturrate, Max Silva, Juan Sanchez and Matias Vial) in the USPA International Polo Cup series.
Taking the field for the United States were Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan and Jeff Hall in what would prove to be a classic display of American teamwork.
The US team took immediate control of the game, with Jeff Hall converting a 60-yard penalty shot for the opening goal just 30 seconds into play. Hall followed it up with his second goal of the game, taking the ensuing throw-in and racing 150 yards down the field for the goal, 2-0. Not wanting to be left out of the scoring frenzy, Nic Roldan scored his first goal of the day with three minutes left in the chukker, 3-0. Less than a minute later Roldan took advantage of a Chilean foul and made it 4-0 on a penalty shot. The two teams rode out the balance of the period with no further scoring and retired to the picket lines for fresh horses for the second chukker.
Second period goals from Marc Ganzi and Roldan had the US team in front 6-0 before Chile finally responded. A penalty conversion from Chilean 6-goaler Matias Vial finally broke the scoring drought for his team, but it would be the final goal of the chukker. At the end of the second period, the United States were solidly in front, 6-0.
There was no let-up from the Americans in the third chukker. Roldan and Ganzi opened the scoring by converting penalty shots for goals, 8-1, and Hall extended the lead to eight goals with his second breakaway goal from the throw-in, 9-1. Val and Juan Sanchez scored consecutive goals for Chile, 9-3, but Hall’s fourth goal of the game ended the first half with the United States comfortably ahead, 10-3.
Goals by Sanchez and Vial cut the US lead down to five goals, 10-5, but Roldan scored the final goal in the 11-5 match.
Max Silva scored on a well-played run in the fifth and final chukker (the two teams had agreed on a five chukker match), 11-6, and Vial converted a 40-yard penalty shot to make it 11-7. Roldan and Hall added single goals for a 13-7 lead with Tono Iturrate scoring the last goal of the game in the final 27 seconds of play for the 13-8 final.
Roldan led all scoring with six goals (two on penalty shots). Hall scored five times (one penalty goal) and Ganzi added two goals in the win. Vial led the Chilean attack with four goals (two on penalty conversions). Sanchez added two goals and Silva and Iturrate were each credited with a goal in the loss.
Roldan was named MVP while Hall’s 9-yearr-old Bay mare, Smooth, received Best Playing Pony honors.
“Everything just went right today,” said Marc Ganzi following the match. “”Everyone played their position, it was a total team effort,” he added.
The International Cup marked the end of a very successful Grand Champions Polo Club fall season that included nine tournaments ranging from 14 to 20-goals and an international match.