|Team USA's Peter Rizzo (3) stands his ground as Canada's Cody Offen (2) tries to bump him off play. Photo by Scott Fisher|
WELLINGTON, FL-Feb. 11, 2014----Canada made history by capturing the first-ever Americas Cup held Saturday night at Grand Champions Polo Club Polo West Arena.
Canada (Brendan Stenzel, Cody Offen, Nicole Offen) dominated Team USA (Dan Coleman, Horton Schwartz, Peter Rizzo) for an impressive 18-8 victory in the four-chukker championship final in front of a packed crowd under the lights.
In the consolation game of the 6-9 goal arena event, Santa Maria-Melbourne defeated Mexico-New York City, 11-8.
|Canada's Brendan Stenzel (2) tries to maintain possession of the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher|
"We have been playing together for a long time," said Stenzel, who along with Cody Offen are members of the Canadian national polo team.
"Cody and I have been playing together for seven years so we had crazy chemistry coming into this. We always know where each other is. Adding Nicole, she's family, we grew up together so it was great."
Stenzel was named Most Valuable Player. He scored a game-high 11 goals in the final. Cody Offen added six goals and Nicole Offen scored one.
|Team Canada players Nicole Offen (3), Cody Offen (2) and Most Valuable Player Brendan Stenzel (1). Photo by Scott Fisher|
"The strategy coming in was just play our game, stick to our guns and hopefully it would work out the best for us," Stenzel said. "The game was a lot closer than the score appeared. The U.S. played great."
Schwartz led Team USA with five goals. Rizzo added three goals, all in the third chukker.
According to Rizzo, CEO of the USPA, the purpose of the unique event was to showcase good, well-played arena polo.
"We wanted to have a medium goal event where we could get a lot of teams to participate," Rizzo said. "We have plenty of outdoor events but very few international arena events.
|Team USA players Peter Rizzo (3), Horton Schwartz (2) and Dan Coleman (1). Photo by Scott Fisher|
"The camaraderie of international polo is another part of this," Rizzo said. "We all had dinner together the night before and I got to know these young guys that I've seen play. They were all fabulous. Once you put everybody on equal footing, that is the fun of polo.
"I am well past my prime. This younger group of Canadian players saw and took part in this event and need to take it forward. It gave them a showcase."
|Horton Schwartz of Team USA (2) attempts to back the ball despite defensive pressure from Canadians Brendan Stenzel (1) and Cody Offen (2). Photo by Scott Fisher|
Canada dominated from the opening chukker, shutting out Team USA 4-0, all scored by Cody Offen. Schwartz got Team USA on the scoreboard first in the second chukker but Canada controlled the game and pulled away to lead at the half, 9-1.
Rizzo said the best entry port to start the sport of polo is in the arena because it's safer and less resources are needed.
|Team USA teammates Dan Coleman (1), Horton Schwartz (2) and Peter Rizzo (3) on the attack. Photo by Scott Fisher|
"Horses matter but not as much but for me I was on absolutely the best horses in the world," Rizzo said."That is the point of handicap polo where horses and age don't matter as much. Canada's team average age was in their 20s, our average age goes from 62 all the way down. But we have polo handicaps and we can all play. Hopefully, this momentum will continue."
Coleman, chairman of the arena committee, and other officials are hoping the tournament will become an annual event held at different venues in Canada, Mexico and United States.
"I would love to see this event grow and be played in different countries," Stenzel said. "It's a great event and I have to thank the Ganzis and everybody who is involved in the USPA."
|Awards presentation for the inaugural Americas Cup with Team USA and Canada players and hosts Melissa and Marc Ganzi at Grand Champions Polo Club's Polo West Arena. Photo by Scott Fisher|
Grand Champions Polo Club and owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi hosted the tournament, providing the venue, horses, team dinner for Canada and Team USA and officials; and food and refreshments for spectators from Hop Won.
For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.
|Team USA's Dan Coleman (1) on a fast break. Photo by Scott Fisher|
2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON
JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 23: Ylvisaker Cup-Wednesday, Audi vs. Los Machitos/Heathcote, 3 p.m.; Thursday, Flight Options vs. Lechuza Caracas, 1 p.m.; Feb 16, Quarterfinals; Feb. 19, Semifinals; Feb. 23, George Haas Cup Final, noon; Ylvisaker Cup Finals.
FEBRUARY 14: National Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 6:30 p.m.
FEBRUARY 15: Outback 40-Goal Challenge, 3 p.m.
FEBRUARY 16-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup
FEBRUARY 22-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup
MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup
MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships
|USPA Trophy Cups for the winning Americas Cup team. Photo by Scott Fisher|
GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)
FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 Goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo at Polo West.
MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5 goals); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; USPA Regional President's Cup (8 goals); $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals); Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo at Polo West.
APRIL: Las Acacias (5 goals); USPA Association Cup (8 goals); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goals); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16 goals); Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo at Polo West.
|A nice crowd came out to cheer on Team USA and Canada while munching on food and refreshments served by Hop Won courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club. Photo by Scott Fisher|
THIS WEEK'S GCPC AT PB POLO SCHEDULE
Wednesday: 8-Goal, TLC Development vs. Naimara/Custer Capital, Polo West, 9:45 a.m.; 12-Goal, Palm Beach Equine at Pony Express, 4 p.m.
Thursday: 5-Goal La Casa Hermosa vs. Top Gun, Polo West, 2 p.m.; 5-Goal Grand Champions at Santa Clara, 4 p.m.
Friday: 8-Goal Tuff Riders vs. Hawk Hill, Las Palmas, 10:30 a.m.; 12-Goal, Goose Creek vs. Enigma, Cypress, 2 p.m.; 12-Goal, Catamount vs. Casablanca, Field 2, 2 p.m.; 12-Goal, Skaneateles vs. Far Niente, Field 8, 3 p.m.
Saturday: 5-Goal Aliano Realty at Patagones Blanco,10 a.m.; 5-Goal Pony Express vs. Grand Champions, Field 9, 11 a.m.
Sunday: 5-Goal, Aliano Realty at Patagones Azul, 10 a.m.; 12-Goal Hawk Hill vs.Palm Beach Equine, Cypress; 5-Goal La Casa Hermosa at Polo West, noon; 8-Goal Tonchala vs. TLC Development, Las Palmas, noon.